If you peruse business management literature, you’ll find no shortage of conversation about Digital Transformation. Yet for all the hype, there is little specificity about what it means to be digitally transformed. So, for many of us, it’s easy to conclude that if everyone is talking about it, and we can’t clearly define it for ourselves, then we must really be behind in implementing this leading-edge business competency.
Our doubts about being digitally transformed are exacerbated because it is often portrayed as a massive, far-reaching, all-encompassing business capability. Yet, digital transformation really does not happen overnight with a single “bang”. Rather it starts with a commitment to fundamentally shift how a business thinks about its people, processes, and technology. It’s most successful when it starts in a focused way and then expands.
Digital transformation is not a singular solution but rather an evolution of how an enterprise gathers, processes, and uses data for decision-making. Digital transformation influences how a firm improves its customer experience, how it achieves higher levels of operational efficiency, and ultimately how it manages its business performance.
Digital transformation might start with an in-depth look at customer analytics. For example, a business might examine customer complaint data to assess common themes and then correlate those themes with customer profiles. This comprehensive root cause analysis enables development of targeted solutions for specific customer groups. The analysis might identify a more effective way to shift a customer from manual to mechanized (or digital) problem resolution. It might also determine an effective digital channel option for improved customer experience. And ultimately it might guide product innovation, creating new solutions directed at well-defined, target markets. All this is based on data-driven or digital analytics.
Alternately, a digital transformation initiative might start by examining sales and marketing results to improve insights and drive higher returns on these investments. Quantifying how clients approach your business through the various sales channels can give you fact-based information to dramatically refocus your marketing tactics, improve your sales outcomes, and reduce sales costs. For example, digital analytics can help you understand your most effective sales channels and then prioritize actions to strengthen those channels. How often is the direct sales team the first encounter with your firm? When do prospects find you through online search engines? Are they attracted by your presence on LinkedIn or Twitter? What do prospects find most compelling about your blogs? How often do they open your marketing emails? What content on your website is of most interest? And ultimately, when does this interest culminate in a sale? Do these outcomes vary by industry, by new or repeat client, by type of solution? Answers to these questions and the resulting solutions can all be driven from digital transformation capabilities.
If your organization is using spreadsheets today, it’s a relatively straightforward transition to start utilizing data visualization tools such as Tableau and Power BI. These tools provide dynamic, multi-dimensional data analytics that produce more comprehensive insights—allowing you to “see the forest for the trees”. They can handle very large amounts of data, pulled from multiple sources and provide a nice entry point for more advanced data analytics. Resources that have some knowledge of SQL, Python, and R can help you manipulate, aggregate, and prepare data for these data visualization tools.
Organizations with high volume data, generated from a variety of sources at high-velocity may benefit from migrating to a cloud-based infrastructure, which allows for expansion and provides access to cloud-based analytical tools. Another step in the digital transformation journey.
Virtual collaboration is also a component of digital transformation. During this shelter-in-place time, firms are realizing their readiness for widespread working from home. Tools like Microsoft Teams provide for video meetings, facilitate remote document collaboration, and enable data security measures – keeping colleagues digitally connected.
This approach and these examples are meant to help you gauge where your business is on its digital transformation journey. Define a business issue that warrants a comprehensive data deep dive. Start with some data analytics infrastructure. Generate that analysis to provide fact-based diagnosis and to create solutions. Use digital collaboration tools to gather the team into a virtual conference room to concur on implementation next steps.
You can launch your business into the digitally transformed age by compiling some tools and expertise that allow you to look at data more comprehensively and commit to decision-making based on those analytics. Digital transformation is not a singular solution that happens overnight. It is an enabler to improving business performance, using data to drive decision-making.