With the impact COVID-19 is having on global economies, many business leaders recognize that digital transformation is more essential than ever to ensure the survival of their companies. But digital transformation can be a massive technological and cultural undertaking, and dealing with something so expansive can leave many wondering where to even begin.
Here’s a good place to start: ask yourself what outcome you want out of your digital transformation.
Set Digital Transformation Goals
For many organizations, maintaining a competitive edge is the central motivation driving their digital transformation, but it helps to narrow your focus and be specific when it comes to what you’re hoping to accomplish. Some companies digitally transform in order to provide better value to their customers by offering new products and services. For others, the competitive edge comes from streamlining internal processes and capitalizing on new efficiencies digital technology can offer.
Establish a Baseline
Before you can start making changes to your business’s digital landscape, it’s important to assess it as it currently exists. Without a centralized digital transformation plan, investment in new technology at your company was likely done piecemeal, with many separate, smaller groups adopting various tools to solve their own challenges. Going from an inefficient and costly patchwork system to a streamlined company-wide solution is what digital transformation is all about.
Work with department heads and team leaders to develop a map of the digital tools and processes that are already in place throughout your organization. This will help you identify specific pain points and inefficiencies you can aim to resolve through digital transformation, and creates a grounded case for why your digital transformation is so important.
Get Leadership On Board
Digital transformation represents not only a technological shift, but a cultural one as well. So getting support from the highest levels of leadership early on is critical. Be prepared to demonstrate the ways that taking your operations digital will help your organization better meet the needs of your customers and keep up with the evolving marketplace.
In many ways, this is an important continuation of the previous step. Any major change to the way a company does business is going to have detractors. The type of changes a digital transformation brings will attract not only outright nay-sayers, but also plenty of entrenched internal stakeholders who are simply used to the way things have been done and are resistant to change. Even if they’ve agreed to the initiative, there are those who will be ready to abandon it at the first hint that it may not be working.
That’s why it’s important to start with a win - even if it’s a small one. Identify a simple digital project that has the potential to drive real cost savings and also enable further digitization of other business processes in the future.
Here are a few good entry points where you can kick-start an organizational digital transformation:
Digitizing paper workflows
Taking traditionally paper-based documents and transforming them into digital versions can immediately reduce costs and improve security, but can also enable further downstream digitization as your transformation gains momentum. One way to start this process might be transitioning to a digital mailroom, which enables remote workers, centralizes communications, and improves document security.
Cloud storage enables users to access data and documents on any chosen device, anywhere in the world, connecting disparate business functions and teams and enabling greater communication and collaboration. Similarly, cloud -based systems and tools provide businesses a more agile, efficient, and cost-effective alternative to one-off, customized solutions.
Plus, like digitizing paper workflows, migrating your storage and processes to cloud-based systems is a great way to enable further digital transformation downstream.
Robotic Process Automation
Digital transformation seeks to streamline internal processes and produce better outcomes - two things robotic process automation (RPA) is very good at.
RPA bots are designed to perform rule-based tasks like data entry, data transfer, and data validation, and can often do so faster and more accurately than human workers. By putting these bots to work, businesses can streamline operations while keeping employees more engaged in their work and focused on their customers.
As companies the world over face new, unprecedented challenges, the long term benefits of digital transformation can provide much needed stability and even a competitive advantage. Getting started is just a matter of having a plan, getting support, and taking it one step at a time.
One of the key ways digital transformation helps companies maintain business continuity in the face of unexpected disruptions is by enabling remote workers. To learn more, check out How Digital Transformation Makes Working from Home Work.