Digital Transformation: What it Means For Your Business

Digital transformation is changing how business is done and, in some cases, creating entirely new types of business. It’s not just about choosing the right machine or software for the job; it’s taking a critical view of everything your business does and how you go about doing it.

This article will explain what digital transformation really is, as well as the 3 key areas to change in your business and the 4 key talent areas to look for when putting together your transformation team.

What is Digital Transformation

Working across the whole of a business, digital transformation integrates digital technology into operations. It fundamentally changes how you operate and deliver value to your customers. It brings a cultural change that requires organisations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment, and become comfortable with failures. 

This may seem like a lot, and it’s understandable if the idea of overhauling your entire business sounds daunting. But computers, and the wealth of digital technologies they bring, are an integral part of the modern world, and there are many opportunities for businesses to seize. 

Like how you might bring in an Operations Director to get the best efficiency from your workforce, support options are available to get the most out of your tech. A Digital Transformation Review facilitated by an experienced IT Director can help you understand where you want to go, know where you stand, and plan out how you will grow. 

Where to start with your digital transformation

Before making any significant changes to a business, you should understand why you’re doing it. As with any strategic mission, this shouldn’t be vague, like “grow value,” but something specific. Finding the right problem statement, clear opportunity or aspirational goal for your business will help define how your digital transformation process will look.

What this goal may be, may not be clear to you if you don’t know the ideas behind digital transformation. A good leader knows when to seek support, and a Digital Transformation Review with an expert may be the best way to get answers. 

The 3 key areas to change

Digital transformation can and should focus on the problems and opportunities of greatest importance for your business. Although it’s important to consider all three, there may be one that’s best to target first. Each has a few different things you can focus on and to find your own strengths and weaknesses in.

1. Operational Effectiveness/Agility

Assess how well your systems work and where they can improve.

  • Redundant Systems finding where software overlaps, or is no longer needed. Identifying what is now redundant and could be dropped could save you money.
  • Gaps in Software finding where your current systems leave gaps. Existing systems may leave some important but hard to see details without coverage.
  • Improving Communications making it easier for data to move around your business. A digital system can help reduce data re-entry, ease management, and allow for real-time updates.

2. Customer Experience

Digital technology can improve and streamline your customers’ experience. 

  • Customer and Market Data by researching and analysing your customers and the markets you operate in, you can identify what they actually want. This can help inform R&D and future strategy.
  • Streamlining Communications looking at how your business communicates with potential customers when forming a lead. What platforms are you using and are there better ones for the audience?
  • Reviewing Marketing using sales data to assess if your marketing is using the right channels, if your frequency of communication is right, or finding the best types of ad for targeted campaigns. This helps understand if your message is accurate to your market.

3. Growth – Product and Proposition

Your business may have areas you can expand digitally to grow your value to the customer.

  • Identifying Strengths innovating the market is an important part of your value proposition. Knowing what you’re good at may show you what you could develop into a digital product.
  • Data Monetisation making use of the data you already have to directly produce value. You could find data partners and improve your sales.
  • Modelling Diversification using customer and product data to analyse what else they may want, or ways to easily adapt into a new market. Data-driven decision making reduces the risks in these inherently uncertain major steps for your business.

The 4 key talent areas needed for successful digital transformation

Good digital transformation means ensuring you have the right talent to cover all 4 areas. Whoever runs your digital transformation should have all of the qualities of a great digital leader, whether as an individual Director or a full team.

  1. Data Unfortunately, many companies still don’t have their data up to basic standards. Rigorous transformation requires much better data quality and the skills to analyse and use it.
  2. Process Transformation needs an end-to-end mindset: a process orientation. It needs a rethinking of how to meet customer needs, seamless connection of work activities, and the ability to manage across silos.
  3. People and Organisational Change Capability It changes a lot within a business, so needs management with strong leadership, teamwork and emotional intelligence. It’ll take courage to take some of the steps and everyone will have a lot of learning that’ll need guidance.
  4. Technology Many businesses have enormous technical debt – they’ve built up and embedded legacy technologies that are hard to change. These can be found by those who have the technological depth and breadth, and the ability to work hand-in-hand with the business.

Technology is the body of digital transformation, data drives it, the processes make it something tangible and organisational change makes it viable for you. All four parts are needed and must all function well together. When they do, digital transformation will be easy to manage.

How we can help

If you aren’t sure what change would suit best, or recognise that your Board of Directors is missing some of the characteristics of a digital leader, Boardroom Advisors can help provide the support you need.

Our Digital Transformation Review service will pair you with one of our expert Advisors to run through all of these areas. They’ll assess where you stand, identify your potential and provide recommendations to shape your digital transformation.

Full-time executive-level hires may not be right for your business, maybe you don’t yet have the funding or the workload for them. A Part-time IT Director can provide a flexible option that suits you better. Able to provide the right balance of time, they provide you with the expertise to transform your company at a fraction of the cost.

If you would like to digitally review your business or think a Part-time IT Director could be what you need, contact us and talk to a Regional Director to see how we can help.

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran six of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.