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Digital Transformation: Not Just A Trend

Shawn Parrotte April 28, 2017

It’s easy to disregard something like “digital transformation” as useless business jargon. It’s a phrase you’d expect to be subject to alongside other eye-roll inducing buzzwords like “synergy” and “leverage” at your Monday morning meetings. But the truth is, it’s serious business.

In fact, according to Google Trends, interest in digital transformation (also known as DX) is at an all-time high. So why are so many people – business owners in particular – suddenly interested in something that sounds like it’s straight out of a science fiction novel?

Consider this: with the speed at which tech innovations are being developed, in addition to the sheer amount of data being created and stored every day (by 2018 it will be 500GB per second), businesses owners recognize that if they don’t keep up, they’re only setting themselves up for failure.

Digital transformation is truly the key to a unified customer experience in today’s digital world and something that positions an organization for an exceptional quality of service in a competitive, technology-driven market.

So let’s take a look at what digital transformation actually means, and what the key characteristics are, for a successful “transformation”.

What is Digital Transformation?

According to Merriam-Webster, the word transform “implies a major change in form, nature, or function.” So don’t think that digital transformation is simply dressing up your business with the latest digital marketing trends because it’s much more than that. Researchers from MIT agree: “Digital strategies in the most mature organizations are developed with an eye on transforming the business.” (Emphasis mine.)

DX isn’t something a business dabbles in either. One-off projects are a good way to get your feet wet, but don’t think that you can deliver a big project then proclaim “we’re transformed!” Getting everyone from the sales team on board with a CRM or developing a mobile responsive website for your distributors is a step in the right direction, but there’s much more fun to be had.

Digital transformation is really this: recognizing the inherent power of leading edge technology and developing ongoing strategies to leverage the potential that technology has for creating a more effective and efficient business and ultimately a better product or service.

Sounds like a mouthful, right? So, how do you do it? Let’s look at five key characteristics of a successful digital transformation.

Leadership & Culture

In order to be successful DX has to be a core initiative of the leadership in an organization. It can’t be just the marketer or product designer’s pet project. For it to be truly transformative the executive team needs to recognize the value of being proactive in implementing new technology and be committed to bringing that philosophy to life in the business.

Once the leadership buys into the DX “crusade”, then it will likely start to seep into the culture of the organization. Meetings, memos, conversations, and the like will reflect the new digital strategy, ideas will start to form on their own, and innovation will embed itself into the core of the business.

Have a Vision

Simply recognizing that your business could benefit from integrating new software and technology is one thing, crafting a vision for what that looks like in the future is a totally different matter.

Instead of reacting to the market, like begrudgingly adding your business to yet another social media network, proactively envision how your business could serve its customers in new and innovative ways.

The reason Apple was so successful was because the vision that Steve Jobs had for both personal computers and the smartphone. That vision was so powerful that he captivated the entire world with what he saw to be the future.

There’s no reason your business can’t do the same thing.

Start Small (Projects & Teams)

If you currently think your business is playing catch up (as most imagine that they are) there’s no harm in starting a few smaller projects for some easy wins.

This could be as simple as installing a chat widget on your website so prospective customers can interact with a member of the sales or success team if they have any questions (we recommend SmallChat) or starting an email newsletter to keep your warm leads nurtured until they’re ready to buy (we recommend Mailchimp).

Additionally, you might want to start with a core group of people tasked with researching and implementing these smaller initiatives before ramping up to bigger projects, like a custom mobile application.

Capture Data

One of the key advantages of these initiatives is how much data you can extract from the solutions you implement and how powerful that data can be for the future of your organization.

For each project, be mindful of which metrics are the most important to capture and understand where they need to be to impact the business in a positive way. This could mean web traffic, download speeds, monthly active users, impressions, open rates, or a slew of internal metrics.

More and more things are becoming quantifiable. There are plenty of opportunities to understand what’s working and what not there’s so there’s no reason to ignore the vital data about your business.

Get Everyone On Board

After you have some easy wins under your company’s belt, and the momentum is ramping up, consider the impact of large, game-changing projects on your organization.

For example:

  • Tying together multiple streams and sources of consumer data to learn how your customers want to interact with your product and from which devices.
  • Connecting your ERP system to a mobile application to instantly have accurate inventory available for your remote sales teams.
  • Integrated content marketing strategies that leverage user’s unique preferences when interacting with your brand.

Initiatives like these require a team effort and the more parties collaborating the better. Get each stakeholder together as well as the people directly affected (either staff or customers) and have a deep conversation about the proposed solution.

Digital Transformations that truly are transformative can be a huge undertaking – especially if your current systems have been in place for a long time. If you have any questions or want to discuss what DX might mean for your organization, please reach out so we can chat about easy wins, game-changing projects, or anything else.

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