Judging by the latest tech trends, digital transformation will remain one of the top priorities (and one of the main challenges) for enterprises in 2019.
Yet, many businesses still remain stagnant, despite the obvious importance of digital transformation. Namely, 22% of organizations surveyed by Forrester are either still investigating this opportunity or not planning to transform at all.
If you are one of the laggards, we have bad news for you. The chances are, you are going to be disrupted by your forward-looking competitors who are already reaping the benefits of digital transformation.
So, if you want to stay competitive in your niche, you should make digital transformation your priority (and make sure to do it right).
In this article, we will try to clear things up and explain what digital transformation means for a business and why you should care at all.
Just a couple of decades ago, most businesses used to keep all their records on paper. Later on, when computers went mainstream, they switched to spreadsheets. Right now, it’s practically impossible to find a business that doesn’t employ some sort of cloud-based SaaS product to keep track of their records (or any other business process).
But is this the real goal of digital transformation?
According to Gartner, digital business transformation stands for a “process of exploiting digital technologies […] to create a robust new digital business model”.
As follows from this digital transformation definition, the process is far more complex and important than simply converting your information and processes from an analogue format to a digital one and moving it to the cloud. Business modernization, i.e. switching from on-premises legacy systems to the cloud, represents only one aspect (although a very important one) of the digital transformation process.
Digital transformation means changing the existing business processes (or creating completely new ones) to adapt to the evolving market requirements with the help of technologies. It means rethinking everything you do, both internally and externally, by adopting new technologies to provide a better customer experience as well as streamlining your internal performance.
A good example of a digital transformation is represented by Walmart. The company started its digital journey back in 2011 and managed to turn its brick-and-mortar business into one of the largest online retailers in the US, and is now a tech powerhouse.
While high business efficiency or the ability to meet customer expectations mean a lot, they are often not enough to justify investing thousands of dollars and months of hard work into digital transformation.
To explain why digital transformation is so important, you need more hard evidence.
For example, some of the major benefits of digital transformation lie in:
1. Higher business competitiveness
Competitive pressure is the main reason for enterprise digital transformation, as cited by 70% of organizations in a recent ITProPortal survey. Furthermore, about ⅓ of those businesses believe that their competitors will take advantage of them if they fail to transform.
By adopting the tech-first approach and optimizing your business operations, you gain a competitive edge and can win a bigger market share.
2. Improved targeting and customer satisfaction
Digital businesses can make sense of customer data, sourcing valuable insights about customer needs or audience specifics, and tailor service offerings accordingly.
As a result, businesses offering a superior digital experience can expect a 15% increase in customer retention rates and 6x better customer satisfaction, based on the research done by Aberdeen Group.
3. New revenue channels
Another benefit lies in the fact that digital strategy can help businesses deliver new products and open new revenue channels. Namely, 46% of the surveyed executives believer that almost half of their revenue will come from digital channels by 2020, according to Forrester.
4. Increased organizational flexibility
Based on the NuoDB research, 68% of companies see business agility as one of the top three drivers of digital transformation.
The transition to agile processes, as a part of a digital business strategy, typically leads to more effective decision-making and overall better organizational flexibility.
5. Reduced operational costs
In 2017, Hackett Group found that digital transformation initiatives can cut an organization’s transaction costs by 40%. This is largely due to optimizing business performance and efficiency.
While the digital transformation benefits for a business are pretty obvious, there’s more to explore.
This process is much more complex than it might seem at first glance, and requires a 360-degree change in multiple spheres of a business.
Namely, there are 4 key aspects of your business that will be affected in your digital transformation process.
While digital transformation typically leads to lower operational costs, in the long run, there will be other expense items an organization should prepare for, e.g. new hires, cloud migration costs, analytics, cloud storage and hosting, integrated SaaS product subscriptions, etc.
The digital transformation process requires strong leadership and implies the introduction of new roles within the team.
Moreover, if you choose to hire a third-party digital transformation consulting agency instead of building an in-house team, you will need to set up efficient process management and collaboration between the provider and your staff on-site.
Digital businesses rely on agile processes and tend to optimize as many internal processes as possible. As a result, some roles might be replaced while the others will need to adapt to the new responsibilities.
Digital businesses are typically customer-centric and agile. This leads to a shift in product vision and overall corporate culture.
While most enterprises understand the importance of digital transformation, only around 40% of the organizations surveyed by Futurum have a dedicated team in place to handle this process.
What’s more, 7% of the respondents couldn’t even name a person in charge of their company’s digital strategy. Further 20% stated that they don’t know what to do when it comes to the actual transformation process.
Needless to say, the digital transformation process can be risky and wasteful without proper leadership, the right skills, and a solid plan in place. Sometimes it’s better to engage a professional digital transformation business partner instead of trying to tackle the challenge internally.
Namely, you should consider hiring a third-party provider in the following cases if you
- don’t have the required skills in-house and can’t source them locally
- lack the general vision and don’t know where to start
- struggling to establish strong leadership in your digital transformation initiative
- want to reduce the risks and ensure a smooth transition
As you can see, if you continue to ignore the importance of digital transformation you can soon go out of business, outpaced by the new, digital market leaders. This means you need to start your transition now (and make sure to do it right).
However, 75% of the organizations won’t be able to meet their digital goals in 2019 due to “conflicting digital transformation imperatives, ineffective technology innovation, cloud infrastructure transition, and underfunded end-of-life core systems”.
To make sure your transition is smooth and risk-free, consider hiring a professional digital transformation consulting agency, such as Eastern Peak.
Contact us to book a free consultation with one of our senior project managers and kickstart your digital transformation today.