Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. This reimagining of business in the digital age is digital transformation.
It transcends traditional roles like sales, marketing, and customer service. Instead, a digital transformation begins and ends with how you think about, and engage with, customers. As we move from paper to spreadsheets to smart applications for managing our business, we have the chance to reimagine how we do business — how we engage our customers — with digital technology on our side.
For small businesses just getting started, there’s no need to set up your business processes and transform them later. You can future-proof your organization from the word go. Building a 21st-century business on stickies and handwritten ledgers just aren’t sustainable. Thinking, planning and building digitally sets you up to be agile, flexible, and ready to grow.
As they embark on digital transformation, many companies are taking a step back to ask whether they are really doing the right things. Read on for answers.
First, you need to understand what’s possible with digital transformation.
A key element of digital transformation is understanding the potential of your technology. Again, that doesn’t mean asking “How much faster can we do things the same way?” It means asking “What is our technology really capable of, and how can we adapt our business and processes to make the most of our technology investments?”
Before Netflix, people chose movies to rent by going to stores and combing through shelves of tapes and discs in search of something that looked good. Now, libraries of digital content are served upon personal devices, complete with recommendations and reviews based on user preferences.
- IBM’s seven steps to digital transformation
- Hybrid cloud: the key to digital transformation
- Technology special: What is digital transformation?
Streaming subscription-based content directly to people’s TVs, computers, and mobile devices was an obvious disruption to the brick-and-mortar video rental business. Embracing streaming also led to Netflix looking at what else it could do with the available technology. That led to innovations like a content recommendation system driven by artificial intelligence. Talk about making the most out of your IT department!
Adapt your business to leverage digital transformation.
Similarly, digital transformations have reshaped how companies approach customer service. The old model was to wait for customers to come to find you, whether in person or by calling an 800 number. But the rise of social media has changed service much like it’s changed advertising, marketing, and even sales and customer service. Progressive companies embrace social media as a chance to extend their service offerings by meeting customers on their platforms of choice.
Making call centres and in-store service desks run more efficiently with digital technology is of course great. But real transformation comes when you look at all available technologies and consider how adapting your business to them can give customers a better experience. Social media wasn’t invented to take the place of call centres, but it’s become an additional channel (and opportunity) to offer better customer service. Adapting your service offerings to embrace social media is another good example of a digital transformation.