What is digital transformation? How can it impact your company's strategy, and where should you start the adoption of digital technology?
A recent ITPro article cuts through all the buzz and discusses the real practical benefits - and challenges. The article explains that the definition of digital transformation is the "process of using technology to radically change your business."
Another broad definition of digital transformation that we use at Alpha Software is:
The adoption and integration of digital tools and techniques across all business functions, so as to achieve speed, accuracy, and efficiency.
What Does Digital Transformation Mean?
Digital transformation involves replacing old, obsolete tools and processes with cutting-edge technologies and software applications to speed work. Digital transformation seeks to improve user experiences, streamline operations and increase productivity by transforming manual processes into high-speed digital ones. One example is how it can innovate supply chains.
Digital strategy does not focus on a single project. Instead, it describes a series of projects that together speed and improve how all aspects of a company operate.
The ITPros article explains that together these efforts "change every facet of an organization, from back-office operations to customer interactions." Companies that execute an effective digital transformation strategy can even achieve the end goal of making these different processes linked.
Although this business transformation can be difficult, the ROI can be enormous. Companies that successfully become digital businesses are "more efficient, data-driven and nimble, taking advantage of more business opportunities.”
Digital Transformation Requires a Cultural Shift
Transforming your business processes with digital technology means changing the way that cross-functional teams work. It involves challenging employees’ mindsets about existing processes. It applies technology to better connect the organization and encourage accurate information flow across the business to achieve business goals.
Effective digital transformation involves a complete rethink. It requires a deep-seated change in how businesses function and deliver value to customers.
Every business has a unique value proposition, business model, and work culture. As a result, it’s hard to explain digital transformation or its implications in one formula for every business. Digital transformation cannot be implemented with the exact same approach at every organization. Often, it doesn’t even utilize the same technologies.
Why Does Digital Transformation Fail?
Digital transformation initiatives can fail when they don’t have executive support. They'll also fail if they haven’t been clearly thought out. Another roadblock can be a lack of commitment from the wider organization or project stakeholders.
Management consulting firm Everest Group found that 73% of enterprises failed to provide any business value from digital transformation efforts. In addition, 78% failed to meet their business objectives, meaning that only 22% of projects achieved their desired business results.
These initiatives are not just about technology, they’re about changing how the company thinks about doing business. Digital Transformation requires a different mindset about how to assess and streamline tasks.
Companies shouldn’t just buy new digital technologies and ask employees to use them. Digital transformation projects should review current workflows and processes with the goal of streamlining that work. Accurate data collection and fast delivery of data should also be a focus.
Citizen developers need to take a careful look at routine business activities. They should understand how employees do this work, what processes they use, and where they could streamline efforts. They need to understand how business data is used during the process and what data is needed. Only then can they have a clear understanding of what employees need to perform their jobs better.
Once a proper examination is done, the team can determine where processes can be engineered with digital technologies. Companies can then take steps to source and assess specific digital tools that can help.
Strategy & Initiatives for Digitally Transforming Your Business
Remember that technology can not only automate tasks. It can also enhance information sharing and collaboration between employees, thus minimizing the time for making decisions.
Clearly, digital transformation goes much beyond simply replacing outdated technologies or processes with newer ones. It requires a completely new approach.
Work with digital transformation developers to envisage a revolutionary way of optimizing your business operations. Create better customer experiences, and streamlining business tasks. Remember that technology can not only automate tasks. It can but also enhance information sharing and collaboration between employees, thus minimizing the time for decision making.
Organizations that respond to the changing times are clearly the ones that will be ahead of the game. These companies are challenging employees to adopt new technology to streamline processes, cut costs, increase efficiencies, and respond quickly to customers.
Further reading: MIT Sloan report on building digital workplaces.
Why You Should Care About Digital Transformation Initiatives
All this may sound abstract, but these initiatives offer big payoffs for companies who do it right. IDC says that digital transformation projects could add $18 trillion in business value worldwide.
A Gartner report found that 66 percent of companies adopting digital transformation expect to generate more revenue. In addition, 48 percent of companies believe additional business will be brought in via digital channels. As for other benefits, 40 percent of respondents to the Gartner survey said new digital tools will empower employees. Thirty-nine percent said it will reduce costs.
Digital Transformation "How-To" Whitepaper:
How to Design the Right Digital Transformation Strategy
The authors of the ITPros article note that the key to success is designing the right strategy. A related Deloitte report, “Strategy, not Technology, Drives Digital Transformation,” warns companies not to focus only on technology adoption. He advises companies to use it as a means of overall business transformation.
In "Take-Two Technology Roads to Digital Experience Success,” Forrester analyst Ted Schadler makes specific recommendations for the first steps. He advises businesses to give first priority to investments that benefit customers and generate business value. After that, companies should embark on two parallel paths: launching quick projects that offer fast payoffs, and a long-term transformation.
The long-term path will ultimately have a bigger payoff. He suggests, "define the digital transformation outcomes you desire and then select and implement a modern platform." According to Schadler, this will deliver long-term agility and capabilities. He makes it clear that companies should leverage cloud technologies: "It's the future of digital experience platforms."
What Technologies Companies Should Focus On
Companies have many different types of technologies, and they’re not all created equal. Companies should adopt technologies that "help them harness and make sense of the vast quantities of data they are sitting on." They also need to prepare for future advances, such as AI and IoT.
Digital transformation requires technologies that harness and make sense of big data companies collect.
Initiatives should consider mobile, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and IoT.
The Digital Age During COVID-19
Recently, McKinsey reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically sped up digital transformation. “We have vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks."
Microsoft's CEO recently said that the company has “seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months."
Companies that had a 2 to 3-year digital business strategy have had to collapse those plans into months in order to:
- allow remote workers to access all required business systems
- enable social distancing around the office
- service customers that no longer come into their facilities
- utilize the tablets and smartphones employees and customers have at home to conduct business activity.
Examples of Successful Digital Projects
You don’t need to work for a large enterprise with large budgets to start a digital transformation effort. Here are examples of companies that used low-code software for digital transformation.
- Morgan Lambert is a UK-based company that specializes in gas and electrical safety management for public housing projects. The company wanted to speed energy inspections, improve safety and cut costs. By abandoning paper audits and moving inspections to mobile apps, the company sped work and improved safety.
- The City of Islip, New York needed to move paper and manual processes digital to better serve citizens. One developer was able to digitize many paper-based processes with low-code software. He built more than 60 apps in months, a process that would’ve taken more than a year with other methods.
- GBS Enterprises provides a wide range of "protection" services to the furniture, mattress and bedding, and pest control industries. It was looking to increase the productivity of its field service workers as well as the rest of the enterprise. The company digitized its call center and service dispatch operation by adopting mobile forms. Since going digital, the company has realized an 80% increase in productivity.
- Many restaurants and concession vendors have adopted The Snack Monkey to enable contactless ordering and payment of food and beverages. The solution not only helps staff practice social distancing but also speeds the time to deliver food orders.
Robinson Solutions provides facility services, maintenance, production support, technical services, and facilities management for its clients' production facilities. The Company wanted to create mobile forms that could scan QR codes and create forms automatically to speed tasks.
The company used Alpha TransForm mobile forms to read the QR code. The software then produced the list of tasks contained in that QR code. It also creates the list of questions that needed to be completed in the form. This dramatically increased worker productivity.
- The Royal Borough of Windsor built Volmapp - a mobile app for vulnerable citizens. It connects users to the services they need, including transportation to doctor's appointments, prescription delivery, and more. The app takes the process entirely paperless, speeding work and creating a faster more informed customer experience.
Digital Transformation Resources
Years ago, going digital or going paperless was a challenge, as the software developers you needed were hard to find and hire and the software wasn't easy to use. Everything has changed with the advent of low-code and no-code software.
Now, even the smallest companies can get started with some simple apps. Companies that are more ambitious can implement wider digital transformation strategies, that might include data cleansing, big data analytics, and even Robotics, AI/ML, or IoT.
Whatever your level of appetite for Digital Transformation, we've assembled some data, guides and advice to help you get started:
- Speed Digital Transformation
- MIT Sloan School for Management: The Digital Workplace
- Digital TransFormation is Tougher than You Think: Here's A List that Can Help
Digital Technologies to Transform Your Business
The meaning of digital transformation is not just limited to leveraging advanced technologies to streamline processes and drive efficiencies. It also includes harnessing and analyzing data to make sense of the big data that companies collect. Initiatives should consider mobile, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and IoT.
Finding the right mobile app development platform that delivers outstanding customer experiences is critical. Your solution must integrate with your existing software, collect more accurate data, and take advantage of the opportunities of mobile computing. Alpha Software offers the best technology to deliver on these needs.
Questions to ask to accelerate your company's digital transformation and select the right development platform.