What is Digital Transformation?

The world is buzzing with flashy, feature-rich technologies and digital innovations that constantly woo customers from one business to the next. Whenever one business launches a captivating new feature, customers expect the same from each of the other businesses that they work with. Top-notch digital customer experiences have become so common that customers now demand the sleek, bold user-friendliness of an iPhone, the personalization of Netflix, and the one-click, lightning fast processing of Amazon from every business they work with.  These changes are all part of new frontier called digital transformation.

A definition

Digital transformation goes beyond a new app or simple transfer of paperwork from overstuffed filing cabinets to the cloud. It’s the process of holistically reimagining every aspect of your business and identifying how the latest technologies can:

  • Deliver engaging and valuable experiences that focus on customer needs
  • Embrace collaboration within your organization by eliminating departmental silos
  • Skyrocket employee productivity by eliminating time-draining processes
  • Increase agility so your organization is ready to take advantage of emerging trends  and weather economic and competitive risks 
  • Mitigate regulatory risk by creating universal policies from one central hub
  • Reduce internal time wasted on processing customer requests

Many industries believe digital transformation is just for high-tech, glossy companies like Apple and Nike.  This couldn’t be any further from the truth. Customers and clients expect well-oiled experiences from insurance companies, healthcare providers, infrastructure, legal services, banks, government agencies, educators, and more. Organizations that fail to deliver the types of digital user experiences that we’ve come to expect are playing with fire—97% of customers surveyed say they’re likely to abandon a business that offers confusing, archaic, and time-consuming experiences. How can your business stay ahead of the curve and kick start your digital transformation?

Benefits of digital transformation

Save time by automating manual processes

An important aspect of digital transformation is process automation. Looking at your roadmap, you can identify what steps in your customer journey are most cumbersome. Do customers wait too long on hold with your support team? Chatbots can clear up your support desk by taking on easy questions like delivery status and password changes. Is your sales team losing valuable time copying and pasting customer data between your CRM into a customer contract? Automation can free your sales team from manual busywork by using software to connect systems and automatically populate data fields. 

Gain a powerhouse trove of customer data

Understanding your customer is a pinnacle component of modern-day business success. How businesses gather customer intel can vary.  Basic data like location and age, website shopping or navigation habits, how customers use an app, and what types of email subjects pique a customer’s unique interest. Most businesses have hundreds of thousands of megabytes of data at their fingertips, but experts estimate that up to 80% of it languishes and ultimately goes to waste. Without the right systems in place, it’s impossible to access or capitalize on. Digital transformation helps your team aggregate and compile the right customer data and transform it into actionable insight. 

Foster collaboration by breaking down organizational silos

You’re looking for a key piece of information you remember seeing in a recent company presentation. So, you scour presentation slides, plod through hundreds of spreadsheet cells, and dig through old emails. You don’t know who created the report you’re searching for, so instead of contacting them directly, you’re leaving dozens of voicemails for multiple coworkers. If these steps sound familiar, you’re not alone—experts estimate the average employee spends nearly two hours a day searching for internal information. 

Digital transformation breaks down the communication and collaboration walls within your organization to reveal a new level of transparency. By centralizing key information, staff has quick access to any information they need from anywhere in the world. Additionally, digital transformation creates clear workflows for every process within your organization, so staff knows who is responsible for what. 

Fortify your business against future uncertainty

Nearly overnight, coronavirus changed the business landscape and revealed a devastating crevasse between physical and digital businesses. Business locations relying exclusively on face-to-face interactions and in-store visits lost their customer base nearly overnight. Organizations that previously ignored digital transformation calls-to-action received a jarring wake-up call. 

Quarantines and public safety measures quickly silenced any doubts about the importance of a digital transformation. Unprepared for the overnight transition to remote work, many organizations sent employees off to home offices with little plan or strategy. Businesses like banks had to find ways to quickly offer digital self-service tools to help their communities apply for in-demand PPP loans—and in some cases these changes had to happen in mere days.  

Now’s the time to prepare your business to weather the next wave of uncertainty. By kick starting your digital transformation now, you can immunize your business against sudden changes. 

Creating a digital transformation roadmap 

The prospect of launching a new business strategy can feel like an uphill battle, but an impervious action plan can help allay these frustrations. Studies reveal that more than half of technology initiatives fail simply because of poor planning, so the most important step is to start with a rock-solid understanding of the purpose behind your transformation. Using these four steps, you can prepare your organization with a powerful roadmap ready to drive your digital transformation forward. 

Identify your guiding vision 

First, it’s important to define your ultimate objective. What is your organization looking to achieve through your digital transformation? It’s important to adopt a holistic view of what the transformation means for your entire business, not just for an individual department or project. The concept of a holistic strategy isn’t just for show: One study revealed that 70% of siloed digital transformation initiatives will fail. A fresh, sweeping vision helps garner the support and attention of everyone within the organization to ensure your digital transformation sticks. 

Tune your organization’s full focus into the customer experience 

Interview those on the front lines of your organization. Your sales team, marketing team, and customer service team likely have the most interaction with your customer base. They’ve heard customer frustrations during support calls and are familiar with the trends ticking through their Twitter inbox. Create a comprehensive list of customer needs and competitive gaps and advantages.

The speed and efficiency of your customer experience comes down to how well you’re able to streamline all of your processes. Sit down with back-office team members like accounting, purchasing, and IT. Identify what process bottlenecks they are experiencing. For example, it doesn’t matter how brilliant your website design is if a client has to phone in and leave multiple messages in order to access their latest invoice. Digital transformation involves every touchpoint a customer has with your company—both direct and indirect. 

Pinpoint what aspects of your organization slow or hinder your ideal customer journey

Becoming a customer-centric company requires more than swapping in a new slogan. Every stakeholder in your organization needs to adopt a new mindset that’s wholly focused on the ultimate customer experience. Identify what key internal processes demand change in order to meet the requirements of your overall vision. 

What technologies will you need to adopt? Any new talent do you need to add to your team? Which processes do you need to overhaul? Here’s where you need to take a hard look at how you currently do business so you can identify which areas require the biggest change. 

Rank the potential value of each strategy 

Speeding up how quickly you can process invoices or send out personalized email campaigns has little effect if it doesn’t move the needle on customer delight and satisfaction—and ultimately your bottom line. Remember, the most successful digital transformations start with what customers actually want as opposed to what your company is able to offer.  

Examples of top-notch digital transformations

Studies show that digital transformation initiatives will add up to a $2.3 trillion in overall spend by 2023. What are some concrete examples of how leading businesses are capitalizing on this compelling trend? 

  • Can you imagine asking a dinner companion if they know the number of the local taxi company?  Or flagging down a waiter to ask for the precise address of the restaurant? Rideshare companies transformed the transportation industry with digital tools that upended the customer experience. 
  • Infinite choices sound like an appealing offer.  But customers don’t actually want to browse through 1,000-page catalogs or the entire library of shows on Netflix. Using digital tools, organizations can offer targeted lists of products and services curated for a customer’s precise behaviors and preferences—just like Netflix cuts through the noise by suggesting programs they know a customer will enjoy. 

Banregio Case Study

Some industries are at a higher regulatory risk than others, with finance and insurance industries topping the list. Banregio was excited to launch their digital transformation via a  new app for customers to view and service their investments from the comfort of their mobile device or tablet. With ProcessMaker as a technology partner, Banregio was able to create an internal ecosystem where administrative personnel could easily assign rules based on changing regulations, view in-app activity, and quickly monitor customer service response times.

Adecco Columbia Case Study 

Colombian tech and telecom giant Adecco Colombia identified its internal processes for routing contractor support tickets as a main drain on customer satisfaction. Staff managed tickets through patchwork spreadsheets and disjointed email chains. Ultimately, response time was delayed and information was inconsistent and lacking. 

Leading Adecco Colombia’s digital transformation was a new workflow solution that fully automated customer support tickets. By taking the process out of individual email inboxes and into a full-fledged support system, the team had full visibility into each process. The new system created within ProcessMaker expedited response times and created a new loyalty amongst customers. 

Avoid these digital transformation pitfalls 

Over 73% of digital transformation initiatives fail to deliver value—and we don’t want yours to meet the same fate. Here are three pitfalls to be aware of. 

  • Assign ownership: Every step of your transformation should involve a specific individual. Simply assigning responsibility to the “marketing department” won’t cut it—clear-cut roadmaps involve specific names to boost ownership and transparency. 
  • Get everyone onboard: Old habits die hard. In fact, the old adage is responsible for sending nearly 70% of digital initiatives to an early grave. This is why it’s important to interview all stakeholders when designing your roadmap. Involving your entire team raises the stakes by bolstering personal commitment to the overall goal. To overcome the death knell of employee resistance, be sure to get everyone onboard at the outset.
  • Proper communication with customers: Sure, you can launch an easy-to-use, award-winning self service portal—but what’s the point if you don’t inform customers it exists? Many coffee shops implement contactless Apple Watch payments, but without placards to inform customers the tech exists, they’re unlikely to actually use it. Create a rock-solid customer communication plan to ensure your digital transformation is a success.

It’s no secret—effective digital transformations boost customer satisfaction and lead to significant business gains. The digital transformation trend is more than just buzz—companies that adopt a digital-first, customer-focused approach exceeded their business goals in 2018. Why?

  • Outstanding experiences increase customer spending: Customers who had an outstanding experience spend almost 1.5x more than those who suffered a negative experience. 
  • Stellar experiences drive loyalty: It’s no secret that attracting new customers costs significantly more than keeping current ones onboard. Over 74% of customers stick with a subscription service for more than a year if they enjoy the experience.

A successful digital transformation requires more than ticking off a few to-dos and hosting a couple of all-hands meetings. By working closely with stakeholders, staff, and customers, you’ll cement your digital transformation into the everlasting fabric of your organization.

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