According to a survey by Gartner, 56% of CEOs stated that their digital transformation initiatives have led to an increase in profit.
The 6+ steps for digital transformation
1. Review the workplace
Before undertaking any steps for digital transformation, it’s essential to review the current situation and how and where digital improvements will benefit the business. A review of short and long-term digital goals will prioritize which departments and business processes need changes.
It’s also important to ask – what are the main areas of digital transformation and how could they make the business run more effectively? Consider if your employees would benefit from:
- A video chat system
- An intranet
- A project planning app
- A 3D printer
- Online forms and templates (expense claims, newsletters, emails…)
Also, look at how customers will benefit directly from digital tools when buying your products and services:
- Does your online ordering system need updating?
- Could you share more company information to raise your profile?
- Should you undertake customer surveys for market research?
When the time comes, each new digital system should be tested and introduced carefully to avoid any disruption to the business.
2. Introduce change slowly
Digital transformation initiatives need to be launched in a controlled way. By following digital transformation step-by-step and setting timelines you’ll control its effectiveness and employee and customer reaction to it. People like to be ready for change and are more likely to accept it if they know it’s coming. That’s where strategic change management is essential.
People like to be ready for change and are more likely to accept it if they know it’s coming. That’s where strategic change management is essential.
Providing any necessary training and educating employees about the transformation from the start will result in trust and respect. When employees are kept informed, they’re more likely to embrace new ways of working, especially if it makes their job easier.
Remember that not everyone is tech-savvy. It’s essential to maintain connectivity with anyone who will be affected by digital transformation and to deliver it as an innovative solution that will make everyone’s life easier. Any new digital business transformation needs a clear marketing strategy that sells them in a positive light.
3. Select relevant tools
Choosing the right tools and apps that make a difference to the business will lead to success. With so many digital products on the market, it’s easy to select and pay for something that people won’t like or use. “Try before you buy” to make sure the tools you plan to use are going to be your digital assets.
Here are some to consider:
- Chatbots are great for answering customer queries and saving on staff costs.
- Trello is a project management system that allows team members to collaborate and keep up to date.
- Social media marketing tools, such as Hootsuite, manage social media posting and reduce workload. One tool schedules posts on multiple social media platforms.
- Slack is a messaging tool for internal and external employees.
- Stripe takes care of customer payments without the need for an online payment system.
4. Be flexible
Flexibility is vital for successful digital transformation. The unforeseen often happens when introducing a new way of working. From tech glitches to downtime – how you manage these will affect both the employee and customer experience.
Before starting it’s essential to ask – what are the challenges of digital transformation and how will the implementation affect the business short-term?
If IT needs to work on the intranet to implement a new digital product, tell people when it’s going to happen so they can plan. It’s better to have downtime during the early morning or evening than in the middle of the working day. Make changes when traffic is at its lowest.
Have a back-up strategy to cover things if the unexpected happens. This might be paying suppliers a day later, asking remote employees to work different hours for a short time or migrating learners to a new machine learning platform. Whatever the update, people will adapt if they’re forewarned.
Data analytics are crucial in digital transformation. Set up a strategy to constantly monitor and modify progress. Decide which are the most important metrics to measure and use the results to refine and constantly evolve your business.
Digital transformation can measure various key performance indicators, including:
- Orders and purchases
- Return on investment
- Customer and employee experience and satisfaction
- Internet and intranet usage
- Operational performance
While you probably currently have methods of monitoring these in your business they may not be delivering their maximum potential.
Split the KPIs into three sectors to make them more manageable:
- The company (internal)
- Customers and suppliers (external)
- Development and innovation
Be realistic and look at the poor-performing areas first. Decide if the digital transformation has made a difference. If things are improving it’s worked but if not, review the objectives and make changes.
6. Make it happen
Once you’ve decided to align your business and have planned your steps for digital transformation, give the project priority. Create a vision for the company’s digital future and share it. If leaders are committed this will feed through to employees, customers and partners.
Remember to plan – introduce changes slowly and efficiently. Ensure everyone has the tools and support to learn the skills they may need to use the new technology.
Be confident in the team you’ve set up to launch the transformation and give them full back-up. If people need to work longer hours or out-of-hours reward them for their dedication. If your business is small and you can't afford to pay overtime, offer extra days off or finishing work early. Let your employees know you care and appreciate their commitment to the business.
7. Invest in the best
Digital transformation will change your business for the better, so you should invest in a digital transformation project manager to oversee the changes. This person should inspire others and be passionate about the company’s culture and future.
Don’t expect employees to do this on top of their current workload as they’ll feel resentful. If necessary, allow people to temporarily take on this role so they can devote their time to the project’s success. The project will need a mix of people with different skills including IT, planning and marketing.
The digital transformation team should be responsible for:
- Producing the strategy.
- Sourcing the technology.
- Planning the implementation.
- Training the workforce.
- Marketing the product.
This applies to both internal and external digital transformation. Suppliers working with a new order system will need as much training as employees to learn a new invoicing system.