As new technologies arise and redefine the market, digital transformation has become both one of the greatest challenges a business can face and its greatest opportunity for growth. Digital transformation involves leveraging the latest technologies to enhance business activities, models, competencies and processes. It not only allows you to achieve your goals more effectively, but to expand your goals and reimagine your methods for achieving them. Transformation requires watching and responding to new technological developments continuously. The quicker and more consistently your firm does this, the more likely you are to achieve enduring success in a changing market.

While almost every organization understands the importance of digital transformation in theory, many fail to achieve it in practice. The rise of mobile technology over the past 10 years is a powerful case in point. Since 2007, consumers have begun relying on smartphones and tablets to learn about products, make purchases and carry out a growing portion of their commercial activities. Yet, on average, businesses have only invested 1 percent more of their tech budgets in emerging technologies during this period.

The good news is that many companies are beginning to recognize what they lose through slow digital transformation and are beginning to invest more in emerging technologies. If your firm seeks to redesign itself around new tech more quickly and effectively, the following strategy will ensure success:

Step 1: Paying Attention to Patrons
The patron, or customer is always right, and this is especially true in matters of technology. Current and potential patrons judge your company’s user experience based on the software and devices that they use to engage with your brand. If you fail to optimize your website for mobile devices, for instance, customers who shop on their phones will not want to visit your site. Thus, your first priority should always be to figure out how consumers are using technology and adapt accordingly. You can do this through:

  • Advanced Analytics – Using analytics software, you can figure out how customers learn about your company and decide to take a look at it. You can then optimize the channels that are bringing in the largest numbers of customers. Say you find that a high percentage of customers first learn about your company through Facebook. Based on this information, you should begin regularly updating your Facebook page, organizing it for easy navigation, and providing links to your website or product pages, etc.
  • Optimizing Options – Different customers each have their own preferences for how to interact with your company, so you should give them as many options as possible and let them pick the one that suits them best. Take customer support: Instead of relying on one means of communication, give customers the option of asking questions or requesting assistance through email, phone or live chat. The more options you give them, the more likely they are to find one that meets their specific needs.
  • Savvy Surveys – Besides studying customers’ past interactions and giving them as many options as possible, you should proactively seek their opinions on how to optimize your business. By regularly asking past and prospective clients how you could be doing better, you can identify the technologies that customers want you to adopt the most.

Paying attention to customers’ needs and habits not only allows you to adopt useful technologies, but also to rule out technologies that are not worth your investment. The better you gauge current and potential customers, the easier it is to make targeted digital transformations that generate clear benefits for your business.

Step 2: Personnel Perceptions
In addition to customers, digital transformation should also meet the needs of your employees. Few elements are more critical to a successful business than quality communication between coworkers, and new devices are constantly changing the nature of modern communication. It is thus critical to pay attention to how employees are using new technologies and take that into account when communicating with them. Say employees are using What’sApp to discuss work matters with each other. By creating a company What’sApp group, you give everyone a centralized place to share information and find each other’s numbers. Employees will feel encouraged to use this method, leading them to communicate more effectively.

Besides enhancing communication, digital transformation should also seek to improve employees’ job satisfaction. One of the most-effective ways to do this is by giving your staff more flexibility in their work hours and locations. Mobile technology has created unprecedented opportunities to share documents and communicate remotely. As a result, a growing number of jobs can be done outside of the office. Employees who would like to work from home or another location and feel they can do so effectively should be given a chance to do so.

In using technology, employees not only communicate better and achieve more job satisfaction, but also show you how new technologies are being used. By paying attention to the way your staff interacts with the latest devices, you can get a sense of the unexpected impact that those devices have on the human experience. This makes it easier to decide which devices are most likely to benefit your company, as well as how best to adopt them.

Step 3: Perfecting a Process
Once you have a sense of how your customers and employees are using new technologies, you must adapt quickly to those devices and uses. This means developing a proactive, streamlined process to determine what new tech to adopt. Here are important steps to consider when developing an effective process:

  • Assessment – Whenever you identify a new method or technology that customers or employees are using, assess all its uses and how it appears to be enhancing users’ experiences.
  • Experimentation – Adopt the technology in question on a limited scale within your organization. Try to use it for a growing number of processes and gather as much data as you can.
  • Analysis – Once you have explored all possible uses for this technology, analyze the data you gathered. How did it help you achieve your goals compared to the processes you used before?
  • Judgment – Based on your analysis, decide whether to adopt this new technology on a large scale.

Inevitably, some of the new devices, programs and processes you evaluate will fail to enhance your business and must thus be discarded. But if you’re willing to accept occasional failure and keep moving forward, you are far more likely to identify and adopt truly transformational technologies as soon as they become available.

The Potential & Pitfalls of Digital Transformation
Digital transformation goes beyond simply adopting new technologies, but involves reimagining your company culture and your process for thinking about technology. Many companies simply use new technology to enhance existing processes and achieve current goals more efficiently. The greatest improvements, however, come when you redesign your goals and processes around the new technology. The most successful companies align their corporate strategies with new technological endeavors and adopt new devices and processes consistently across their organizations.

While adopting a culture of digital transformation takes time and practice, doing so has enduring benefits for your firm. More than 2.5 billion people across the globe use smartphones, and that number will only increase in the coming years. The better you are at quickly adopting new tech throughout your organization, the easier it will be to appeal to this enormous pool of digitally connected consumers, all while cutting costs, fostering flexibility and improving employee satisfaction. For more information on the art and importance of digital transformation, contact ImageX today.

Main photo credit Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash