Summary: Digital transformation is an urgent priority for businesses in 2020. But, while many are adopting digital tools as a result of the pandemic, digital transformation is much more than that. In this article, we explore that topic in more detial and explain a few benefits that digital transformation can offer to your business.
I saw an interesting Twitter survey a couple of months back. It went something like this:
“Who is driving digital transformation?”
- The 2020 pandemic
Can you guess which option won?
Obviously, it was meant as a joke but makes an important point. Many business leaders came into 2020 with digital transformation still on their to-do lists. Sure, they were working on digital transformation…but, at their own pace.
Then, the pandemic hit. Digital transformation quickly went from a “nice to have” to a necessity. Many businesses scrambled to adapt to a remote work environment. Others rushed to set up e-Commerce sites so they could continue selling products.
The problem: Many businesses are just “plugging the leaks” so to speak. They’re addressing the digital issues needed to survive, but aren’t completing a total digital transformation. They’re left with a patchwork of analog and digital tools/processes that don’t quite work together.
Now, I get it. This has been a strange and difficult year. Many businesses have no choice but to go into survival mode and only implement the digital tools they need to survive.
My message to you: Once things get more stable, don’t stop. Keep the digital transformation moving.
Why is this so important?
Not only will it better prepare you for other unforeseen challenges, a total digital transformation delivers all types of advantages. In this article, we’ll explore some of the biggest benefits of digital transformation.
1. Improved efficiency
Let me ask you a question: What slows your business down? What roadblocks exist in your current processes that harm efficiency?
For some, it’s manual data entry. Their systems don’t communicate with each other, so they must manually enter data into different areas.
For others, it’s a process bottleneck. One process goes through a single department, and creates a bottleneck. For instance, reporting still goes through the IT department in many businesses, creating delays.
I could go on, as there are any number of areas that could slow a business down. The good news: Digital transformation eliminates many of these bottlenecks. When you replace legacy processes with automated workflows, and truly examine your current processes, you reduce friction in your business.
“One of the most tangible benefits you will notice from digital transformation is efficiency across the areas and processes that have been transformed,” says Prashant Sugand, Director & Principal Consultant at Layertech. “Some processes which require human intervention and/or that are standardized can be automated. As a result, this would provide several benefits such as a) the element of human intervention can be completely eliminated and b) the process can be completed much faster (Most likely in a few seconds).”
2. Improved decision making
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a data explosion. As a business, you have access to more data than ever before, and data volumes are only increasing.
However, very few businesses actually capitalize on this data. Many lack the tools and processes needed to turn it into meaningful management information.
This is where a digitally-driven company has the upper hand. Using modern BI tools, they can take this flow of data and gain insights immediately. This lets them react far faster (and more accurately) than businesses who lack these capabilities.
“Having connected systems means you can follow behavior,” says Aaron Suzuki, CEO of SmartDeploy. “You can measure everything now: customer activity, inventory, productivity of employees, and much more. This can be analyzed with tools that yield actionable insight. You might realize you are spending heavily on tactics that do not produce results. Or that the results are coming from a secondary source and that’s where you can focus investment for better results. The tangible result is more effective deployment of resources – whether it is your people, your cash, your inventory, your maintenance efforts, your growth strategy or otherwise.”
3. Improved agility
COVID-19 gave the business world a surprise agility test. Many were left scrambling. They didn’t have the tools/processes in place to adapt quickly.
For other businesses, the move to remote work was relatively seamless. They already had the digital tools and processes needed to work from anywhere. Or, they had the no-code/low-code tools to create the necessary web applications on the fly. Here’s one such example of a company who adapted quickly thanks to digital transformation.
“In my last company, we executed a digital transformation across 25,000 users in 36 states by digitizing how we recorded service delivery,” says Jeffrey Cohen, Digital Leader. “We implemented a platform that allows automation of what were previously manual processes. We had all sorts of benefits we imagined during the business case – higher quality and improved utilization being the two most significant. In the end, however, the actual benefit was in flexibility to quickly adjust to adverse challenges. When Covid-19 hit and required new procedures, the digital transformation we had implemented allowed the team to adjust to the new reality within weeks.”
In my opinion, agility is one of the most important benefit of digital transformation. The ability to adapt to changes on the fly or deliver needed solutions in a matter of days is a huge competitive advantage.
4. Improved customer satisfaction
With the rise of mobile and technology advancements, we’ve seen customer expectations change. The modern customer expects simplicity.
What happens if you can’t provide the simplicity they expect? What happens if you make them jump through hoops? Or what happens when you provide an outdated experience? They’ll likely move on.
Improving the customer experience is one of the big goals of digital transformation. The great part: When done correctly, you’ll see improvements in two different areas.
Digital transformation improves the customer experience
Offering digital tools to your customers will make their lives easier. It makes your business more attractive to potential customers. But, most importantly, it keeps you relevant. Businesses that offer a clunky, outdated experience will have trouble competing with those that stay up to date with modern technology.
“Technological change is moving faster than ever before,” says Tory Gray – CEO & Digital Marketing Strategist at The Gray Dot Company. “As more digital technologies continue to emerge, it’s crucial that businesses adopt new ways to deliver value to their customers. Businesses need to participate in digital transformation to improve their customer experience — or they risk getting left behind.”
Digital transformation provides more customer insight
Do you notice how some companies these days seem to know what you want before you ask them? Or, their products are created in such a way that it seems like they’re reading your mind? It’s not magic, it’s analytics. These companies are taking advantage of digital technologies to better understand their prospects and customers. They’re gathering insights from customer interactions and using that data to constantly improve.
“Digital transformation allows us to improve the customer experience in increasingly efficient ways,” explains Gray. “We can use data-driven insights gained from digital marketing to better understand our customers. Going digital allows us to track and analyze data that is instrumental to our success. The data can allow us to make hyper-specific targeted campaigns that attract customers and maximize our conversions.”
5. Improved profitability
Finally, what happens when you work more efficiently, make better decisions, increase agility, and improve your customer’s perception of your business? How will that impact your bottom line?
The fact is, digital transformation will transform your entire business. As explained below, when done correctly, it will significantly improve your overall profitability.
“The primary goal of digital transformation is to improve your customer and client experiences, ultimately resulting in more revenue,” says Jeremy Wirtz, Senior Technical Engineer and IT Consultant at Guardian Computer. “According to Forbes, 56% of CEOs reported a direct increase in annual revenue thanks to their company’s successful digital transformation. By integrating new technology systems and infrastructure to improve your business operations and gain better data insights, you will also be improving your customers’ experience with your company and expanding your audience along the way.”
While the list could certainly be longer, these are just 5 benefits of digital transformation. Would you add anything to this list? If you would like to add anything to this list, I’d love to hear it. Feel free to share in the comments.