Let's Demystify Digital Transformation30 September, 2022
Contrary to popular belief, the phrase "digital transformation" refers to the process of moving from manual to digital processes in order to automate new or existing business processes, as well as the necessary adjustments to organizational culture and enhancements to customer experiences to satisfy market and consumer demands. This usually translates to creating faster, more convenient ways of doing things and we can see it in our everyday lives.
Every aspect of business is being transformed by digital transformation, from the back office to the front office, and from sales and marketing to customer service and experience. Think about all the ways we can interact with a brand. We can shop and buy online, pay bills, and resolve customer service issues. Brands can stay connected through apps, chat, social media, and other means, often without saying a single word. Of course, the most successful businesses understand that a combination of both is best; this requires a mindset that accepts the benefits of the new while still appreciating some aspects of the old.
Which industries have advanced further in their digital transformation than others is immediately apparent. Mom-and-pop shops, or privately owned small businesses, are likely to be on the edge, doing some things digitally but relying on physical functions. Numerous factories and utilities (such as energy, water, and gas) still rely more on physical assets and people than they do on digital processes (robotics, connected machines, etc.). But a significant change is about to happen. In terms of digital transformation, the financial, e-commerce, retail, media, and telecommunications industries are some of the more advanced. Education and healthcare are two industries that have undergone significant transformations in the last two years, primarily due to a lack of resources. Every sector will need to transform going forward.
The reasons behind this transformation could include any number of goals, including streamlining operations, onboarding, manual tasks, enhancing the service or product offerings, empowering employees or engaging customers. Each aspect of transformation will have its own set of parameters and goals.
There is no alternative to digital transformation. Visionary companies will carve out new strategic options for themselves – those that don’t adapt will fail.
Complexity is the number one roadblock businesses face along the journey. Businesses can automate processes using a wide range of software applications and platforms thanks to digital transformation. This can be daunting for companies with little or no experience in high tech. It can be overwhelming, but even this is becoming simplified.
Another not-so-obvious barrier, though apparent in many ways, is the resistance to change. In the past two years, for instance, most meetings have been conducted using conferencing tools like Zoom, Webex, or a similar platform, and a sizable portion of the population still misses face-to-face interaction. Ideally, we will continue to value in-person collaborations while recognizing the benefits of being able to connect remotely with people all over the world.
How do we ensure end users get better products, services and customer experiences from digital transformation? By listening to feedback. There is no more significant measure of a product or service than the customer response. Like digital transformation itself, this is a process. New offerings and solutions are tried and tested, then tweaked to improve, then tried and tested again until their full potential is realized. Then it's time to develop a new product. Many businesses rely on customer feedback, case studies and success stories to pinpoint where improvement is necessary or to demonstrate their products' and services' value and benefits. It requires collaboration with partners and customers on every level throughout an organization.
There's no doubt that the transformative future hinges on both the continued evolution of digital technologies and a workforce that is well-prepared, trained and capable of driving digital transformation forward. This requires, in particular, closing the existing skills gap, which has been widened by the pandemic. In the Red Hat 2022 Global Tech Outlook report, which surveyed 1,341 IT leaders and decision makers, "skill-set or talent gaps" were identified as the top barrier for organizations in achieving their digital transformation goals.
If the past two years have taught us anything, it's that digital transformation is no longer an option but essential for a wide range of industries, from financial services to healthcare, which is why investments in upskilling and training have exponentially increased. According to a recent Gartner report that surveyed over 550 human resource leaders, nearly 60% of respondents said that developing critical skills and competencies is their top priority in 2022.
In 2021, the Forbes Coaches Council published Three Steps To Meet Upskilling And Reskilling Demands Of Industry 4.0, underscoring just how important this will be in the coming digital-first world. Fortunately, there's a new breed of low-code and no-code development tools to accelerate digital transformation. Take payment processing, for example. A plug-and-play app enables the business to offer customers a credit card pay-by-phone option. This not only offers convenience to customers but also reduces the burden placed on call centers or in-house staff.
For many businesses, digital transformation is formidable, but it need not be. When we consider this the next logical step and natural evolution of the enterprise, we begin to see the value, opportunities and solutions that currently exist to aid in the transition. Working with an experienced partner and implementing solutions one step at a time is a sound strategy for long-term success.