Digital transformation is the process of rethinking the use of a company’s technology, platforms and processes to create new business models and new forms of revenue. This approach was developed in recent decades with the advance of technology, and exploded in the past two years.
Digital transformation is driven by changes in customer expectations, and at no time has this been more apparent than in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the world. Businesses needed to adapt to the changing circumstances, and many did so with great effort: Shops such as Walmart, Target etc. switched to curbside delivery, with apps and automated messages letting people know when to pick up their products — a necessary adaptation that made great use of technology in order to facilitate it.
Digital transformation is about combining business and technology in order to make your customers’ lives easier. Whether that’s using apps, software, new devices etc. – that depends on the individual business, what services or products are offered, etc, but adapting to new ways of doing things has already become crucial in the current market.
Digital transformation relies entirely on having a plan, a vision which the business intends to see through in order to help achieve the goal of becoming fully digital. This is called a digital strategy. It exists to ensure that the company’s digital assets are utilized to their fullest potential, in line with the business goals and values.
A business might obtain digital assets, but without a plan of how to use them they won’t be much help. Below are outlined the steps which you need to take in order to create a successful digital strategy.
You need to know your position – your assets, customer audience and competitors. Competitors’ digital investments can be a great guide as to what might be useful, but it’s always best to try out other avenues as well. Knowing your customer demographics is key in choosing what assets to focus on as more tech-savvy consumers would aim for apps and interactive websites, whereas older, less technologically focused customers would be turned off by this.
The next step is to pull all of your research together for a coherent picture. Often this is done with the aid of software rather than hand-combing through data, as it’s overarching trends that you’re looking for rather than any niche areas. Remember, while you might offer a unique point of contact among those in the market if it rarely ever gets used it’s not a good investment. Practicality is key, and the cost of your new digital assets needs to be balanced by the increase in revenues they help produce.
Pick Your Plan
Taking into account the results of your analysis, decide on a course for your business to take. Having a unified approach across your business is the best way to ensure a seamless transition, so make sure everyone is on board. Digital strategy is a top-down approach, decided at the highest levels and implemented by everyone else.
Lay Out Your Strategy
In a lot of cases, the center-piece of your digital strategy will be a website, but there are plenty of cases in which businesses get along just fine using apps or software as their main interface – in those cases a website is often just a way to download their main interface. You should take your overall vision, and apply it to the properties of the platform you are using in order to kick-start the process.
You should definitely look into secondary tools too: SEO, keywords and such are great ways to ensure your platform receives the most attention it can. Visibility is the key to digital success, as people these days are so drowned in a sea of information and advertisement that they’ve become desensitized to a lot of conventional advertising means. As technology has evolved, search engines have also started punishing those who simply link all their information in a great big block of text. You need to be grabbing, and stand out, but above all be readable and digestible so that consumers don’t just turn away.
Your customers are at the centre of your digital transformation, after all it’s entirely based on what they use and what they don’t that failure standards are determined. While just raw data can be useful, you need to look at the bigger picture of changing circumstances too. In a lot of cases the technology that sprung to life in mid 2020 will stick around, but some is simply convoluted and inconvenient compared to the conventional means that existed before lockdown.
You might be afraid of putting all of your eggs in one basket, and it’s a valid fear when the market is changing so rapidly and outcomes are hard to predict. Thanks to recent events, things which usually take years to plan and implement had to be done in a matter of months, so it’s no surprise that some approaches ended up failing.
There is a tool to help here, and it’s known as the discovery driven approach. Essentially it’s an approach which isn’t usually seen in business whereby you constantly re-adjust your plans and resources based on performance, and close channels where needed. For example, you might have created a simple app, a website, and started an email link to your customers.
Feedback shows you that your customers aren’t interested in the app so you close it down. In ordinary business terms that would make the venture a failure, but here we measure success by benchmarks, not by overall impact. It’s a more flexible approach where failures aren’t necessarily bad – they can be lessons to learn from and help you change your strategy in this uncertain time.
Each avenue you explore will likely help you grow and if it doesn’t, well, you’ve gathered valuable data on the current market and consumer expectations, desires and limitations.