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Why and How Should I Go Digital With My Business?

Adopting and adapting to technology and digital culture is more than an afterthought in business today. When doing business, you have to be innovative and accept new, emerging trends to survive and stay competitive. We are currently living in a digital age and new channels of information are being created every single day. Therefore, it’s important to constantly learn about new trends that could help you.

As technology evolves, so should your business. At this point, it’s not about enterprises choosing to transform; it’s more about deciding how to transform.

In this guide we’ll cover everything – from main benefits of going digital with your business to real-world examples and case studies to learn from.

Digital transformation involves radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people and processes to fundamentally change business performance (G. Westerman)

What exactly is digital transformation?

In business, it is a fundamental change, a metamorphosis, in how companies generate value for their owners and other stakeholders, achieved by applying digital technologies and ways of working to all aspects of the business. We can also say it is the process of integrating digital technologies into all aspects of a business to meet the market and changing business requirements.

According to George Westerman, author of Leading Digital: Turning Technology Into Business Transformation, digital transformation involves a “radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people and processes to fundamentally change business performance”.

MIT Sloan Management Review highlights three key areas of digital transformation for enterprises:

  • Customer Experience — working to understand customers in more detail, using technology to fuel customer growth, and creating more customer touchpoints for interaction and analysis

  • Operational Processes — improving internal processes by leveraging digitization and automation, enabling employees with digital tools, and collecting data to monitor performance and make more strategic business decisions

  • Business Models — transforming the business by augmenting physical offerings with digital tools and services, introducing digital products, and using technology to provide global shared services

Why should I start integrating technology into business processes?

Digitizing your business delivers multiple benefits such as higher business competitiveness, increased customer satisfaction, reduced operational costs, new revenue channels, increased security, improved productivity and efficiency, better presence in front of customers, etc. As you can see, by integrating technology and embracing digital culture, you can enter a whole new world with a sea of new opportunities. There is also a plethora of real-world examples and case studies that prove going all-digital can benefit you if it’s done the right way. You can find a few of these great examples further in the article.

According to Mckinsey & Company, digital transformation and a focus on customer experience can generate a 20-30% increase in customer satisfaction and economic gains of 20-50%. Imagine it, with the right strategy set up you could soon be growing all aspects of your business. That’s exactly why according to Tech Pro Research, 70% of companies either have a digital transformation strategy in place or are working on one. If you are still in the other 30% then it’s time for you to start thinking about it. Also, read some of the case studies from the list below to encourage your thoughts further:

Digital Transformation Case Studies

Industry Case Study Results
Electricity (Schneider Electric) Using cloud-based solutions to meet the document sharing requirements of employees without compromising on centralized access or enterprise security standards. Schneider has been able to offload its on-premise file servers, cutting costs by 30%. Increased time-to-market by decreasing cycle times in sales, vendor order management, legal processes, employee records management, and supply chain use cases.
Banking (BBVA) Providing enhanced customer experience with the help of knowledge-driven personalization and clear communication. Active digital customers grew from 5 million in December 2011 to more than 13.3 million in mid-2015.
Agriculture (Monsanto) Using hardware and software intelligence to analyze weather patterns based on data collected through sensors. Farmers benefit from better yields, lower risks, and higher profitability.
FMCG (Unilever) Building a platform and analytics infrastructure to connect directly with consumers. Launched 10 new brands in 2018. Each launch was 40%*50% quicker than traditional methods.
Healthcare (Hospitals) Providing a complete, centralized platform to track a health system’s equipment across all facilities. Each hospital is saving between $1 – 2 million in the earliest stages, and that total multiplies the longer a hospital uses the system.
Retail (Thomas Pink) Virtual fitting rooms collect customer data and use it to match shoppers to garments that are right for them. 29.6% higher conversion rate.
70% of companies either have a digital transformation strategy in place or are working on one (Tech Pro Research)

As you can see in the examples above, every case study was tracked, measured, and analyzed to provide key insights if the strategy succeeded or not. That’s another great benefit of going digital. When you have the ability to track metrics and analyze the data you can even more optimize strategies and processes for better results. The importance of data in decision-making should not be underestimated because it can only put you on a road to a higher ROI.

How do I start transforming my business?

Two questions top every CEO’s digital agenda should be:

  • What does the company of the future look like?

  • How do we get there?

Observe your Company's Ecosystem

A lot of companies don’t know where and how exactly to start. The best approach is to take your time, go into a bird’s perspective over your business and watch it from a high level. Observe what is happening in every corner of your company. 

Another approach that could help you in deciding what to analyze the most is based on a Pareto principle. Also known as the “80-20 rule”, it asserts that 80% of outcomes result from 20% of all causes for any given event. In business, a goal of the 80-20 rule is to identify inputs that are potentially the most productive and make them the priority. For instance, 80% of your revenue may be coming from 20% of your customers. That’s a clear hint what should be prioritized first in your observation and analysis.

Your vision will over time get clearer and you’ll encounter some bottlenecks and unnecessary costs. Create a list of your company’s processes that are repetitive, time-consuming, and costly. If there is a possibility, measure them, and analyze them further. Look at everything and ask yourself “can we automate that?” or “how can we improve that?”

Create Digital Culture

You want to build an automation culture in your workplace, across your entire team. The main goal is that everyone embraces changes and is educated about it. This article already gave you some insights and answers why it should be done.

Once you know the benefits of going digital, there shouldn’t be a problem explaining it to others. This mindset is all about efficiency, making the most of your resources, and maximizing results with what you have. That’s everything you want your team to be thinking about when they’re completing tasks. Talk to your team frequently and take notes while doing it. They will know first if something could be done faster and more efficiently. This kind of mindset doesn’t come automatically so make this a constant presence in the workplace. Also, reward your team for turning automation into better results.

Act and Transform your Business

Prioritize some processes over others and analyze what can benefit you the most in the long run. Then you have to create a strategy with clear transformational goals. Engage everyone, from CEO through to middle management, and go into action with an agile governance mindset.

Try new software, automation tools, educate yourself and your team further about the best practices and processes, and integrate them into your business. Don’t forget to monitor the progress toward defined outcomes so you could optimize your strategy even more. Some common ideas for transforming your business are:

  • Upgrade your underlying technology (renovating or replacing legacy systems)

  • Shift the way you serve your customers (increasingly via mobile or across multiple different channels) - the goal should be to deliver the world-class customer service

  • Automate your processes for greater efficiency

  • Integrate with third parties to deliver better customer experiences

Should I build a better digital presence?

An important step for going all-digital is having a place where your potential and current customers can educate themselves about your company’s products and/or services. For your brand to become known in the digital world, it needs to have some sort of digital presence. It can be through a landing page, a full-time blogging site, or just social media channels. The more channels you manage to put up and running, the better for your business. But you have to be careful because it’s important to remain active on every channel you use. Otherwise, your customers could be thinking you are not consistent and are failing to execute your own expectations. That is not the best strategy for staying trustworthy in their eyes.

Shift the way you serve your customers (increasingly via mobile or across multiple different channels) - the goal should be to deliver the world-class customer service.

Build a website

We recommend you to build a website containing all the necessary info about your company. It should have statements such as your mission, goals and values, as well as your references, testimonials, case studies etc. It should communicate a clear message from you to the world. We wrote an article about key components and differences between website and web application that you can find here. You should also employ the appropriate content strategy using your digital channels. In 2020s, this will be one of the most profitable lead generation and sales strategies.

Create a Digital Marketing Strategy

A blog is a perfect way to interact with your customers and bring them added value to your initial business proposition. It’s also a way to educate them with your expertise. We think highly of every blog that steps in to take an educator role in helping customers and users navigate their affairs. To achieve maximum efficiency with blogging, always do keyword research and learn about best SEO strategies. It can literally bring you customers to your door.

A powerful marketing strategy for businesses with a slightly higher budget is creating and running ad campaigns. If done in a smart and creative way it can help you generate more leads and boost sales. Secondly, it is also good for increasing a brand awareness for your emerging digital business.

If I encountered a process that could be transformed, what should I do next?

This is one of the questions that way too often stays for too long in a drawer. It’s great that you encountered a problem but now you have to solve it. There are often many ways you can solve a particular problem, same is with transforming your particular business process or routine into a more optimized and measurable one.

Up to 93% of companies agree that innovative technologies are necessary to reach their digital transformation goals according to the Forrester survey.

Find a problem

Let’s say for example you are the CEO of a retail company. Your team is spending a lot of time and resources to manage your warehouse items, keep a track of them and categorize them. At the same time they are trying to hold the strings together with other distributors and their shipments. All being done using Excel tables or outdated offline software from the dot-com era. 

There’s no need for further explanation that this is not really efficient and surely not scalable at all. It’s the right time to analyze what’s happening, structure a concise plan for transformation, and put everything into action.

Choose a solution

Many solutions could be implemented for the mentioned problem. You could choose from a variety of options such as a tailored warehouse and inventory system for efficient control and management of your warehouse operations.

Secondly, you’ll probably need a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system for tracking your potential and existing customers and sales opportunities.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software could help you in organizing all your day-to-day business activities, risk management, supply chain operations etc.

Moreover, you could even invest in a higher tech solutions such as  automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) for performing redundant and time-consuming tasks. 

Customer service could be brought to a next level by integrating an AI powered advisory chatbot that handles the majority of customers’ questions. Therefore, sales and marketing teams could have much more time for developing more advanced sales and lead generation strategies.

Most importantly, all these systems could be inter-connected and have centralized communication. Implementing some of the above solutions not only could improve company’s productivity, but it would also be a great base for future data-driven decision making.

Mastering digitalization is about establishing an updated layer for future new tech applications for making the life of the enterprise more streamlined and introducing new quality of customer experience.

Emerging Digital Trends in 2021

Up to 93% of companies agree that innovative technologies are necessary to reach their digital transformation goals according to the Forrester survey.
Here are some digital trends you should consider when thinking about the future of your company:

  • AR/VR - 2021 and 2022 will see a "slight comeback" for smartphone-tethered VR headsets due to the rise of 5G networks.

  • Data Privacy - Trust has become a core element of brand protection due to increased consumer awareness about company practices on collecting and using personal data

  • IoT (Internet of Things) - Businesses should benefit from these two technologies when:
    - Conditions, where data should be collected, are not suitable for human measurement
    - Rapid changes and late responses to the change in the business environment can significantly harm productivity.

  • Cloud computing - Cloud technologies are now embedded in enterprises' business strategies, as 92% say their IT environment (infrastructure, applications, data analytics, etc.) relies on the cloud, predicted to grow to 95% in 18 months

  • Voice and Conversational UI - The growth of voice assistant usage and supporting hardware will inevitably be used for both marketing and operational purposes.

  • AI and Machine learning - Technology that can empower most of the technologies we listed above thanks to its capability to process data at scale. At least 90% of new enterprise apps will insert AI technology into their processes and products by 2025. (IDC)

You can read more about some of the trends in our article about top technology trends for business growth in 2021.

Conclusion

The increasing investment by businesses in digital initiatives are dictated by the customers who expect services and products delivered to be fast and efficient. This basically means the transformational steps for any business engaging technological advancements step by step, starting from paperless processing and up to heavyweight VR and blockchain. In fact, mastering digitalization is about establishing an updated layer for future new tech applications for making the life of the enterprise more streamlined and introducing new quality of customer experience. So, the question is not whether or not should you go digital with your business, but how and what steps to take as soon as possible to achieve it.

If you think you need advice about going digital with your business contact us for advice. We are experienced in creating the right digital strategy and can help you with building one for your business too. Also, our development and marketing teams are ready to get their hands dirty if you need a tailored solution that can solve your company’s headaches and improve efficiency and productivity.

From solving specific business problems by using optimization techniques and AI, to creating an all-in-one platform for optimizing your business processes, relations and managing data your company handles, we will surely implement a solution you dreamed of. Stay safe and go digital!

Erik Matošević
erik@theorionlabs.com