Digital transformation is now so frequently discussed in business circles that it can seem like something of a buzzword. However, it truly is one of the most vital imperatives for any organisation today, in order to be efficient, innovative and competitive. But what do we actually mean by digital transformation?
Digital computers have been a mainstay of most businesses for decades, and the majority of business information is now digitised as files, databases, emails and so on. In recent years, the term ‘digital’ has come to refer more generally to technology-enabled business activities –particularly over the internet. Businesses began to refer to ‘digital marketing’ (via websites and email) and ‘digital sales’ (or e-commerce).
But despite these digital developments, most everyday business processes have stayed largely manual. To do their jobs, employees send and receive emails, write reports, update spreadsheets, and perform other manual tasks.
This is where the ‘transformation’ comes in. Digital transformation (sometimes called digitalisation) is about changing actual business processes themselves – to harness the full potential of digital technology.
While it may start with a single business process, digital transformation encompasses the integration of digital technology into all areas of your organisation. This will fundamentally change your business operations and how you deliver value to customers.
On a higher level, digital transformation is about driving a cultural change in your organisation – where you constantly challenge the way things are, experiment with new ways of working – and learn valuable insights from your setbacks and successes.
Any organisation’s journey of digital transformation will be an ongoing process, in which multiple digital projects interweave and interact. In this way, digital transformation becomes an integral aspect of the organisation, helping it build competitive advantage and meet customer needs more effectively.
As the demands and expectations on organisations become ever greater, ensuring successful execution and positive outcomes for these digital projects becomes more critical. Digital projects are not merely a path to greater efficiency, but vital to the continued success of the business.
The approach and attitudes that organisations bring to their digital projects must now become central to their overall strategy.
In many organisations, improving the experience of employees and/or customers forms a key goal of digital transformation. While companies will have their own sector or situation-specific digital goals, all organisations should consider how the needs of employees and customers can be taken into account when planning digital projects.
In order to deliver digital transformation successfully, organisations must be honest with themselves when it comes to their capability to plan and run a digital project end-to-end. If they cannot identify their limitations, and take action to strengthen these areas, they risk falling behind their competitors.
Watch our webinar on becoming Digital: Rising to the challenges of digital transformation.