Digital Transformation 101: What does it really mean to digitalize?

Digital transformation has become a popular buzzword coined by businesses and organizations that are shifting gears to implement more technologies into their strategy. But what does the phrase truly entail? Read on below to find out more about what digital transformation is and discover how you can kickstart your journey towards digitalization.

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is an initiative in which technologies are used to integrate, optimize, and improve existing processes so they become much more effective and productive.

It is more than introducing a slew of new digital services to be used in the workplace. It’s an opportunity for organizations to re-evaluate how things have been done up-to-date, overhaul anything that doesn’t work, and remake key operations from the ground-up.

As the phrase suggests, the initiative should be transformative, with technology as the driver for change to your organization’s strategy, operations, and culture.

Main Benefits of Digitalization

Boosted efficiency
Integrate currently separate workflows and automate various tasks to help keep the focus on more important things.

Increased productivity
Foster better collaboration, smoothen communication, and boost engagement using digital in order to maximize productivity.

Improved accuracy
Automation will minimize human errors such as inputting mistakes or simply forgetting to do the job, while also reducing costs.

More insights
Capture data like never before to make better business decisions. Use it to analyze and optimize your products, services, and more.

Heightened brand experience
Utilize digital to make your end-to-end brand experience more convenient, efficient, or cheaper for your customers.

Digital is NOT a Magical Cure-All

Although many businesses and organizations are beginning to make digitalization a priority, often times these initiatives fail. Why? We have seen that there is a widespread belief held by people that organizations will change just by adopting new technologies. However, it takes more than shifting to digital to transform strategies and cultures that are deeply ingrained.

Let’s take an example. Company A decides to reduce the amount of email exchanges by taking up a chat service like Slack. Though the switch in itself may be a step in the right direction, if operations are not shifted to accommodate this transition, such as asking clients to communicate over Slack instead of email, there will be no fundamental change to the status quo. Moreover, nothing revolutionary will come out of replicating exactly how something was done before, but on a new service. If the amount of email exchanges is a pervading problem, operational changes must be set in stone to address this, not just a switch from email to Slack.

The lesson here is that digital is merely a medium and not what is directly transformative to your organization — operational changes are at the root of all successful transformations. With that being said, digital is a powerful enabler that accommodates radical changes, empowering you to link various processes, connect stakeholders, automate tasks, and gather data like never before. Successful digital transformations thus occur when core operations are fully reworked to take full advantage of digital’s capabilities.

Digital Success Still Comes Down to People

Another common mistake we see in many cases of digitalization is the lack of attention given to people. Stakeholder buy-in is crucial to the success of any digital transformation, since they are usually at the front-and-center of running any operations. Yet, we often see people—their needs, wants, and pain points—completely ignored in many digital transformation initiatives. Whether they are the end-users of the digital tools adopted by your organization or the end-customers of your products and services, if people don’t feel that they derive additional value from the digitalization, your initiatives will sooner or later fail.

This is easier said than done, however, since the greatest roadblock standing in the way of most digital transformations are people; the introduction of digital frightens some, while others are resistant to change. It is therefore extremely important to take a human-centered approach when digitalizing, getting end-users involved whenever possible. The goal is to co-create a brand new way of working using digital as an agent with all your stakeholders, to ensure that they buy in to the strategy while also validating that they feel empowered by the change to better contribute to your bottom line. Remember: attempting to digitally transform without hearing the needs of the people involved will create more issues than it will solve — avoid this mistake at all costs.

We hope this article shed some light on what digital transformation really is and the basic do’s and don’ts when your business or organization embarks on digitalizing. The bottom line is that technology is only the tip of the iceberg of a digital transformation: it all comes down to changing how things are done and appropriating digital in a smart way so operations become more effective and efficient.

Want some inspiration for your digital transformation? Read our success stories to see some of the creative ways we’ve helped our clients embrace digital.

Or, if you want further assistance in kickstarting your transformation, shoot us a message here today!