Digital transformation has become something of a buzzword in recent years, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant for businesses in all sectors.
If you dig through all the soundbites there’s only one question that really needs answering: what does an organisation have to do in order to succeed at transforming to embrace these new opportunities?
For me there are four key pillars of digital transformation that, once mastered, will help you operate more effectively in the digital age:
- Focusing on user experience
- Connecting digital processes
- Delivering digital at speed
- Empowering the organisation
Let’s go into each of them in more detail…
1.Focusing on user experience
User experience: another buzzword, perhaps, but really just a new term for an age-old concept that all organisations worth their salt should be on top of.
It’s essentially the art of making sure your users, whether they be customers, citizens, employees or partners, have a fantastic experience with your brand whenever and wherever they interact with you. On top of this, the experience must be consistent as they move from one touch point to another, be it face-to-face or via one of the many digital channels.
Take retail, for example: it’s no good for a customer to buy a product through one channel but not be able to return it through another. The last thing consumers want to experience is a ‘computer says no’ moment!
The essence of achieving this is to make sure that you are designing ‘out-side in’ and focusing on the user journeys – effectively putting yourself in your user’s shoes and determining what is important to them in terms of what they want to achieve, for example not just selling a mortgage but helping someone move house.
2. Connecting digital processes
I see plenty of companies focus on digitising the customer-facing parts of their organisation – the bits everyone sees and talks about. But often if you look deeper you’ll find lots of the nitty-gritty operational processes aren’t working efficiently or effectively. This is what I call the organisation being a ‘digital swan’: serene above the surface, but underneath there is plenty of paddling going on.
You’ll have some organisations with disconnected processes and systems: the dots don’t always join up easily. How many of us have heard a contact centre agent say “I’ve got to go onto another system,” or worse, “I’ll have to put you through to another department”?
And while some businesses have elements of digital in place, many retain highly manual processes (with ‘swivel chair’ interfaces between systems) or paper based processes. Digital provides an opportunity for companies to streamline and integrate processes from end to end, and that should be their focus.
If you don’t do this, you’re not going to be efficient and effective and you will negatively impact the all-important user experience I mentioned above.
3. Delivering digital at speed
Traditional organisations are geared up for what I call the ‘waterfall’ approach. It takes a long time for them to bring a new idea to market.
They tend to be cautious, conservative – taking their time to run analysis and design before finally getting around to making something live.
The problem with this approach is that the world now moves much more quickly than it once did. And so if you’re not quick enough to market the opportunity is already gone.
A truly digital company, however, should be agile and able to move quickly from the spark of an initial idea to the point it starts bringing value to the business.
It’s about taking that minimum viable product and testing and learning as you go, then taking that feedback and incorporating the flexibility needed to tweak your project while it’s live. This way, you take advantage of the initial opportunity but also have a much better product in the long run because you’re constantly evolving it as you go with feedback from your customers.
All this requires a different set of tools, integrated processes and, more importantly, a huge shift in culture. Which leads me to my final point…
4. Empowering the organisation
None of what I’ve covered here matters unless every employee in your organisations is empowered to work digitally.
Digital should not be locked in an ivory tower – it’s about tapping into people that understand your customers and the product and then empowering them to innovate and create services that better serve those customers.
It’s up to IT departments to act as an enabler for the business and to facilitate innovation rather than trying to ban Shadow IT (you can read my previous blog on why a ban on Shadow IT is a ban on innovation for more on that).
It has to work from top to bottom to get the best ideas, from executives all the way through to apprentices.
It’s not necessarily the most senior people who will have the best ideas, so you just have to create an environment where ideas can be brought together, nurtured and put into practice.
Only when you get that part right, along with the three strands I mentioned earlier on in this post, will you be able to drive forward effectively with digital transformation.
Download our whitepaper, ‘The Four Essential Pillars of Digital Transformation’, for lots more insight and information.
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