Technology and businesses constantly reinvent themselves with time. Technological revolutions have driven disruptions in industries and economies across the world. Only those businesses that were quick enough to adapt to these changes or new opportunities have succeeded in the long run. Others who were skeptical and ignorant to these rapid technological changes have become irrelevant and redundant.
Undoubtedly, everyone is talking about digital transformation now. But what exactly is it all about? It is the collective effort and the extensive set of processes involved in facilitating businesses fully adapt to the latest technological advances in their respective industries and elsewhere. Its benefits include capabilities to become more innovative, streamlined, transparent, accountable, efficient, profitable, et al.
Technology and Culture goes hand-in-hand
You may ask if digital transformation is business automation: well, the answer would be both a yes and a no. Yes, because many works done manually can be automatized. No, because this isn’t about technology alone. What I mean is that this involves a substantial change in mindset too.
Apart from the technical side of this transformation, it is important that companies cultivate a new, enhanced culture within an organization in order for it to facilitate a smooth digital transformation of its operations. Otherwise, businesses are likely to face the challenge of resistance and aversion from their workforce.
Changing the fundamentals of business operations
Traditionally, business departments like marketing, human resources, administration, customer service and so on work independently, and as a consequence, there is a lack of transparency and collaboration between them.
With the advent of digital transformation, all these business processes have become seamlessly integrated. This facilitates a more effortless correlation and coherent workflow between all the processes.
Consider an example of a restaurant business. Prior to the digital transformation of this business, the waiter has to take the order from the customer, walk up to the kitchen and then inform the cooks. To know whether a food item was available or not at the moment, he had to contact the cooks. There was no other way.
The waiter comes and serves the food to the customer when the food is ready. He then walks up to the cash counter to give the order details and get the bill printed. All of this required a lot of manual work and consumed time.
As the business gets digitally transformed, all these activities become hassle-free. The order can be entered on a tablet computer, which instantly displays whether the food is available or not. The placed order will be sent to the cook and also to the other departments digitally. When the customer is done dining, the waiter presses the button to print the bill, thus making the business more efficient and streamlined.
How to start with digital transformation?
Can a single set of techniques help all businesses to transform digitally? Well, this is not possible. The digital transformation of a business depends upon the type and scale of the business, its location, and numerous other factors.
Although digital transformation varies widely based on organizations’ specific challenges and demands, there are few frameworks that business and technology leaders should consider as they embrace digital transformation.
Business process audit
So what is the first step towards digital transformation? It starts with a business process audit – identifying various business processes like- Sales & Marketing, Accounting & Technology, Quality & Product/Service Delivery, Management, HR & Finance, Product Development, and others.
Then all the possible functions involved in these processes are listed out after a thorough study. The work flow inter-dependencies between these multiple work processes are then sorted out. A graphical representation of the sequence of all these functions is then depicted as a flowchart.
This deals with the identification and listing out of the digital initiatives that was already carried out in all business departments to understand the current status of the digital transformation adopted by the company.
The hurdles involved in the further progress of this transformation that obstructs the company’s quest for transparency, accountability & efficiency is identified and sorted out.
All companies would have made some sort of digital initiatives; For instance, in the HR department of a business, the employee attendance register would have been replaced by a biometric fingerprint attendance machine. Similarly other departments might have made other technological advancements. The purpose of digital audit is to unify all these digital transformations into a single entity.
Need for a Specialist
Can companies manage to transform their business operations digitally all by themselves? Well, this is an important decision.
You must keep in mind that digital transformation can be tricky and should be planned out and approached carefully and strategically. Companies can promote a tech savvy employee, well versed with all the business processes and their workflow, as their digital transformation leader. If this leader can provide expert guidance and lead the company in actualizing digital transformation, it’s a great advantage.
If he is not capable enough to manage this by himself, a specialist from a digital transformation agency can be hired. This advisor can help explore or discover key issues, pain points, new opportunities and challenges that you’re facing in transforming and growing your business.
The digital transformation leader of the company must work conjointly with this specialist to ensure a more organised and effective digital transformation of the company’s business.
To conclude, there is no doubt that digital transformation is the next step for businesses to stay competitive and follow the right path towards the future. And it’s time that every businesses create a new job designation called Digital Transformation Specialist or hire an external expert to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
( Image courtesy: Siofra Pratt)