As the word “digital” has become ubiquitous in managerial vocabulary, it can be said with some confidence that the so-called digital transformation is no longer a mere opportunity and means of offering a competitive advantage. It is now an absolute must.
Indeed, the very advent of digital Darwinism means that a company’s survival does not depend on strength or intelligence, but on an ability to adapt to change. And in today's world, technology and society are evolving much faster than organizations established prior to the digital revolution are able to adapt to it.
Here are 7 steps to kickstart a digital transformation in a business of any size or sector, with a plan to better shape efforts and ensure a smooth adaptation to a new digital environment.
This post is also available in Spanish.
How to start a digitization process in my company?
1. Define “digital transformation”
To start any planning, it is essential to be up to speed with the times. The same goes for starting a company’s digitization process. The first step is to overcome false notions as to what the process should entail, the principal one being that this kind of transformation correlates with the adoption of new technologies or with the development of apps. While these may be options at some point down the line, they are not necessary initially. What companies should be doing is first evaluating and rethinking how their organization operates in terms of both internal and external operations. This will ensure the company’s point of departure for any transformation is far more relevant, and this in itself can vary dramatically from one business to the next.
“The only wrong move when it comes to Digital Transformation is not to make any move at all.”
- Didier Bonnet, Senior VP, Capgemini
2. Digital transformation must become a priority
Having defined what digitization means for your company, it is equally important to make it a priority. Those processes that begin with doubt, hesitation or an inaccurate amount of dedicated time and resources are pretty much doomed from the outset.
|“88% of companies are going through Digital Transformation, but only 25% know WHY.”
- Brian Solis, Principal Analyst at Altimeter Group
3. Enlist management support and develop digital leadership
For digital transformation to be a priority, it is essential to get the support and understanding of managers who accept that digitization is not merely an accessory that may or may not improve the company’s results but an absolute necessity for the company’s survival. Convincing managers of this may first require taking another key step: changing the company innovators (or those with a traditional “welfare role” to resolve complaints raised by third parties) into leaders, putting them in a strong position to convince managers and steer the organization as a whole toward a renewed business model.
Source: Digital Transformation: How leaders meet modern customer expectations by Chet Kapoor, CEO at Apigee
4. Create, enable and support a digital transformation team
It is important for a company to have the right people for the job when undertaking a digital transformation. This does not imply creating a team of technical professionals. Quite the contrary, as companies often have the necessary professionals already working for their organization. They only have to identify them, give them the right tools and encourage a close collaboration with the rest of the company, all the while ensuring that their work is known and appreciated by all.
Having said that, digital professionals are in demand, so it is advisable to articulate flexible labor policies through contracts that allow working remotely, precisely in order to retain these digital skilled professionals.
5. Re-evaluate your policy of alliances and suppliers
In a context characterized by constant changes in consumer attitudes and the continuing emergence of new technologies, even the most capable digital team can have difficulties in keeping up with challenges faced during the digitization process. It is therefore crucial to outsource to third parties such as technology providers, SaaS platforms and consultants in a way that transcends the old customer-supplier hierarchical relationships and allows partnerships based on trust and loyalty. This allows a two-way dialogue to take place between collaborators and offers greater flexibility in the establishment and dissolution of partnerships.
6. Understand your users and build a UX map
“With Digital Transformation the consumer, rather than the technology, is in the driver's seat, and this matters.”
Once you are fully aware of what is involved in a digital transformation process, you and your organization must ensure that you fully understand the demands of your customers. To do so, the technology currently on the market offers companies advanced data analysis solutions at a reduced cost or even for free. With these tools you can collect and analyze data to better understand how consumers interact with your digital channels, from web pages to Twitter profiles, online stores or apps.
7. Make the optimization of your customers' digital experience the first goal
As mentioned before, the digital transformation has to cover both the external and internal parts of a company. The importance of the external is that it gives meaning to any internal changes and contributes to "closing the loop," making the transformation coherent and complete. With regards to any external dealings, the company's first question should be: "What is my digital customer doing right now?" From there on out, the business must undergo a transformation in such a way that the customers can see the changes, and be accompanied by changes to internal operations and technology. The transformation of the relationship with the customer should guide every internal change. Starting from the outside is a guarantee of success.
Achieve these 7 steps and you’ll have a solid foundation for the digital transformation of your business. Focus on your clients using data analysis, be more flexible with employees and suppliers and let internal change be guided by your relationship with digital customers.
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This post is also available in Spanish.
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