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What Is Digital Transformation? An Introduction

What Is Digital Transformation? An Introduction

What is digital transformation and how can businesses start the process? Read our introduction to digital transformation to learn more.

Since the onset of the pandemic, businesses all over the world have pivoted to digital with unprecedented speed. While this transition was hastened out of necessity, the convenience and flexibility that came with it has created a new set of customer expectations. 

As we head into 2022, successful businesses now know that the only way to meet these expectations is by adopting a customer-centric mindset. The best way to place customers at the centre of everything is through digital transformation.

The latest research confirms this. Eighty-eight percent of customers expect companies to accelerate digital initiatives due to the pandemic. Digital experiences are of particular interest to younger generations, with 76% prioritising convenience over brand. 

So, what exactly is digital transformation and how can businesses start the process?

Defining digital transformation

To put it simply, digital transformation is a reimagining of business for the digital age. It involves adopting digital technologies to create or modify processes across all areas of your business, whether internal or customer-facing. 

Digital transformation crosses silos and departments. It isn’t limited by the size or scope of your organisation. From larger, established brands to small businesses starting out, digital transformation can be the most effective way to future-proof your organisation. While it’s a fluid, evolving process, you can start transforming right now.

To further understand digital transformation, it’s helpful to differentiate it from similar terms. Digitisation is the conversion of data from analog to digital. Think of a physical handwritten spreadsheet becoming an Excel file. 

Digitalisation, however, is harnessing digital information in ways that simplify and streamline established ways of working. It’s not changing the way you do business as a whole, but it increases your operational efficiency. For example, point-of-sale software in the retail space, which greatly speeds up the established transaction process. 

Digital transformation not only overhauls the way business is conducted, but in some cases it creates brand new classes of business. For example, the way Netflix went from a DVD delivery service to a revolutionary digital content channel. This sparked a legion of imitators and disrupted both the video rental and film and television industries.

The many benefits of digital transformation

Digital transformation can positively impact your business on almost every level. 

On the consumer side of the equation, it gets you closer to the individual customer and their unique needs, which leads to increased satisfaction and repeat business. By the same token, it often allows customers to take a more active and autonomous role in the buying experience (such as through self-service options). 

On the employee side, digital transformation enables efficient processes; allows access to powerful systems, data and analytics; and fosters new levels of collaboration and connection. All of which are highly empowering to the working individual.

Digital transformation provides a foundation for innovation, and allows for further development as your business evolves. For example, setting up an online store, then as time goes on, adding an augmented reality showroom. 

As digital transformation is a fluid, ongoing process that can expand and morph alongside market demands, your business benefits from future-proofing. 

These are just a number of the many benefits that digital transformation will bring to your organisation. 

Is it time to start your digital transformation journey?

A number of factors can determine whether you’re ready to implement a digital transformation strategy. 

You may have sensed a recent drop-off in referrals, especially since the pandemic. Repeat business numbers may have also dipped. 

Perhaps your previous tried-and-true methods of promoting your business are no longer generating new leads. 

Internally, you might be facing an increase in complaints from employees and teams over communication and collaboration issues. Perhaps these are problems that can’t be easily resolved due to physical separation or clashing hybrid-work schedules. 

Perhaps most glaringly – your systems, whether technological or otherwise, may feel dated. Your employees may be requesting features or processes that you can’t provide … yet. 

If one or more of these factors ring true for you, it’s time to start a conversation about digital transformation.

I’m ready for the conversation. What now?

The best way to start your digital transformation journey is to get your team together and brainstorm. This brainstorm should involve a forensic audit of your processes, operations, employee and customer experiences, and existing technologies. Look for weak spots such as gaps, inefficiencies, disconnections, and difficulties. 

Once you have considered every angle, you can start creating your strategy. 

How? The answer’s coming up in the next article in this digital transformation series.

For a deeper dive into how to get started on digital transformation, read our digital transformation guide.

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