Getting your digital transformation under way

Is your business digital? If not, it probably should be. Not to say that you should be in ‘computer services’ or building IT accessories… more that whatever you do, your customers and clients should be able to access it digitally (downloadable apps, online ordering, etc.); and that behind the scenes, you’re using technology to run your business efficiently.

The shift to a tech-utilising business model is known as digital transformation and if you’re not already making that journey, it’s time. And yes, as if you didn’t have enough to worry about with the impact of a global pandemic on your business… it’s hard enough to survive let alone gamble on changing the way you operate from the ground up. But in reality, the COVID-19 pandemic is an ideal opportunity: with potential customers confined or semi-confined, and high streets closed or semi-closed, it feels like online goods and services are the way to go.

However, a modern website or a fancy app is only the public face of your digital transformation… the real work goes on behind your public face and is all about culture

What is digital transformation?

The transformation comes in two halves:

  1. Outward-facing – you switch from analogue to digital in terms of how customers access your good and services; and maybe the goods and services themselves are digitized, or expanded by adding digital options.
  2. Inward-focused – you improve your business model, processes, procedures through the use of technology (imagine switching team communications from carrier pigeon to Slack).

The motivation might come from your customers (e.g. a demand for online shopping) or just the need to keep up with the competition and retain your market share. Whatever the reason, digital is the way to go…

Do you look digital?

For the outward-facing perspective, one way to ‘take your digital temperature’ is to look at to what extent you are using the following technologies, tools and methods identified in McKinsey’s 2018 global survey on digital transformations:

  • Web technologies, i.e. a website
  • Cloud services
  • Mobile internet
  • Big data
  • Internet of Things
  • Artificial intelligence and/or machine learning
  • Robotics
  • Augmented reality
  • Additive manufacturing (e.g. 3D printing)

What does a digital business look like inside?

If you’re using any of the above items in how you work, they’re also impacting the inward-focused side of the digital transformation coin. But tools and technology are never enough, a digital business brings the right attitudes and culture to how it uses those tools.

Do you have a digital culture? Ask yourself:

  • Is the customer and their needs central to your business strategy?
  • Have you minimized (or done away with) the silos, barriers and hierarchies in your organisational structure?
  • Do you collaborate with external partners (for many businesses, digital transformation is about engaging experts to develop your digital products and services rather than trying to acquire the expertise in-house)?
  • Do you innovate (constantly looking for new ideas for what you do and how you do it)?
  • Are your strategic decisions based on solid data (e.g. basing your innovation on researched customer needs; rather than a ‘hey, that sounds like a neat idea’ approach)?

Digital transformation success factors

The McKinsey research identified a set of 21 common factors among businesses that have successfully digitally transformed, summarised by five headlines:

  • Having the right, digital-savvy leaders in place.
  • Building capabilities for the workforce of the future.
  • Empowering people to work in new ways.
  • Giving day-to-day tools a digital upgrade.
  • Communicating frequently via traditional and digital methods.

As with any and all business or workplace change, the not-so-secret success (or failure) factor is your workforce. With the right culture, the right attitudes, the right people you can digitally transform. And that brings us back to COVID-19… Thanks to the pandemic, your people are already beginning to engage with these changes in their own lives. Ask anyone, they’ve probably shopped more online in 2020 than 2019 and at the least, that means they have the ‘digital customer’ perspective. Time to tap into that.

If you have any training needs we offer a very wide range of programmes, check out our website; or give us a call on 01582 463463 – we’re here to help.

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