Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination

winding-road

This is a guest post from Benjamin Shepardson, web development guru and founder of NoStop Content Services.

Digital transformation is an exciting prospect in the business world of today. And yet, many high-profile digital transformations fail.

This isn’t due to a failure of the concept, but rather a failure of execution. Businesses struggle to pull off digital transformations because their concept of how a digital transformation works is entirely wrong.

It’s not a destination. It’s a journey.

Here’s why digital transformation is a journey, and how you can change your approach to create a more successful transformation.

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is a buzzword of the moment. But to understand how it works, you first need to know what it means.

Digital transformation is a radical rethinking of how businesses think about and utilize their technology. But it’s not about technology, not really. You see, when digital transformation focuses solely on technology rather than the factors surrounding it, these transformation efforts are doomed to fail.

It’s not as uncommon as you think–70% of all digital transformation initiatives at large companies fail to meet their goals.

Why does this happen? Because companies think that it’s all about technology and that it’s a stop in the road rather than the road itself.

Drivers of Digital Transformation

To eradicate this issue in your digital transformation, a good place to start is a basic understanding of the drivers of digital transformation.

Or rather, the driver of digital transformation: strategy.

A digital strategy is a critical factor behind digital maturity, the grand pursuit of the digital transformation process. Among digitally mature companies, 80% have a clear, coherent strategy. Among companies in the early stages of digital maturity, only 15% had a clearly developed digital strategy.

Building a Digital Transformation Framework

So, you need a clear strategy in order to have a digital transformation. Part of crafting a clear strategy towards digital growth is having a framework to bring that strategy to fruition.

This framework and the strategy behind it are largely dependent on the needs and aims of your organization. As such, the framework is usually personalized to the needs of your business. However, there are a few commonly cited features, such as:

  • Customer experiences
  • Digitizing operations to address operational agility
  • Optimizing culture and leadership
  • Digitizing products and services
  • Enabling your workforce
  • Integration of digital technology to optimize your operations

Addressing these issues is how you take your company through the stages of digital development:

  1. Business as usual (where you are now)
  2. Present, aware, active (looking to make a change)
  3. Formalized (actively building a strategy to change)
  4. Strategic (working through your strategy in real time)
  5. Converged (seeing that strategy come to fruition)
  6. Adaptive and innovative (digital transformation making a real impact on your business)

Can you spot where many businesses fail?

Most businesses start at point #1 and try to leap straight to point #5 or point #6 without clearly articulating how they’re going to get there–or recognizing the time required to achieve their goals.

Let’s take a look at a few of the key elements in your digital journey.

Transforming Customer Experiences

At the root of it, what you’re really trying to accomplish with your digital transformation is a total overhaul of your customer experiences. After all, your customers are the most important stakeholders in your business–without them, your company cannot survive.

There are three major building blocks that companies can use to transform their customer experience:

  1. Customer touch points
  2. Customer understanding
  3. Top-line growth

Take, for example, customer touch points. These are the points at which you interact directly with your clients.

Many businesses are struggling to meet the demand for an integrated customer service experience, especially if they have multiple customer engagement channels. You see, it isn’t just about how you interact with your customers–it’s also about how you provide an experience to your customers.

The only way to go about this successfully is to map where you are, figure out what gaps you need to fill in order to reach your goals, and develop a strategy to address these issues systematically.

Transforming Operational Processes

Customer service transformation is the most visible (and in some sense the most outwardly rewarding) part of digital transformation, but the parts that customers can’t see are just as important. In fact, by neglecting these less-visible stages of digital transformation, your company may have trouble bringing customer service transformations to life.

Transforming your operational processes is a behind-the-scenes undertaking that optimizes your logistics, improves internal operations for greater efficiency, and enables your workers to be better at what they do each day.

And this transformation, like others, takes time and strategy to execute.

Take, for example, worker enablement. First, you need to identify what your employees need to do better at their jobs. Then, you need to identify what you can do to bridge that gap. From there, you have to figure out a cost-effective way to transition your employees into a new method of doing things while updating your surrounding processes.

Without a plan and a clear timeline, none of this could happen.

Transforming Your Business Model

Finally, a big part of digital transformation is the huge undertaking of transforming your business model.

This can start small, with digital modifications to your existing business. But these modifications may reveal other deeper issues that require larger changes, leading you to create whole new digital businesses while globalizing your digital processes to maximize efficiency.

It’s a big task. It’s a long one, too. But the truth is, you can’t afford to ignore it.

Technology transforms every single day. Businesses must constantly adapt to keep pace with the world–just look at how department stores have had to adapt to stay competitive against Amazon’s steady march across nearly every retail sector.

This isn’t a destination. This is a long learning process.

Starting Your Digital Transformation

Digital transformation can be an immensely rewarding process–if you know how to do it. The key is not a particular technique, per se, but rather a transformation in how you think about this process.

It’s not a single destination. It’s a total redesign of how your business approaches problems, and a redesign of that scale requires an ongoing learning process from the whole company.

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This is a guest post from Benjamin Shepardson, web development guru and founder of NoStop Content Services.

About Benjamin

Benjamin ShepardsonBenjamin Shepardson is a web development guru and founder of NoStop Content Services. As the company’s leader, Ben brings to the table an innate ability to help small businesses compete with larger competitors through content strategies and SEO. You can find Ben’s talents on Twitter at @nostop_content.

 

Thanks to Pixabay for the image.

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