Digital Transformation 101: Your Questions Answered
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
It’s no secret that vast global changes are quickly altering the way people live and work—requiring businesses to rethink their teams, processes, and technologies to stay competitive. If your business isn’t already transforming digitally, now is the time!
To help get you thinking about your digital transformation strategy, what follows is a portion of an interview Ad Victoriam conducted in a recent “Salesforce Simplified” podcast with David Panitch, President, Results Technology Group.
What is the current landscape of digital transformation in 2021, and why it is evolving so rapidly?
“Digital transformation is evolving rapidly today due to the pandemic. Organizations that had been doing well with their current processes and systems are now seeing why migrating to the cloud, implementing an e-commerce system and leveraging other digital transformation opportunities have value. COVID-19’s impact on business goals increased the velocity and the need for digital transformation.
Digital transformation also has a very long tail because it opens up virtual doors that it didn’t before. Companies without an e-commerce platform are being outpaced by their competitors.”
- The COVID-19 pandemic
- Increased understanding of system migration to the cloud opens valuable virtual doors
- Organizations without an e-commerce solution are being outpaced by competition
What should companies consider while creating a digital transformation strategy?
“We always recommend just being observant, look around. Consider internal and external processes that you’ve been doing for a long time, and ask yourself ‘why’ and ‘can we do this more efficiently?’
“Internally people are looking at ways to continue to reduce their paperwork and the movement of paper. They are also considering their manual approval processes and figuring out how to automate those or at least get them into the hands of people to make faster, more thought-provoking decisions. And it also breaks down internally some of the silos of information between departments. So, it’s really looking at how to break down some of these silos.
“And then when you think about external, listen to the customer to identify where their needs are shifting, figuring out how you ‘touch’ them where they’re going to be. Similar to a great quarterback finding a receiver that’s running a route and he certainly doesn’t pass the ball to where the receiver was, he passes it to where the receiver is going to be. And I think that same philosophy can be used with your customers in understanding where it looks like they’re going to be and to meet them there.
“And then lastly, and Uber is probably a great example of this, how do you make the interactions with you more frictionless? So back in the day, we used to get into a cab after we hailed it down and maybe three passed us by. We finally got in and we got to our destination and the cab driver said, ‘Well, I don’t take credit cards.’ So you reached into your pocket and you figured out that you had enough cash on you. But with Uber, you summon a car, you get in, you get out and you’re done. So it’s those types of philosophies and thoughts that we’re encouraging our customers to really think about as they look at where their customers are going.”
- Think about both internal and external processes that could be more efficient.
- Consider which manual processes can be automated.
- Where do you need to better share information, increase department collaboration. Between sales and marketing, purchasing and shipping, etc.
- Externally, customer needs are shifting. Meet your customers where they are going to be, not just where they are.
- Decrease your customers’ friction during their journey. Make it easier for them to buy your products and services.
How do you know that your company needs a digital transformation?
“You’ll know that you’re ready because you’ve been struggling with growth or you’ve been handcuffed with some manual processes that are just the only way to get them done faster is by putting more people to them. Begin by considering the number of manual processes that you have, unmet customer requests, if you’re experiencing market slippage, or if there’s evidence that profitability is compressing. These are all signs that you are ready for some level of digital transformation.”
May be time for digital transformation if you’re:
- Struggling with growth
- Have many manual processes that is affecting productivity and profitability
- Not meeting customer needs
- Losing market share
How should a company start its digital transformation journey?
“As with other major initiatives, you need to get leadership onboard – you need endorsement and support for the direction that you want to head. Best to find a project that is aligned very closely to your organizational goals and objectives – one that requires some level of digital transformation. It’s those types of projects that typically get some traction and get leadership’s buy-in.
“Then identify the desired outcomes so you know where you’ll land at the end of this project, the expected ROI, and how to get a lower resistance to change. This will help create a smooth path for the project. Most importantly, you need a detailed project plan so you understand the path that you’re on.
“The next, and equally important, get key change agents onboard. This is almost always the hardest piece because it’s typically your A-players. You need the people that really embrace change and can help evangelize that change to the rest of the organization – marketing internally. Let people know what we are doing, why are we doing it, and what we are going to look like when we get to our destination. And if you put all those pieces together, you are highly likely to have a successful outcome when it comes to that digital transformation.”
- Get leadership on board.
- Propose digital transformation based on a project that aligns with your goals.
- Create a project plan to understand what path you are on.
- Get your A-players onboard to help evangelize the change internally.
What do digital transformation projects look like (technology, processes, duration, team effort, all those elements)?
“The project duration can vary widely. We suggest focusing on some impactful short-term wins to help propel the overall project success and move it forward.
“Potential projects to undertake are ones that have been around for awhile. For example, how do we go more paperless? So, are there scanning opportunities? Are there data storage opportunities that you can take advantage of that will allow you to reduce the amount of paper that is ingested and stored and tracked within your organization?
“E-commerce is another significant digital transformation opportunity. There are opportunities for organizations that either haven’t embarked fully on e-commerce or even the ones that have. Ease of use is really top of mind when it comes to e-commerce. How do people find what they need quickly and easily? And, can that consummate that purchase and be satisfied with what they are getting?
“The customer self-service portals and even vendor portals to help people collaborate more frequently and more effectively, and artificial intelligence are other important areas to consider.
“As far as a team goes, you’ve got to have A players. There’s a book recommendation to assist by Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. And it really spells out how to build a team and decrease dysfunctions relating to accountability, trust, healthy conflict and problem solving, commitment to the project and being results oriented. Those are all great characteristics and elements of a team that will help you move things forward. And you can always go back on those foundational blocks when the project might go awry and be able to bring back to why we are here, what we have agreed to and get people moving forward.”
- Focus on short-term wins to gain project momentum.
- Common projects focus around going more paperless, e-commerce implementation or enhancement, customer self-serve portal and artificial intelligence.
- Recommended book by Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, to help get your team onboard with the transformation.
How do you explain digital transformation to the leadership team to get their buy-in?
“Most projects fail when leadership either was never brought into the picture or they got really distracted with something they felt was more important. It helps to align the project with the goals and objectives of the organization with a strong ROI, or focusing on solving a problem or improving business processes that aligns with leadership goals. Make sure that you really understand what is this going to do for the organization? How is it going to help you move things forward?
“Furthermore, it’s important to express concretely the values to the organization. It cannot be said enough that you have to continue to remind people why are we doing this project? What is it that are we going to look like once we get to the potential end of that project? Leadership is looking for projects that have strong ROI, have other benefits that may be not as tangible such as efficiencies that get improved upon.
“And especially again, we’ve had some challenging times of late and this goes without saying when things are good a lot of times people don’t do the things that they should be doing to become more efficient because things are fine. When things get a little bit rougher that’s when people pay attention. Sometimes that’s too late. I think we’re at a point right now where the economy is in a decent place, certainly some market segments are struggling more than others, but this gives us a great opportunity to really move projects forward and get leadership’s attention on projects that are important to the life and wellbeing of the organization.”
- Align the project with the organizations’ goals and objectives, with a strong ROI.
- Focus on solving a problem or improving business processes that align with leadership’s goals.
- Express the value of digital transformation to the organization.
- Don’t wait until there is a major turn in your growth to digitally transform.
Reach David Panitch via the Results Technology Group’s website.
Download the Roadmap to Digital Transformation eBook.