Implementing Digital Transformation: Part 2 of 3 —Putting the Plan in Motion
In the first post of our Digital Transformation three-part series, we laid out the case for digital transformation. Specifically, the ways this transformation is a disruptive force that improves both internal operations and the customer experience. This second post follows up the “Why Digital Transformation Matters” discussion to present some implementation tips and tactics. It’s important to remember the broader context —that digital transformation represents a cultural shift, it isn’t just about making everything “digital”.
The Disruption is Stressful but Vital
People don’t like change. And digital transformations are change incarnate. Moving a paper-based sales team that’s operated the same for 15 years into an all-digital group will be met with resistance. Creating a BI platform that pulls in data from departments that are unwilling to share their insights will be a challenge.
In either case firms have to forge ahead and look beyond any naysayers. Staff have to be on board with the transformation wholeheartedly, or they don’t have a place on the team. This approach should be firm, but not so heavy-handed that the organization loses top talent in its pursuit of a speedy digital transformation.
The right tactic is to make people feel empowered and important. Take into account their “on the ground” insights, especially when you need to adjust behaviors and processes with digital. And allow them to fail when their pursuit is the broader digital transformation goal. The digital transformation roadmap should be relatable to every staff member, so they can understand how the changes will relate to their particular job. Be sure to explain the “why” of the moves, so they see that the company has to adapt in order to compete. And you must backup these reasons with the proper training and guidance on how the staff can get the most out of the new tech tools and processes.
The Direction for Change Comes from the Top
The C-suite must push forward the directive for digital transformation. Some companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on technology that enables mobile ordering or connects multiple channels into a seamless experience. Such change can only come to fruition if the CEO and other leaders are intricately involved. While only the biggest firms are looking at that kind of expenditure, even the SMB’s need to commit resources that must be fully endorsed by the C-suite.
The CEO will need to look to the CIO and CTO to offer recommendations (probably with the help of consultants), and then personally push forward the plan so everyone understands it’s imperative to the success of the entire business. Then the COO comes in to make sure the plan is properly managed by the right people and it’s adopted across the organization. This step ensures the transformation doesn’t fizzle out before its effects are fully felt among both internal staff and the customers.
The Customer Matters Most
To implement digital transformation throughout the company, it’s best to start with the needs of the actual customers. Understanding today’s digital consumers is essential, and requires the team to spot a pressing need, offering a digital-based fix, and then tying KPIs to the fix. This means understanding the customers’ role as users of your service or product, and understanding how the company can become more deeply enmeshed in the users’ typical day. Some companies take a different track and look to digitize their back-end processes or records, when they should instead focus on reduce customer inefficiencies and find ways to boost how the users interact with the brand.
Richard Fouts, research vice president at Gartner said “Transformation puts you in discovery mode; the firms we talked to treat it more like a scientific experiment versus an engagement with a known deliverable.” While this quote does not mean firms should ignore metrics, it does suggest they should act with agility and take some risks when it comes to improving the customer’s digital experience. Pulling off such moves requires an IT department that is able to move from mainly helping internal staff to a department with a shifting mindset towards customer-facing tools.
Companies must first understand the customer journey. How do customers find or interact with the company? How many of them are expecting to order/engage via mobile? Once the questions are answered, then it’s time to find opportunities that can be improved. Maybe the site isn’t mobile optimized. Perhaps the company’s app is outdated and doesn’t provide a good complement to in-store shopping. Whatever the exact case, it’s vital for everyone on the team (consultants included) to tackle digital transformation from the customer’s perspective and needs.
Picking the Right Tech for the Right Purpose
There are a lot of different types of technologies out there, so it can be difficult to pick the right mix of tools/platforms/solutions for the transformation. Making that choice depends on the processes that the firm is trying to improve and the overall business objectives. Collect a team of informed decision makers who can work together with various departments to determine the most pressing needs and the right technology tools. Bringing in a consultant can pay dividends here, as they offer an objective outside view of what’s happening with the customers and staff and what needs to change. They can guide you towards solutions that feature multiple benefits, such as improved collaboration and the removal of process or data silos.
When new tools are introduced, it’s important to have widespread adoption. Consider training staff on the basic functions that will be most familiar to them, and then roll out advanced features over time. Staff will have time to see the improved processes for themselves, without being overwhelmed and yearning for the “old way” of doing things.
Working with Techblocks
TechBlocks’ team of consultants can not only provide answers for why digital transformation is needed, but also the actual roadmap of necessary steps. They have deep experience with such work in multiple industries, and have seen the results firsthand when companies embrace transformation. The consultants work hand-in-hand with clients to perform a needs analysis and then recommend the best tools and procedural changes that will result in a digitally-based efficiency operation.
To understand more about our approach, check out our next blog in our series that details the work the company has done with utility sector clients. The utilities industry is complex and unique, but it’s certainly ripe for change, and TechBlocks understands the hurdles and the right path forward.