Digital Transformation: Why All The Hype?
Have you ever had a discussion, argument, debate, interview or other conversation, and only after the fact, had all these great points come to mind? It happens to me all the time and occurred once again after recently doing a podcast with Seismic Software, talking about Digital Transformation.
Following the podcast, my mind began racing with ideas so I wanted to share those additional thoughts on the subject of digital transformation, why it is such a big deal, things to consider before going digital, and why you should be thinking about going digital right now.
Digital Transformation Starts from Within. You have to believe in its value in order to utilize it effectively. If you’re investing in digital transformation because “everyone else is doing it” or because you have to, it won't be as effective. I like to say it’s similar to a marriage relationship. If you get married because that's what you're supposed to do, it won’t last very long. You actually have to care about it and nurture it for it to work for your organization. Utilize digital resources for your own well being, not out of obligation and it will serve you far better.
Digital Transformation is Ripe with Opportunity. Businesses are catching on to the fact that technology can dramatically improve their bottom line and if they haven’t yet, they soon will. Put another way, if firms haven’t yet understood their customer’s needs and embraced this digital transformation evolution yet, they will or they will be missing out on a wealth of opportunity. The customer demand for digital transformation as a user is definitely there, especially if it makes their lives more convenient and simple.
Digital Transformation is a Package Deal. The key parts of digital transformation in an organization will take on the form of change management, technology/IT implementation, cybersecurity, customer experience, or process improvement. These will be the highest areas of demand in the future. Some firms may focus on one specific part, but the companies that implement the whole package will be the most competitive amongst their market. Sure, you can pick and choose, but not taking the package as a whole is fraught with risk.
Digital Transformation Technologies are Changing Daily. The great thing about digital transformation is that technology aiding the transformation is constantly evolving and improving, and is doing so at a more rapid pace than ever before. Technology innovation really began to accelerate since the bursting of the Dot Com Bubble in the early 2000’s and even more so into the early 2010’s. That said, acceleration is only going to continue into the 2020's and onward. There will always be new opportunities for improvement in this space and the challenge is going to be whether companies will be able able to keep pace with and implement these new advancements.
Digital Transformation is a Force Multiplier. Kind of like a military uses a sniper as a “force multiplier,” meaning one single person can have the same effect as many people in terms of a show of force, businesses can use technology in the same way. Any opportunity I can use technology to increase my own productivity, or that of my clients, I’m all over it. Technology has made my life so much easier because I can do more for my own business and for my clients while saving copious amounts of time and money in the process. It amazes me that people are still running entire businesses off Microsoft Excel when there are so many online cloud-based software systems that do the same work either partially or completely automatically, saving them tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in actual costs or opportunity costs.
Digital Transformation Also Means Knowing When Not to go Digital. The biggest challenges with Digital Transformation entails knowing when NOT to go digital. There are certain elements that inherently require personal interaction no matter how innovative digital your enterprise is. Your Point of Sale may improve efficiency by going digital, but what happens if that fails? Have you ever been to a self-checkout counter at a restaurant or market and something goes wrong? Have you ever had to wait 20 minutes because there’s one person monitoring five stations and they look like they’re ready to pull their hair out trying to manage so many issues at once? Digital transformation is essential for businesses, but they have to back that user experience up with impeccable human interaction when the customer requires it. People’s opinions, preferences, tastes change from person to person, and even if you examine one person alone, their preferences can change daily based on so many internal and external factors. So while some may like the digital experience, others prefer person-to-interaction, so that option should be available to them.
Digital Transformation is Already Underway With Your Competitors. You can’t know what kind of digital transformation your employees, customers, or your audience are going to want in the future, you can only look at what is being done now by others and leverage their successes after they’ve tried and tested new technologies. This is the safer approach with digital transformation, however, bear in mind that just because it worked for them doesn’t mean it will work for you. You need to take into consideration some key factors. Just to name a few, this includes the number of employees (do you have the manpower to back up operations if technology fails?), cash flow (can you pour money into maintenance and repairs?), company size (is the new technology scalable to handle larger companies or cost prohibitive for smaller companies?), and company culture (is your culture welcoming of change, specifically with respect to technology?).
Digital Transformation Can Be Risky. If you’re not keen to follow your competitors lead, you can take the risky approach and try to innovate on the digital front. However, be advised if you venture into the frontier of digital innovation, if done incorrectly you can do more harm than good. For example, a new transformation innovation may seem great on paper, but in the end, waste hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, and actually harm your reputation from a poor rollout or user experience, further expanding that waste. So make sure you consider the risk(s) if trying to pioneer utilizing new technologies.
Digital Transformation Still Has Room For Growth. There are two areas, in my opinion, that Digital Transformation could really make an impact, and that would be Project Management and New-Hire Onboarding.
In Project Management, the number of manual processes including status meetings, follow-ups, issues log maintenance, Gantt chart creation, strategic planning, and general human interaction, is ripe for improvement. It is not feasible to be completely automated, but a substantial amount could be improved by removing a lot of mundane tasks like follow-ups, escalation, synergy identification, and dependency monitoring, etc. Using AI or predictive analytics to help project managers plan and execute projects more effectively would be a smart opportunity for process improvement.
Another area for growth would be New-Hire Onboarding. That too would need some form of human interaction. After all, you wouldn’t want a new hire to feel like they’re isolated or talking to a computer their first day on the job. However, the training for a new-hire’s specific role would be a considerable time saver for a lot of employers. The opportunity cost of having one person step out of their job to train another means that now you’ve got two salaries being paid with minimal productivity during that downtime training. It may seem like a small amount, but when magnified by thousands of employees, that lost time and money adds up. Factor in high employee turnover rates, and now you can imagine the time and money savings that are possible from digitizing parts of the onboarding process.
In conclusion, if you haven't yet considered how digital transformation can significantly improve your customer's satisfaction and ultimately your own bottom line, I can't recommend enough that you start doing so now. It's never too late and as technology advances, going digital is not as costly as you may think.