We’ve seen a radical shift in recent years as organizations of all types have scrambled to move their business into the digital world as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to keep up with changing consumer demands. It’s not enough to just have a good product or service these days, you also have to compete in terms of distribution, marketing, service delivery, scalability, and the like – all of which require a fully digital approach.
In fact, the ability to digitize processes and bring a company into the modern age has become a competitive advantage for many – as the business landscape evolves to being digital first. This stuff isn’t easy of course. We’ve seen plenty of clients struggle with this transition, wasting lots of time and resources in the process. We’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, and so we thought we would break down some of the key components and considerations you should be thinking about as you go about your digital transformation journey.
1) Company Culture
The first thing that you have to get right is the underlying culture of your organization. You can have the fanciest technology, the most cutting-edge back-end, and the most innovative data structures – but if your employees are not on board with the direction you’re going in, you’re going to struggle. Digital transformation is as much about the change management as it is about the new technology itself. Right from the top you should be communicating clearly about why the changes are necessary and how they are going to pay off over the long run. By setting the example and messaging correctly, you can ensure that your culture is one that embraces change and is a willing participant as you look to digitize things. Without this, you’ll always be fighting uphill battles.
Digitization requires a unique set of skills and it’s worth investing in order to bring the right people into your organization to guide the project and manage all the necessary components. Some companies will choose to hire permanent employees for this, but this isn’t necessary in most cases. You could choose to partner with a technology firm who has the required expertise and leverage their experience as needed to get the job done. It’s a powerful way to do things because you get access to the expertise you need for as long as you need it, without having to commit to long-term contracts. You can handle digitalization on a project by project basis and retain the agility to adapt to changing circumstances as needed.
3) Long-Term Thinking
A common mistake we see with companies who are early in their digital transformation journeys is to get too excited with the various technology available and build something for their business of today. Then a few years later, the business has grown and scaled to a point where the system they have is not suitable. It’s crucially important that when you are building a foundational technological stack, that you’re thinking long-term about where the business is going. You want to build something that can scale along with your growth and remain relevant and useful for a long time to come. A little bit of foresight here allows you to build something that can last the test of the time, even if it costs you a little more in the moment. Build for the company of the future, not for where you are today.
4) Efficiency and Alignment
One of the benefits of digital assets and structures is that you can eliminate a lot of the duplicated work that is currently happening in your organization. So be sure to do a full evaluation of your various teams and silos to identify where you can automate or simplify processes to benefit multiple parts of your organization. You want your teams to be aligned and to be pulling in the same direction, but that only comes with doing the work to understand exactly what each team’s needs are and how you can build common systems and stores that can serve those needs. Every decision you make should prioritize efficiency and aim to eliminate unnecessary manual work. If you’re unsure of exactly what this looks like, consider working with a professional technology partner who can guide you through the process.
5) Iterative Development
The last consideration we’ll consider here is the idea of iterative development. It can be tempting to spend a lot of time creating the perfect digital transformation plan that is going to unfold over months, trying to articulate every nuance and potential outcome before you get started. But this doesn’t match to reality. Things change. You’ll never be able to predict everything. The best way to tackle this journey is to go one step at a time. Build something, test it in the market, and then iterate based on the feedback that you get. Rinse and repeat. This method of iterating as you go helps you build momentum and ensures that you’re aligned with what your customers actually care about. You’ll be surprised at how much you learn when you develop things in this way. Whereas if you are determined to stick to your original plan, you might just end up deluding yourself and building something that consumers didn’t actually want.
There you have it! Those are some of the key things to consider as you embark on a journey of digitalization. It really is a war, that isn’t an exaggeration. As you compete in the marketplace, what is going to set you apart is how well you can take your business and port it into the digital realm of the 21st century. By doing it well, you’ll make your business indispensable and it will be on the right side of history.