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How to Achieve Digital Transformation that Sustains, Scales and Creates Success

The way we do business has changed. Team meetings are virtual. Sales calls and demos are digital. Even face-to-face networking has shifted to online platforms.

As we adapt and update our business models and operations to meet the changing needs of consumers, digital transformation is at the core of these IT upgrades. 2020 has seen the power that technology has on keeping our businesses active, current and responsive to consumer demands.

So much so that many businesses are looking to streamline their processes and make their operations more efficient by deploying new technologies. Businesses are seeking the benefits of a complete digital transformation to stretch far beyond the current needs created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Embracing new technologies, systems and processes is all part of a complete and comprehensive digital transformation, and with it, long-standing, future-proofing business growth.

What is digital transformation?

Automation, cloud-based document management and mobile-first experiences all dominate how we do business in 2020. Yet digital transformation is so much more than implementing some or all of these technologies.

Digital transformation is the organisational, operational and cultural changes that take place in a business, via a smart and strategic integration of digital technologies, processes, systems and capabilities across all levels, functions and roles.

Why upgrade, switch and transform now?

With so many of us spending the majority of 2020 working from home, we’ve seen the difference that improved collaboration, increased security and the work-from-anywhere approach has on our day-to-day working lives.

While brands were investing in their digital transformation strategies before the pandemic, now, we can see the new way of living and working. And it’s one that supports flexible working, saves on business overheads, and increases productivity and overall efficiency.

What is a digital transformation strategy? 

As our digital experiences reach our at-home working lives too, we’re adapting to new digital company-wide processes, systems and technologies. Increasingly, we’re adopting more digitally-advanced IT strategies to drive digital transformation.

Businesses can start to digitally transform by analysing their current IT infrastructures, data management and security practices by reviewing the technologies, processes and systems currently in place. Explore whether these are the most streamlined, productive and effective in enabling digital transformation.

McKinsey & Company’s Global Survey on digital transformations found that between 2013-2018 more than 80% of respondents said their organisations had undertaken these efforts. Yet, entering digital transformation commitments does not guarantee success.

In fact, previous research from the consulting firm found that less than a third of organisations’ transformation enhanced a company’s performance and managed to sustain any advances. Only 16% of those asked said both improvements in performance and sustained gains in the long-term had been achieved.

Digitally-savvy businesses in sectors such as high-technology, telecoms and media are among those struggling too, with the success rate of digital transformations failing to lift above 26%. Those in traditional industries such as automotive, infrastructure and pharmaceuticals hover between 4-11%.

We’ll look in-depth at how companies can make their digital transformation efforts a success. However, creating the structure and housing all the necessary information attached to the digital transformation project in a strategy is the first step.

A strategy provides a clear and comprehensive roadmap to direct your digital transformation actions. A digital transformation strategy enables you to move beyond the desire and brainstorming phase. It also helps you avoid the potentially inevitable sense of overwhelm that comes from the amount of information, resistance and change attached to your digital transformation.

A document management solution can support your digital transformation efforts by digitally managing all your documents to correspond to tailored workflows and processes and systems, providing a central repository for all your documents.

How can you make your digital transformation succeed?

As digital transformation remains elusive and complex, research is now being dedicated to understanding why certain brands succeed in their digital transformation strategies and initiatives, and why others do not.

There are a number of key factors that influence those businesses that succeed in their digital transformation strategies.

  • Deploying more technologies

While it may seem illogical and counterintuitive that more technologies make the likelihood of success in digital transformation higher, case studies suggest that this is very much the case.

Companies that utilise an increased number and variety of digital technologies, tools and methods are leading the digital transformation success stories. Namely, it’s traditional web technologies, cloud-based services and mobile internet technologies that are creating this digital revolution.

Big data and big data architecture, the Internet of Things, design thinking, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, advanced neural machine-learning techniques, augmented reality tech and additive manufacturing such as 3D printing are also prominent.

  • Upgrading to digital tools

For SMEs with smaller teams, especially those who are comfortable with digital applications and may even be working in a digital-savvy environment, digitising tools, processes and systems can help with the overall digital transformation.

Successful businesses who navigate the transformation landscape prioritise implementing digital tools to make information more available and accessible. They also provide digital self-serve tech for all to use and alter standard operating procedures to foster the uptake of new digital technologies.

New technologies that enable rapid prototyping, testing and market research along with the analysis of complex information and cross-functional team collaboration also support the uptake and use of digital technologies.

  • Leadership

Digital transformation impacts all parts, roles and levels within a business. Having the right leaders in place to drive these changes is crucial. Often, teams and senior management will change during digital transformation initiatives. Commonly, businesses will bring new leaders onboard who have experience in spearheading digital transformations or are well-versed in new and digital technologies.

As we see the business move to all things online accelerate in 2020, more and more businesses are employing a chief digital officer (CDO) to manage their digital transformation strategies. Initiative leaders, who manage the individual elements of either digital or non-digital activities to support the transformation, are also increasingly present.

Part of the leaders’ roles, especially those engaged in transformation-specific leadership positions, is to promote the importance of changing to new ways of working. They will encourage employees to challenge old processes and procedures and to make the switch to news ones easier.

  • Increasing capabilities

Outlining the training, development, talent-building and investment and skill set enhancement that will take place to support employees make the necessary shifts to achieve digital transformation is key.

Failing to understand the concerns, needs and capability gaps within the business and its workforce has a detrimental impact on the likely success of its digital transformation efforts.

As the business focuses on its transformation goals, it’s also crucial to consider how individuals’ roles and responsibilities may change. Redefining these for clarity is vital. Having digital transformation, innovation and initiative supporters in the various segments and functions of the business also helps to build stronger internal capabilities.

Throughout the digital transformation process, these team members will communicate, explain and implement new digital methodologies, processes and systems among colleagues to bridge the gap between traditional and digital technologies.

Investing in talent is key too, with a clear correlation between the adoption of workforce and talent practices and the overall success of the digital transformation. Leadership development programmes, cross-functional team building and understanding, skills and coaching development, hiring goals on specific skill needs as well as learning programmes all contribute to a digital transformation strategy that succeeds, sustains and scales your business.

  • Empowering individuals and teams

Team members often worry when they hear the words “digital transformation”. It often prompts the fear that jobs will be replaced by robotics and automation. In the digital revolution age, rather than replacing roles, these new technologies are designed to help teams carry out their roles better. After all, there’s no replacement for creative thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, collaboration and empathy.

When undertaking a digital transformation, the business’s culture, behaviours and internal communication initiatives play an important role in its success. A customer-centric approach, which the digital transformation needs, requires increased collaboration, risk-taking, learning new systems and embracing new ways of working.

Pairing this worry surrounding job security and role stability with these necessary changes is a complex environment for individuals to support and thrive in. One key way to overcome falling at the first of your digital transformation achievement objectives is to introduce clear, process-driven practices to the new ways of working.

Open work environments and continuous learning approaches support the transition that teams must undergo, while simultaneously, easing teams into these new ways of working.

Experimentation, innovation and playing with idea-generation contributes greatly to team morale as it builds trust and reassurance among workers that what they’re working on is highly valued, needed and respected.

Senior management and leadership teams that emphasise the importance of abandoning old ways of working in favour of new ways that make the lives of everyone involved better is a core factor in successful digital transformation strategies.

  • Internal Communication

Digital transformation requires a tremendous amount of change. These changes affect every facet of the business. Communicating this change story internally is vital to reassure your teams and explain its benefits. It enables employees to understand what changes they can expect to take place, why you’re engaging in them and the ultimate outcomes for both your employees and customers.

Good communication is a central part of the whole digital transformation strategy and story. It also helps to communicate the urgency of each step of the digital transformation journey. By engaging in a newsletter, emails or a content hub that specifically relays your digital transformation project, you’re able to relay goals, initiatives and updates as you progress.

How ait Systems can help

Both pre and during the current 2020 business landscape, we’ve seen the success that digital transformation brings businesses. It is success that is both sustainable and scalable. Across industries, teams and technologies, at this critical time, digital transformation is today providing business with a clear plan to move forward.

If you’re thinking about digitally transforming your business, ait Systems can help by providing an impartial and comprehensive review of your technologies, processes and systems. Understand how digital transformation will help your business succeed now, into 2021 and beyond.

For more information on how to achieve digital transformation for your business that sustains, scales and creates success, contact ait Systems today.

By Scott Hussey, AIT Systems