Whenever a new technology is introduced, a new practice emerges, or research changes thought leadership, people often look at the information like it’s a blueprint. The veritable “Word of God.” The reality is that many emerging trends may not apply the same for one organization as they might for another. When it comes to digital transformation, the same principle is true. There will always be underlying ideas that benefit all business, but not all technological advancements will work the same way for every company.
What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is different from digital evolution. It’s the process that occurs when a business hasn’t quite reached its potential with digital solutions either for customers or internally. It’s not necessarily a restructuring or a turnaround, but it is a visible change that may affect processes across the board. When a company undergoes a digital transformation, it is moving back into alignment with the needs of employees and consumers. However, there are a few growing pains that businesses often have to overcome for a successful transformation.
Obstacles That Affect Making the Transition
A digital transformation may be uncomfortable for management. The moment a business opens the doors to the digital world is the moment that transparency becomes an important part of the business model. For most companies, the benefits outweigh the risks, but it may take time for everyone on the team to see that.
The goal of a digital transformation is to bring everyone, from the consumer to the account manager, up to speed with relevant, technology-driven solutions that facilitate business processes. If you think about who the transformation will primarily affect, it makes sense that those are the areas a business should look to for inspiration. However, businesses tend to look to outside consultants, media reports, and other 3rd party sources first. The resulting information provided may be helpful to a company, but it may not address the problems their employees and customers face on a daily basis.
Businesses can overcome these obstacles by approaching the digital transformation from a place of innovation and openness. The process should highlight the culture of a company and strengthen business teams with a common goal.
Making the Change in All the Right Places
If it’s time for a digital change, businesses can start out on the right path by identifying major problems facing the company. Some businesses like to jump on board with an outside proposal and run with it. However, if a company doesn’t take the time to understand where their digital weaknesses truly are, the transformation may not be successful. The pain points will likely be very different for a boutique outfit than for a large enterprise level corporation.
Perhaps realizing that a business has to listen to their customers is the most important way to ensure a successful digital transformation journey. Use company-centric data to get a good picture of what your company is actually missing in the digital space. Find out how customers are engaging with your brand online, what your target market is searching for, and what type of content they prefer to interact with.
Your customers may even be trying to connect directly with your business. Look for trends in what is currently being said, and take the time to learn more about who makes up your market. Are they young adults who are technologically savvy? Do they prefer a quiet lifestyle away from urban environments? Understanding the personality of your customer base will largely inform you about the digital trends that are worth investing in.
Ask employees what they have noticed when interacting with customers, and don’t forget to open the floor for honest and transparent discussion. Some of the best ideas for change may not come from your middle-management team, but from the new customer service representative who hears the frustration in a customer’s voice every day. Embrace good ideas, wherever they come from.
Implement the Right Solutions
Once you know the right places to look, the solutions will reveal themselves. Remember that a digital transformation can’t start from the bottom or in the middle of the company, regardless of how many people are looking for change. A successful digital transformation requires dedication and input from senior officers or an owner who personally takes ownership of and drives the changes. A digital transformation doesn’t have to be painful for a company. In fact, it should help a company become more unified and goal-oriented. Focus on adding value to the people the company affects every day and the right digital transformation will fall into place.
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This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. For more on these topics, visit Dell’s thought leadership site Power More. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.
Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.