Have a smartphone attached to you at all times? Use cloud applications on a daily basis? Technology has certainly affected our personal lives, but it’s also changed the way we do business. Even if you haven’t heard the term ‘digital transformation’ yet, odds are you’ve got at least a couple of initiatives already in the works that would fall under its umbrella. The time is now to refocus, and turn those initiatives into a full-fledged digital transformation strategy. Let’s break down what digital transformation is–and how to do it right.
What is Digital Transformation?
When Altimeter released its 2014 State of Digital Transformation report, it included what Forbes referred to as this “clear definition” of digital transformation: “The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.” But what does that mean, exactly?
Put simply, digital transformation is about the growth of operational processes and business activities, all the while using technology to become more efficient and strategic. Elements of a large-scale digital transformation strategy can include devices you use, data you gather and analyze, cloud computing, network usage, and the mobile functionality of your company.
In today’s mobile-first, cloud driven world, technology and your business’s ability to embrace digital transformation will make a big difference in how you stack up against the competition. It’s important to note here that simply spending more on emerging technology does not equate to a successful digital transformation strategy. For that to happen, those investments need to boost business outcomes. Let’s explore how to make that happen.
How to Ensure Your Business is Getting it Right
A report by Harvard Business Review identified four mega-trends of digital transformation: Mobile (for enabling new business scenarios), cloud computing (for driving business agility), big data (for helping with innovation), and social channels (for transforming core business processes). The potential benefits of having all of those boxes checked include optimizing business operations and boasting phenomenal end-to-end customer experiences.
The value of mastering digital transformation is clear—after all, if your consumers and partners are embracing digital, yet you’re a late adopter—well, the outlook isn’t good—certainly when it comes to communication, as well as opportunities to build your company and boost profitability.
The question at hand, then, is not why you need digital transformation but rather how you approach its adoption. How do you ensure that your business has implemented a digital transformation strategy that’s both efficient and effective? Consider the following points.
Mobile. Forty-four percent of the respondents to HBR’s study said that mobile is a critical part of their overall infrastructure today—the most frequently adopted of the four mega-trends. If applicable, have you equipped your employees with smartphones, tablets, or other devices? Have you developed any mobile applications for consumers, partners or employees to use to streamline processes? What about your internal infrastructure—can it handle the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) culture?
Cloud computing. Fifty-three percent of study respondents cited the cloud’s ability to provide flexibility in capacity on an as-needed basis as the biggest benefit of adoption. In short, using cloud the right way can make your business more agile without costing a fortune from an infrastructure standpoint, and people are noticing. Have you considered a public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid scenario? Have you paid close attention to the security implications of your decision based on your industry?
Big data. Seventy percent of study respondents said they expect big data to transform their organizations going forward—and why wouldn’t it? Big data is everywhere—you generate it, you collect it, and you (hopefully) analyze it. Do you use it to grow, though? Do you use that insight on the back end to generate more and better ideas, quickening decision-making and operational processes? If not, it might be time to reframe your internal conversation about big data.
Social channels. Fifty-one percent of survey respondents said the biggest benefit to using social channels was the ability to effectively communicate with customers. Employee collaboration (37 percent) and customer service (35 percent) came in a close second and third, respectively. What’s that have to do with digital transformation? Exceptional use of social channels breeds conversation and connection, both internally and with customers (not to mention that it also helps with marketing initiatives). Combined with other elements of a complete digital transformation strategy, social can be the glue that holds the pieces together.
How is your company approaching digital transformation? If you’ve seen the phrase used, but considered it little more than a buzzword in the past, chances are good you’ll be paying more attention soon. And it’s likely there are probably already some things you’re doing with cloud, mobile, big data, and/or social, that mean you’re on your way—you just might not be thinking of them using the phrase ‘digital transformation.’ Do you have a digital transformation strategy? If not, do you think you’ll be creating one in the near future? I’m writing a book on digital transformation and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Additional Resources on this Topic:
Marketers’ Focus for 2016: Digital Tactics that Help Acquire, Convert, Retain Customers [Report]
How’s the Innovation of Your Digital Transformation Going?
Exploring the Future of Digital Transformation and Disruption
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