In 2017, Wal-Mart will spend a whopping $2 billion dollars on digital transformation, while General Electric and Uniliver have committed a billion dollars each towards their goal of digital dominance.
Smaller companies are investing too. Today, it’s seen as obligatory for a company of any size to at least buy web property, launch a website and provide an app for their customers. The rise of digital workplaces is another indicator or digital transformation taking root in the developed world.
And yet, according to Michael Gale, the founder of Strategic Oxygen and expert on integrated technology marketing, 84 percent of companies will fail at digital transformation.
But, how can the relatively simple process of digital transformation go so wrong? Well, for starters, it’s not that simple.
The Hidden Intricacies of Digital Transformation
It is difficult to imagine how a company’s digital journey can go totally off-tangent. So, here’s a hypothetical case that will lend some perspective to this indigestible idea.
Let’s say you are the CEO of an FMCG company, you’d typically start your digital journey by redefining customer experience. You’d spend tons of money on marketing automation, personalized content as well as implement geo-targeting on the website.
Next, you’d want to invest money on customer intelligence because this will help you gain insights into your customers’ presences, which would enable you to create products that sell more.
Now, when you’re implementing technology for customer experience and customer intelligence, you generate a wealth of information and this information is worth nothing unless you do something with it. So, all of sudden your organization is functioning on a new set of strategies and your operational processes have been remodeled. To support this transformation, new tech tools are acquired for each department with the hope that it will lead to productivity and overall efficiency.
When various teams and departments start using off the shelf technology tools, it creates a big problem. The customer information available in marketing department’s CRM isn’t accessible to the accounts department. Then there is the project management tool which makes collaboration easier, but doesn’t help in determining project costs. And then, to top it all off, you’ve the marketing and legal departments using different content management and collaboration tools.
In other words, everything is digital, but it’s a digital mess.
What Leads to Digital Transformation Failure?
A missing or deficient digital transformation strategy is usually to blame for a failed digital transformation.
Without a strategy, organizations tend to attack each area of their business as a standalone task. By making one change at a time, and in isolation, companies end up stacking technology solutions which are not interconnected as they should be. This leads to silos, poorly integrated apps and a disjointed digital culture within the company.
To make up for this cobbled together digital transformation, employees and developers must do extra work to transfer information between departments. It also makes it difficult for top management to acquire consolidated reports, because data must be pulled out from different systems and reconstructed to provide meaningful information.
So, the very purpose of going digital (flexibility, speed and productivity) goes straight out the window.
Digital Transformation Done Right
A digital transformation process should never just be about upgrading to a better CRM, CMS or ERP. Likewise, providing off-the-shelf mobile apps to employees or consumers is not going to do you any favours in the long run. The digital transformation process should be far more nuanced.
Here’s a short three-step plan toward a successful digital transformation.
1. Set Out a Strategy
Every digital transformation journey should begin with the planning of a strategy based on data and research.
The focus should be on simplifying processes through technology and ensuring that every department and individual employee has easy access to information they need. There should be a focus on building a digitally-receptive culture, too, by educating employees about the benefits of digital workplaces, digital customer care and digital marketing.
Then, your strategy should take into account the wants and needs of your target market. What devices and channels are they using? Will you be able to pivot into new channels when they emerge? What digital practices do you customers like to see from their favourite brands? These are some of the questions you need to address.
2. Think Smart About The Technology
Organizations rarely need to be told to think about technology — but they do need to be reminded to think smart. When brands prioritize features over usability and integrations for example, the result is a technology stack which most employees will find difficult to use.
In many organizations, departments are allowed to choose their own tools, which sounds great at first, but it always leads to disjointed workplaces where two departments are locked into their own digital silo. This affects communication, collaboration and leaves employees disenfranchised by the whole idea of digital transformation.
Choosing a limited number of platforms to rest your digital workplace upon is the smarter move. Features are great, but focus more on user-friendly interfaces and the ability to integrate existing systems and workflows (like Microsoft Office and Gmail). Your digital workplace should be modular, yet interconnected at the same time.
When it comes to customer-facing technology, aim for all of the above, but with features that will help you personalize content, pivot into new channels and react to customer demands with speed.
For example, consumers are currently satisfied with brand interactions taking place on social media and native apps on their smartphones and tablets. But as we move deeper into the era of IoT (Internet of Things), consumers are slowly but surely expecting brands to hold a presence on channels like smart home assistants, VR headsets, smartwatches and even vehicle dashboard interfaces. So, choose the right technologies to help you make those moves today, and in the future.
3. Lean on Experts
Finally, with digital transformations failing so often, it’s advisable to seek our expert advice during the strategy planning phase, and expert guidance during the technology implementation process.
At KXP, we know that every business is unique. Their internal departments need to have a tailored system that works to accommodate existing workflows and the varying technological know-how among employees. Similarly, every brand’s customer base needs to be analyzed before changes are made to the way they receive support, place orders and consume content.
That’s why we scrutinize operational processes, get to know our client’s position in their industry, and then leverage our experience to help plan and deploy the best technological solution for the job.
Digital Transformation: More Than Just Technology
A digital transformation means so much more than just adopting new technologies into the workplace. It means building a strategy to meet internal and external demands and having the data to keep making intelligent moves as the world evolves both online and offline.
Got any digital transformation tips of your own? Share them with us by leaving a comment below!