But even after full understanding of the need for change, moving to practical steps is not easy. There is no unambiguous definition of digital transformation, and the scope of this term is quite wide. Even the longest way starts with the first step, but what exactly should be the first step for digital business transformation?
The good news is that if your company operates now, then with a high degree of confidence your business is already digital. Do your employees use mobile phones to make calls to customers or suppliers? Searching for or posting information on the Internet? Do they use messengers? Are there mobile applications for business? Are documents kept in electronic form? If any of this is true, then you don't have to start from zero.
The next, less pleasant fact is the digital transformation does not have an end. It is a permanent way of improvement, hard work, successes and failures.
Optimal digital transformation strategy for each company is unique and should take into consideration such factors as: competitive environment, company culture, technical conditions and goals and company mission. However we would like to suggest a few general steps that would be needed to launch a digital transformation in companies of any type.
1. Set priorities
In addition to the need to stay competitive and increase market share, some companies may focus on customer service by introducing new products or services. Others may switch to digital technology to optimize internal processes and free up time for their employees to perform less routine tasks. Prioritizing some goals does not mean that you will not pursue others, but it will allow you to focus all your efforts on a specific area and quickly achieve a tangible and measurable result there.
2. Create a culture of change
One of the most important elements of digital transformation is transparency. Every employee needs to understand the reasons behind this strategy. You are asking people to change, but if they don't want to, it won't happen. Willingness to change must be the part of corporate culture, including a willingness to fail, acknowledge, change, and moving ahead. Use all possible communication channels: corporate mailing lists, webinars, meetings and internal messengers to inform the client about the importance of change, share the success of projects and spread positive experiences throughout the company. Remember: the challenge of digital transformation is not so much to introduce new technologies as to change the mentality.
3. Form a team
Company needs a team who will be the engine of digital transformation. These are not only technical specialists, but also, people who understand business processes, are ready to protect changes and convince others of their needs. The job of management is to find such internal innovators, provide them with motivation and empower them to initiate change. There are various options for organizing such a team from creating a separate unit under the leadership of Chief Digital Officer to organizing digital cells (multifunctional groups) within business functions, but all of them require support to overcome the internal resistance to change. Pay special attention to the development of key skills and competencies seminars, trainings, involvement of consultants and introduction of external experience will create a basis for starting the process of change.
4. Focus on user convenience
Technology is at the heart of any digital transformation initiative, either in process robotics, machine learning or a CRM system. But practice shows if technology is difficult to use, people will not use it. Use approaches such as Design Thinking, prototyping, provide feedback and think about user needs when creating your digital products, and then employees and customers themselves will ask you to provide them with your new system as soon as possible.
5. Provide flexibility and speed
The most effective and simple way to implement major changes is to break them down into small stages and implement them consistently. This will minimize the risks, speed up the result and provide the ability to quickly adapt to changes if necessary. This approach will allow you not only to determine the path of digital transformation of the company, but also to prepare for deviations along the way. Implement Scrum, Kanban, Lean, hybrid methods, pilot launches to test ideas and any tools available that will allow you to respond quickly to changes in the world and accelerate transformation.
Without the right strategy and readiness for change, no organization can achieve goals. Successful companies live by innovation and recognize that failure is a natural part of the process, rather than watching their competitors succeed. The longest journey begins with the first step. Do it today!