Regardless of industry or business size, this year has brought with it one of the most unplanned reasons for businesses to accelerate their digital transformation strategies.
Whether the necessary technology was in place or not, companies have been forced to reactively transform entire business models and adjust to remote working on the fly.
Now that companies have had some time to settle into this new normal, it’s imperative that mindsets change from reactive thinking to proactive. What companies do now will impact how well they perform in the future.
For marketers especially, technology is beginning to play an increasingly important role as companies continue to adjust to the constantly evolving expectations and behaviors of consumers.
2020 has been tough on individuals as well as businesses, so finding ways to comb through recent customer data and turn insights into empathetic marketing approaches is creating a new need for tech like AI.
But digital transformation has long been a challenge for many organizations. In fact, half of DX projects fail. And especially in the current climate, making investments can be a tricky conversation to navigate and there is still some fear of the unknown.
This means digital transformation leaders are tasked with not only changing digital strategies but altering entire opinions around these efforts. And doing so quickly.
I firmly believe that a successful implementation of digital transformation starts with strategy and ends with the successful adoption of technology. But in order to follow this model for change, there are a few steps businesses should follow.
When environments can be viewed as unpredictable, people can become easily overwhelmed by additional change, so it’s important to avoid overloading anyone with information.
Start by talking to a select group of employees to get a hands-on view of the business processes and the technology currently in place. Those implementing digital transformation are not always the same people who will be using the technology on a day-to-day basis.
Therefore, it’s necessary to speak directly to the business units and departments that may be impacted in order to fully understand their current challenges.
Be sure to also collect necessary data along the way, including insights from customers or employee relations, as this will be necessary to successfully build out a new strategy.
Companies should also consider going directly to customers to gauge how they’re feeling and where they would like to see improvement, as success is impossible without happy clients.
It will also become important for companies to speak to their current technology providers to see if they’ll be able to enhance any current systems and processes.
Just like in life, everyone is at different phases and levels of maturity, and the same goes for digital transformation journeys. With that being said, there is nothing wrong in benefiting from a supplier’s technology maturity. This will help make sure the business is getting the most out of current investments.
Creating an “insight driven” digital transformation program will help future proof organizations. It’s important to first review the entire business in order to fully grasp “who” the company is today and how it has changed over time or under the current circumstances.
Once companies understand this, they’ll be in a better position to reshape business architectures in a way that best aligns with business goals.
For marketers, for instance, these goals could be anything from increasing personalization and empathy through AI to offloading easily automated tasks to allow people to focus on more creative and value-added projects.
Whatever the objective may be, it’s critical that businesses first lay out the strategies needed to get to desired results, before applying any technology. This will help ensure that the implemented transformations maximize efficiency so the company can see greater, more beneficial, results.
As mentioned, the final step of a digital transformation strategy should be the actual technology implementation.
When companies allow the technology to drive their digital strategies, they end up losing sight of their business goals and focusing on the latest “trends” and “innovations” without fully understanding how these advancements will improve their business, if at all.
By following the above steps and instead assessing the current people and processes already in place and creating a strategy based on these gathered insights, companies are able to better choose the technologies that will align with their business goals and objectives.
Going back to the previous marketing example, if a company is getting ready to kick off a new media planning campaign, and working with multiple vendors across different channels, the many regulations and guidelines can have an impact on the ability to deliver content in a timely manner.
Applying automation can provide consistency across a variety of processes, including sales agreements and various contracts, that would otherwise require hours of manual efforts to update and comb through.
Digital transformation can not only cut back on general frustrations but help build customer relationships by streamlining reporting and data management processes as well.
If the objective is to better understand consumers and connect with them on a seemingly more personal level, then new technology like AI can help efficiently collect information and identify new trends, while also automating simple tasks that typically take hours of manual labor (think direct mail creation).
The current environment has made digital transformation a make-or-break initiative that will affect all aspects of planning, production and internal processes.
In reviewing the current business and understanding the processes and technology that were already in place, organizations can better identify where digital transformation is needed the most before applying the technology itself.
When companies build a digital transformation model centered on strategy first, rather than technology, they can truly increase their chances of acceleration and success.
As Digital Transformation Officer at Conga, Aishling Finnegan focuses on taking real world problems and applying technical solutions to them. Her background is in identifying and removing operational roadblocks, aiding corporate growth, and increasing profitability.
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