Digital transformation: what it means for your company and how to initiate change

Digital technology has changed work in almost every way possible. For consumers, the evolution of technology has updated how people:

Digital transformation
  • Shop for groceries, which can now be done through an app

  • Consume media, which is largely done through subscription-based services like Netflix or Hulu

  • Interact with finances, which can be done through your phone, versus heading to a local bank branch

For businesses, technological upgrades have changed the way you connect with consumers:

  • Paperless communication has overtaken direct mail

  • Media has broken down barriers allowing advertisers (for better or worse) to have multiple channels of putting messages directly in front of their prospects

  • E-commerce has minimized and in many cases, removed, the need for brick and mortar stores

To keep up with the continuing change, businesses around the world are developing and integrating digital transformation strategies.

What is digital transformation?

It’s likely you’ve heard the term digital transformation, especially as reports indicate that 40 percent of all technology spending in businesses will go toward digital transformations in 2019.

So, what is it exactly?

At its core, digital transformation is the concept of businesses reassessing how they can leverage digital tools in order to increase customer value. And, while that includes modernizing legacy technology, it primarily focuses on updating processes, organizational structure and workplace culture for optimal business performance.

Here are three key factors businesses should take into consideration when undergoing digital transformation.

1. Roles within an organization might be disrupted

Digital transformation will—and should—look different in every company. Making the necessary changes to how you operate and deliver value to your customers is dependent on:

  • The type of business you operate

  • The size of your organization

  • The needs of your industry

  • The age of your current processes and technology

As more companies start to make way for digital transformation in their own organizations, there has been a tremendous uptick of the ‘chief digital officer’ role—a designated digital leader.

However, a study by consulting firm Strategy&, which analyzed the CDO position at 2,500 public companies, found that this trend has now slowed down substantially. "Leaders at many companies now believe that putting a single person in charge of digital transformation may not be the best approach," the study concluded.

The study's findings urged businesses to begin implementing an important shift: moving away from traditional hierarchies. By restructuring your internal organization, employees can be viewed as key stakeholders within their own organizations and become more vested in expressing what your clients want, need and expect from your organization. Ultimately, this will help meet your company’s end goal more effectively.

The key takeaway: Rather than working separately on different goals, successful digital transformation means working together across teams to achieve a collective vision.

2. You must embrace change to remain relevant

It can be overwhelming to keep up with fast-changing technology, and, it's critical to keep pace so you can remain successful. But this doesn’t have to be as daunting or overwhelming as it sounds.

Take, for instance, Dr. Rich Constantine, a dentist from Greenville, South Carolina. A dentist's office is one of the most traditional businesses in existence. But, Constantine found a way to connect with people through arguably the most people-centric source: Facebook. Constantine rose to social media fame after posting a dance challenge video online, and the video has since garnered 90 million views, which is impressive given Greenville's total population of 68,219.

Constantine’s social success drives home the importance of adapting to new technologies. Since posting his video, Constantine said the office received 21 new local patients before noon, and the phone continued to ring off the hook. Now, Constantine posts weekly #JustAskDrC videos on Facebook, where he answers patients' questions and busts common dentistry myths. He has also created a nonprofit cancer foundation, an online store of licensed merchandise and has partnered with multiple oral care brands.

The dance challenge video led to Constantine becoming a content creator. And, in turn, he's found new ways to target his audience and help his patients, all while improving his business' brand.

The key takeaway: To succeed and expand your business in a similar fashion, you must be able to find new ways to adapt to technology.

3. Ensure your team can adapt to change

Finding a way to adapt to change is only the first step. Having a team that is able to integrate new systems and processes is key.

To ensure employees are able to keep up with—and embrace—the ever-changing world of technology, businesses must:

  • Create a dialogue: Transformation is not possible without proper and constant communication. Businesses must provide the tools to allow for easy communication. As such, your business should create and integrate a digital ecosystem.

  • Foster a culture of change: Digital transformation and culture go hand in hand. Without one, the other doesn’t work. Addressing and instilling a digital culture, such as integrating automated workflows and processes via apps like GoProposal and Ignition, before the transformation process beings will yield better results in the adoption of new technology and processes.

  • Invest in training: A lack of training is a top barrier to the success of a fully implemented digital transformation strategy. Avoid adoption issues by ensuring employees have an opportunity to learn new skills and keep up with the fast-paced technology environment. Try techniques like gamification and webinars and digitally transform the way you train your team.  

The key takeaway: Implementing digital transformation is a team effort. It’s critical that each employee’s role complements one another in order to benefit the greater good of an organization.

Digital transformation is not easy

Because technology will continue to change, the implementation of digital transformation will never stop. Businesses must remain vigilant by continuing to learn, evolve and adapt to current processes.

If you're looking for ways on how to successfully implement a digital transformation strategy within your business, check out the following articles for best tips and tactics: