5 steps to making digital transformation a business reality

According to research conducted by North Highland, 84% of company leaders think digital innovation is important to their business today while 86% think it’s important to their future.

However only one quarter feel like they are leading their industry when it comes to digital strategy. And a recent study found that two-thirds of C-suite executives say their enterprises have a weak digital-physical strategy or no digital-physical strategy at all.

Despite the critical role of digital, many businesses are clearly still struggling with how to move forward. This is likely because there is a lack of meaningful “how to” guides that show the step-by-step process of making digital work in practice.

This is especially relevant because, unfortunately, when an organisation falls behind the digital curve, it’s often C-suite leaders who take the blame. Digital transformation is the process all companies must go through to operate effectively in today’s rapidly changing environment.

Digital transformation isn’t about the individual channel customers can use to interact with a brand. At its core, a digital organisation is simply an organisation that’s free from silos and that is eager to rise to new technological challenges.

Customers deserve a consistent brand experience in-store and online, which means there must be one version of the truth across all platforms.

Forrester Research found that companies that made customer-centric investments saw increased efficiencies from simplifying processes, breaking down silos and empowering customers.

>See also: 3 steps to futureproofing a business with digital transformation

Digital transformation is a process in which businesses make iterative changes that require a smaller investment – and produce faster results – each time.

The key steps to making digital transformation a reality for a business include assessing and aligning the organisation, mapping the customer journey, building an agile environment and removing barriers to entry.

Companies know that they need to head in this direction, but many get hung up along the way. How can they identify and overcome the barriers to becoming digital? There are five steps to follow to make digital transformation a reality at your company:

1. Assess the market

Before you can begin your digital transformation, you must start by honestly assessing where your organisation falls on the digital maturity curve. Do you have smaller, more nimble competitors eating away at your market share? Unfortunately, most companies don’t see the need for digital transformation until there’s a steady dip in net income or increasing pressure from competitors.

To spur change within your organisation, do some scenario planning. Consider how you could interact with your customers in a world without digital boundaries. Then, consider what your business could look like if you did nothing and your competitors took action to engage customers through digital.

2. Map the customer journey

Digital transformation doesn’t start with IT or marketing; it starts with the customer. The first (and perhaps most important) action you should take is to define who your customers are and where they’re engaging with you.

Once you’re confident you’re pursuing the correct customer base, you need to map the entire customer journey. Whether you’re in retail, food services or the nonprofit sector, it’s easy to get caught up in understanding the transactional points of engagement.

But don’t forget about other customer touchpoints that occur before and after the sale. These can have an equal or even greater impact on the customer experience.

3. Align your organisation

To mould your company into an agile, fully digital organisation, you need to take a top-down approach to change. This means you must have a leader with the right mindset, motivation and authority to take ownership of the entire customer experience and a team to implement digital initiatives.

Many times this calls for a chief customer officer outside the marketing and IT organisations to promote a unified approach to digital and own the customer journey.

4. Build an agile environment

Once you’ve appointed a team to implement your company’s digital initiatives, you need to examine the culture and environment of your business. If you aren’t working toward becoming an agile organisation, your company isn’t going to be able to keep up with the rapid pace of digital.

Working to become more agile isn’t all something that can be achieved overnight; it’s a cultural and philosophical change that involves focusing on your customer, having the correct frameworks to implement new initiatives quickly, and building a culture that enables innovation.

5. Remove barriers to digital transformation

People and technology are the two primary components of digital transformation, but sometimes there are other factors that prevent businesses from progressing in their quest for digital dominance.

>See also: Digital transformation is a journey of discovery: so how do you get the discovery phase off on the right foot?

The word ‘digital’ has become so ubiquitous today that it’s almost unnecessary. ‘Digital marketing’ is just marketing, and a company’s ‘digital strategy’ is inseparable from the rest of its business strategy.

Embracing new technology isn’t just a tick box exercise anymore – it’s an essential commitment that companies must make to survive and prosper in the coming years.

Digital transformation isn’t about the individual channels that customers can use to interact with a brand, and it isn’t about big data, social media or the mobile revolution.

At its core, a digital organisation is just an organisation that’s free from silos and is eager to rise to new technological challenges.

But more than anything, it’s an organisation that’s adopted a change mindset and empowered its employees to put the customer experience at the heart of everything it does.

Sourced from Alex Bombeck, Sparks Grove, and Ben Grinnell, North Highland

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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