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Business Growth Insights

What is Digital Transformation?

Written By Richard Mawer

Richard is the founder and CEO of Ignite Growth Consultancy, he is an expert in digital marketing, strategy, sales, processes and systems. Also the author of the #1 Amazon best selling book "Remarkable Business Growth", he has been helping small business owners to grow to £1m turnover and beyond for the past 25 years using his proven STEPS Growth Methodology.

Recent events have highlighted the fact that things can change rapidly overnight and it is important to know what is digital transformation. To survive, businesses have had to quickly adapt and find new ways to work. Which explains why, according to the IDC Worldwide Digital Transformation Spending Guide, the path to digital transformation (DX) has continued solidly – right through the recent pandemic.

In a bid to stay competitive companies all over the world are investing in ambitious digital projects – with greater or lesser degrees of success. The term ‘digital transformation’ has become a much-touted phrase – but what exactly does it involve?

The definition of Digital transformation is:

Any strategic initiative that applies data science and marketing technology to solve fundamental problems sitecore

Digital transformation processes aim to reinvent ways to put the customer first, by taking advantage of digital software and systems to create seamless experiences for them.

The path to digital transformation

The road to digital transformation looks different for every company however there are some common threads to ensuring a company succeeds in becoming digital led.

Here are some ways to ensure a smooth transition to digital success:

1. Communicate a vision of digital transformation

Transformation requires rigorous planning – and buy-in from all stakeholders, including top management. Everyone needs to see that investment in digital will give measured return on investment (ROI). Executive buy-in ensures decisions can be made quickly and if leadership takes a proactive role in digital transformation they can manage expectations and share them, company-wide.

2. Secure investment

The saying ‘you pay for what you get’ holds true for digital transformation. Only companies that commit financially to the required investment will achieve successful digital transformation. While investment may lower profits in the short term, lack of investment can only pose a serious risk to longer term profits.

To build a business robust enough to compete in the future companies will need to find a way to fund

  • New technologies
  • New expertise – by hiring new people, training or buying in consultancy services
  • Potential partnerships or joint ventures
  • In-house innovation

3. Promote a digital-first culture

It’s essential to promote the right culture to get your transformation off the ground so education should be a primary focus. It’s essential that every employee understands what’s happening and why within the business.

What is digital transformation

Without transparency, it will be impossible to get teams behind digital projects. Rather than making decisions based on what competitors are doing make the starting point creating value for your specific customers. Start making changes by testing out marketing messages to find out what’s working and what’s not. This will help keep staff invested in the process.

4. Fill knowledge gaps

Skills and systems will need to be updated during digital transformation. Companies need to attract people with the requisite digital competencies to help drive the process. However it’s impossible to hire a lot of new digitally skilled staff all at once, so success will depend on helping existing staff acquire or develop new skills around technologies, processes and operating systems.

All staff – not just the IT department – need to be educated and updated on new methodologies – as well as understand the strategic value of digital operations.

5. Focus on personalisation

Personalisation is behind the new digital experiences of customers and it’s this that will successfully drive digital transformation. Each company needs to decide how to implement personalisation within their marketing strategy.

6. Create engaging content

A consistent stream of high quality content is the cornerstone of a memorable customer experience. Marketing automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are useful to some extent – especially around content strategy and implementation – but the content itself requires human intelligence and creativity.

7. Set clear targets

Poor communication sounds a death knell to even the strongest of strategies and this includes digital transformation. Companies must identify and circulate concrete information around key targets and milestones to aim for. And provide stakeholders with a clear road map of where the company means to go. Every aspect of the journey needs to be detailed by regularly sharing data around:

  • Cost savings
  • Revenues
  • Improved performance
  • Customer and employee satisfaction

Targets can be set around the percentage of processes to be automated, the percentage of transactions that are to be migrated from one channel to another, the level of personalisation that will be achieved and the number of campaigns that will run every quarter.

Digital transformation offers incredible opportunities for organizations to improve customer service, optimise internal processes and innovate their way to a sustainable future. However it’s often easier said than done. According to McKinsey over half of all UK projects fail to realize their desired objectives.

Digital transformation is imperative for companies of all sizes from startup to enterprise. It’s about far more than simply moving to the cloud – it requires specific steps and a new framework of working. For this reason many companies seek the advice of external consultants – to help them overcome the many challenges that arise on the path to transformation – from vision to execution.

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