A Digital Transformation Journey
In a recent report, IDC uncovered that 89% of organizations have adopted or have plans to adopt a digital-first business strategy. My gut tells me that a significant percentage of organizations “who have adopted” a digital-first strategy are large enterprises, leaving those in the small-to-medium (SMB) realm relegated to “planning to adopt” a digital-first business strategy.
The reasoning is quite simple – SMBs’ are constrained in their ability to work with consulting organizations that are becoming adept at all things digital and without this expertise, many simply don’t know where to begin their digital transformation journey. Well, here is a quick and practical approach to begin moving in the right direction.
Stages of a Digital Transformation Journey
There are four (4) fundamental stages that must be traversed to ensure the success of your digital transformation journey…
Stage I – Understand your Data
The initial step and by far the most impactful and profound action you can take is to simply gain a true understanding of the data you currently have on hand and how it is produced.
Next, you want to assess the value of the data and which data you believe can be used as the foundation to begin generating actionable information.
This stage is easy to describe and understand, however, it is tough to execute and is by far the longest segment of the journey and needs to run in parallel with the other steps required to become a digital-first business.
Stage II – Digitize
Simply put, digitization is the process of converting information into a digital format. The key is to get data and information from an analog form to a digital form so it can be easily searched, manipulated, and categorized.
Digitization is vital in ensuring that your most important data & information is ready to be used as the input for the next stage of the journey.
Remember, you need to be constantly thinking about your core business process and workflows that are your organizations' central nervous system. You want to focus on the areas with the highest returns to your business – customer experience, order-to-cash, employee on-boarding…
Stage III – Digitalization
Digitalization is the integration of digital technologies into everyday work life by taking digitized information and automating the mundane and error-prone processes that tend to be performed manually.
The automation and orchestration that can be achieved through robotic process automation (RPA) platforms such as UiPath, workflow automation that can be facilitated by offerings such as Zapier that allows end-users to integrate web applications without the need to be a software developer, and application programming interfaces (API) that exist and allow for the integration of a multitude of systems and platforms supporting the movement and transfer of data & information via a structured approach.
It's within this stage that you should be assessing potential changes to your current business model, begin looking for operational savings, seek out value-producing opportunities, and focus on building net-new revenue streams based on having access to the data that allows for developing impactful use cases that can be monetized.
Stage IV – Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of your business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers, strategic partners, and your employees.
In addition to the changes in processes, procedures, and workflows – digital transformation requires organizational and cultural change. It requires businesses to continually challenge the status quo, experiment with innovative approaches, and get comfortable with change.
This stage brings together all the data, information, processes, workflows, and technology to create a digital business that allows for frictionless customer interactions, the streamlining & optimization of processes and workflows, and developing the digital muscles that allow you to increase the scale and velocity of your business and operating model.
With the high-level framework outlined above, you can confidently develop your Digital Strategy and craft an Execution Plan that can be used as your roadmap to focus on the most critical areas that will provide you with the biggest bang for the buck.
If you’re looking for the most fruitful area to focus on, start with your client interactions and look to see if you can create more self-service opportunities that reduce cycles for you and your customers. Assess if you are having your customers enter or re-enter information into your systems that cause latent customer satisfaction issues that prevent new business from flowing to you.
In short, create a better customer experience (CX) and you can count on happier clients that spend more over their lifetime with you.
Once you’re happy that you’ve created an optimized customer experience, look to go after those internal processes and workflows that suck the life out of you and your organization.