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Quick Guide to Digital Transformation

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Recent events have highlighted that things can change rapidly overnight. To survive, businesses have had to quickly adapt and find new ways to work. This explains why, according to the IDC Worldwide Digital Transformation Spending Guide, the path to digital transformation (DX) has continued solidly - right through the recent pandemic.

In a bid to stay competitive, companies all over the world are investing in ambitious digital projects - with varying degrees of success. The term ‘digital transformation’ is now a much-touted phrase - but what exactly does it involve?

Digital transformation is:

“Any strategic initiative that applies data science and marketing technology to solve fundamental problems”. (sitecore)

Digital transformation aims to reinvent ways to put the customer first, by taking advantage of digital software and systems to create seamless experiences for them.

The path to digital transformation

The road to digital transformation looks different for every company. There are, however, common factors to ensure a company succeeds in becoming digital led.

Here are some ways to ensure a smooth transition to digital success:

1. Communicate a vision of digital transformation

Digital transformation requires rigorous planning. It also requires buy-in from all stakeholders, including top management. Everyone needs to see that investment in digital will give measured ROI.

Executive buy-in ensures decisions can be made quickly, and if leadership takes a proactive role in digital transformation they can manage expectations and share them, company-wide.

2. Secure investment

The saying ‘you get what you pay for’ holds true for digital transformation. It is only those companies that commit to the required investment that achieve successful digital transformation. While investment may lower profits in the short term, lack of investment can only pose a serious risk to longer-term profits.

To build a business robust enough to compete in the future, companies will need to find a way to fund:

  • New technologies.
  • New expertise - hiring new people, training or buying in consultancy services.
  • Potential partnerships or joint ventures.
  • In-house innovation.

3. Promote a digital-first culture

The right culture is key to getting a digital transformation off the ground and staff education should be a primary focus. It’s essential that every employee understands what’s happening and why. Without transparency, it’s difficult to get teams behind digital projects.

Rather than making decisions based on what competitors are doing, make the starting point creating value for your specific customers. Start making changes by testing out marketing messages to find out what’s working and what’s not. This will help keep staff invested in the process.

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4. Fill knowledge gaps

Skills and systems will need to be updated during digital transformation. Companies need to attract people with the requisite digital competencies to help drive the process. However, it’s impossible to hire a lot of new digitally skilled staff all at once, so success will depend on helping existing staff acquire or develop new skills around technologies, processes and operating systems.

All staff, not just the IT department, need to be educated and updated on new methodologies as well as understanding the strategic value of digital operations.

5. Focus on personalisation

Personalisation is behind the new digital experiences of customers and it’s this that will successfully drive digital transformation. Each company needs to decide how to implement personalisation within its marketing strategy.

6. Create engaging content

A consistent stream of high-quality content is the cornerstone of a memorable customer experience. Marketing automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are useful to some extent - especially around content strategy and implementation - but the content itself requires human intelligence and creativity.

7. Set clear targets

Poor communication sounds a death knell to even the strongest of strategies and this includes digital transformation. Companies must identify and circulate concrete information around key targets and milestones to aim for and provide stakeholders with a clear road map of where the company intends to go. Every aspect of the journey needs to be detailed by regularly sharing data around:

  • Cost savings.
  • Revenues
  • Improved performance.
  • Customer and employee satisfaction.

Targets can be set around the percentage of processes to be automated, the percentage of transactions that are to be migrated from one channel to another, the level of personalisation that will be achieved and the number of campaigns that will run every quarter.

Digital transformation offers incredible opportunities for organizations to improve customer service, optimise internal processes and innovate their way to a sustainable future. However, it’s often easier said than done. According to McKinsey over half of all UK projects fail to realize their desired objectives.

Digital transformation is imperative for companies of all sizes from startup to enterprise. It’s about far more than simply moving to the cloud - it requires specific steps and a new framework of working. For this reason, many companies seek the advice of external consultants, to help them overcome the many challenges that arise on the path to transformation from vision to execution.

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