The term digital transformation has, unfortunately, become tech jargon. But now, accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, companies across all sectors are having to start their digital transformation journey quickly to cope with the new demands of remote working.
Digital transformation: it has never been more relevant for businesses
The Government’s renewed call for people to work from home has only given this acceleration another shift in gear. Digital transformation can no longer be at the back of business leaders’ minds - it is now a necessity, particularly as office workers of all positions and levels aren’t wanting to go back to the office five days a week again as found by the British Council for Offices (BCO).
Businesses must now look beyond merely surviving, and focus on continued IT optimisation and strengthened defences against evolving cyber threats, as well as ensure that digital transformation efforts reflect the ever-changing parameters of the modern workplace. All this must be done whilst continuing business operations, with stricter, smaller budgets.
So, the question is; how do businesses digitally transform, and what does a successful digital transformation journey look like?
Planning for Digital Transformation Success
Every business’s digital transformation journey and road map will be customisable and unique to them, but it is advisable to keep in mind three key pillars:
- Discover and assess
- Design and plan
- Build and transform
1. Discover and assess
Before investing money and embarking on the journey, it is crucial to take stock and analyse exactly what is required by the business. What needs to be transformed and how? Is it the technology itself, or would the business benefit from automating manual processes, for example?
The next step is to then consider what, specifically, in the IT department needs to be transformed digitally. Does the entire infrastructure need to be updated, or is it just a few processes that would make the department more efficient and relevant to today’s working environment?
Assessing the environment in which staff are working is also important. Of course, many people are now working remotely, or splitting their time between the office and their home. Investing in technology that is fit for purpose among today’s landscape is key.
As they say, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. First and foremost, analysis must be carried out to provide an overview of what is required and how.
2. Design and plan
Once it is clear what a business needs and how these requirements will be met, the digital transformation path can begin to be embarked upon.
First, we recommend laying out the transformation strategy itself, and the cloud adoption strategy (assuming cloud adoption is going to be part of the digital transformation of a business). The architectural design stage also needs to be mapped out here, essentially strategizing which infrastructure, or new technologies will be built into a business’s system.
But also within this stage comes an important part – building the business case. Without board-level buy-in and justifying the cost required in order to digitally transform, the journey ends here.
3. Build and transform
And now the final stage, the building of infrastructure and the eventual transformation of the business.
Key aspects of this stage include piloting the proposed transformation actions, the installation, configuration and stress testing of different technologies. This will hugely aid the eventual transition to the new systems.
Assessing and building in cybersecurity measures is advisable here too, as more devices continue to operate outside of the office. This naturally increases the cyberthreat landscape and number of threats the business faces. Investing in endpoint solutions that protect devices in and outside of the office is key.
And finally, once the business has been digitally transformed and new processes have been put in place, it is vital that staff members are trained on the systems, and thoroughly. The success of the transformation lies in its uptake, and how well it is bought into and used by all members of the staff that it affects.
Measuring the digital transformation's ROI
As it’s not necessarily a tangible metric, it can be hard to measure the return on investment (ROI) of the transformation journey and its success. However, there are numerous considerations that can help determine what the ROI is.
Firstly, setting out what the objectives are for the transformation to achieve - it could be to increase customer experiences, improve the company’s infrastructure or increase staff productivity, for example.
Outlining the costs of implementing the transformation strategy is important - and knowing what the aims of that financial outlay are. This will provide a reference point and target to achieve when measuring ROI.
Of course, being realistic with the goal is important; but stage one of the journey, discovering and assessing, should provide insight into how to make these targets realistic.
And it’s vital to focus on staff training, who are likely to be the people interacting most with the new tools and systems once in place. It would be a disaster if goals, such as increasing productivity by a certain percentage, weren’t met because employees weren’t maximising systems to their full potential through a lack of knowledge.
And finally, as with any other aspect of a business’s operations, never stop measuring! Constantly measuring the ROI will give a holistic view of what areas need to be improved – and help justify the initial investment, if required to do so.
More than just jargon
We have entered a time where digital transformation is arguably more crucial than ever before, if businesses are to adapt and operate alongside the pandemic – and beyond. It can no longer be seen as just jargon, with its significance fading into white noise.
And while the process can seem daunting, sticking to the key principles of discovering, planning and building will make traversing the path of digital transformation much simpler. It can seem like a daunting task, but, with analysis and strategy it can be achieved, whatever the goal.