Co-founder and a Managing Partner at CSW Solutions. You can find Yoel on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Note: this post has been updated in July 2021.
Everyone thinks about the future of their business. Whether you're new to the game or you're a long-term player, you know that you must always look ahead to stay ahead. If you’ve ever found yourself considering another strategy to improve your business forecast, you must consider digital transformation. You only have to look around you to realize that the way people interact with the world has changed. With the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 showed us is that how important it is to have technology backbone for the business that allows your team to collaborate and communicate effectively no matter where they are located physically. This is one of the key advantages of digitally transforming your business.
Digital transformation refers to the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers. It's entails a cultural shift that necessitates organizations constantly challenging the status quo, experimenting, and becoming comfortable with failure.
The smartphone is the quintessential gateway for communication, shopping, and immeasurable access to information with technology that is constantly shifting, evolving, and growing. Every business is digital or in the process of becoming digital, simply because it expected and therefore, necessary.
New start-ups understand the need for a strong digital presence from the outset and subsequently build their strategies. More established businesses often need to put in some serious thought and often difficult compromises toward adapting to the current climate of change. The days where you could have a simple website and that was just enough, are long gone. Developing a digital transformation strategy is a fundamental aspect of survival in adapting to this age.
In practice, no two digital transformation strategies are the same. How you develop your digital transformation strategy will depend on where your starting point will be, your business processes, and customer base. Digital transformation isn’t a one and done development process. It needs to adapt and change over time and like any other strategy, preparedness and recovery are as unique as your securities. The good news is that the key principles you already use to develop a new plan may also apply here; even where the processes are new.
Customer relationships are central to a digital transformation strategy. If the habits of a traditional customer base are shifting, the key objective would be to move with them. This could be as simple as implementing new payment processes or providing access to services through a mobile application. However, the most successful digital transformation strategies adopt traditional development principles but in practice, turn them upside-down.
When a change in customer behavior is identified, it is often too late or you have time to catch up if you scramble to make amends in favor of the change. But if you already have a data collection process in place that can calculate and forecast behavior, you may have a distinct advantage. Digitizing your processes in a way that allows streamlined data to be collected across the board makes this more straightforward. As an example, McDonald's have maintained their global brand status by anticipating behavioral trends in both the use of social media apps and new payment technology. They developed their strategy by effectively working backward from that forecast.
Developing a digital transformation strategy doesn’t just depend on knowing what elements you need to include. Your strategy will only succeed if you have the right people on board to implement it. Challenges in recruiting and retaining the right people are nothing new. However, the 2015 MIT Sloan Management Review with Deloitte suggested that industries that are successfully adapting to changes in the digital environment are those with the highest level of employee and management buy-in. The survey found that 80% of respondents across all age groups wanted to work for a digitally mature organization. Creating a culture where the leadership encourages and fosters innovation and risk-taking, emerges as a key factor. Skill gaps can be closed quickly by adopting responsive training practices. It also appears to assist in both the high retention of existing personnel and attracting new recruits.
So where do you begin? If you need help implementing new integrated data collection and content management systems as a starting point for your digital transformation strategy, our solution architects are here to help. We can be your new beginning.