Investing in digital transformation can be either one of the best or one of the worst decisions your company makes. Whether it’s digital transformation with a B2B e-Commerce solution or just a new cloud-based data analytics program, the success of implementation rests in your planning and execution processes.
Most companies know that they need to embrace digital transformation sooner rather than later, but not many understand how to go about doing so successfully. The type of technology that will be used is, of course, an incredibly important part of the mix, but operational and organizational change should be the first place where businesses begin their transformation.
Below are five tips to help your business develop a strategy that will help you succeed with digital transformation.
1. Start With A Vision
Focusing solely on what technology is available to you is the wrong the way to start your digital transformation journey. There are almost too many technology options available. You could be re-evaluating your business for years without even seeing half of what’s out there, so it will be more efficient to identify your priorities before exploring your options.
Taking a step back and fully assessing your business objectives is the best place to start. What are your short-term and long-term goals? Do you want to increase the efficiency of your marketing department this year while also increasing revenue? Are you looking to better serve your customers online?
It’s important to determine goals for your entire company, not just on a department level. Sales could have one idea for improvement while accounting has other plans. Take all of the goals and ideas you have throughout your company to establish a clear vision before you begin researching solutions.
2. Take Your Time
The pressure of digital transformation can lead some organizations to change too much, too quickly. But transformation just for the sake of transformation is never a good idea. It’s great that you want to modernize your business and make changes for the better, but doing so without taking the time to consider the effects is asking for failure.
Introducing new technology will be both a cost and time investment, one that will vary considerably based on the size and needs of your organization. Whatever you decide to do with your digital transformation strategy will involve training your employees, which will take time away from their regular job duties. There also will be logistical concerns to think about, like your cloud storage capabilities, Internet speed and IT needs.
You may also need to think about creating a new role in your company or altering someone’s current job to handle the execution and ongoing management of your digital transformation strategy. Be sure to take your time researching, planning and strategizing what you’re hoping to achieve and give your team plenty of time to get on board with your ideas.
3. Help Employees Adapt
Creating a culture that embraces digital transformation will help to make sure your entire company is on board with any coming changes. Setting expectations from the very beginning will make is much easier for everyone to adapt to any changes.
If you’ve seen the show Mad Men, you might remember the season when the advertising agency installed its first computer. For an office in the 1960s, this was a game-changer. The equipment was the size of a conference room and the noises coming from the machines were almost deafening, but the company’s leadership knew it would give them a competitive edge. Needless to say, the employees were skeptical and feared that this digital transformation would make their jobs obsolete.
What leadership failed to do was include employees in the process from the very beginning. It’s no wonder why everyone was terrified of the change, since it seemed to just happen overnight. The sudden transformation was seen as a threat by the employees, which made them resistant to any change whatsoever.
Your employees are the lifeblood of your organization, so you need them to be on board with your plans. Leadership should be totally transparent with what’s going on by communicating the vision and goals for any new technology as soon as possible. This way, your employees will feel minimal disruption and will have time to ask questions and welcome the change.
4. Consider Things From Your Customers’ Perspective
One of the most important things to consider is how your customers could be affected by your digital transformation.
While strategizing your implementation plan, you should focus on the customer journey and map out how it could be affected by any upgrade you make. For example, if you’re implementing brand-new technology, like an e-Commerce store, it’s likely that your customers will need to change the way they make purchases. Going from placing orders over the phone to an online self-service option will possibly affect their own operational processes, so you should come up with a plan on how to introduce them to your new technology to avoid any issues. This new plan should align with any changes you’re making to your internal processes.
5. Be Prepared For Ongoing Change
The good news and the bad news is that technology is constantly changing and there isn’t really an end to the possibilities of digital transformation — think about how far we’ve come in just the past few decades!
In addition to changing technology, customer behavior is also an ever-evolving factor for nearly every business. Half of all B2B researchers are now Millennials, which is a generation that has never known a world without modern-day Internet. In the next decade, who knows what other generational characteristics could change customer buying habits?
Getting started with digital transformation begins with awareness and openness to change. From there, you should assess necessary internal organizational changes and communicate your vision with your employees as soon as possible. Remember: The technology should be one of the last things you think about when it comes to digital transformation. Focus on how your company will be affected first, and you’ll be on the path to success.
Rohan Wali serves as a Principal with the Hitachi Solutions Commerce Suite team. He has over 13 years of implementing e-Commerce specializing in integrations with various Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM solutions.