In the last few years, the phrase "digital transformation" has been nothing short of a buzzword in many industries - from the technology-oriented IT and digital marketing to less expected like agriculture and textiles. But what does the digital transformation really entail? Is it painful? Does it take a long time? Does it promise more than it actually delivers? Is it just another trend that will be gone soon?In order to address these and other questions about digitization, we have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
First of all, technologies are developing at an unprecedented pace. Just as this technological innovation is affecting our brains - it is proven that we are more anxious and stressed than ever because our minds simply haven’t evolved enough to overcome the huge amounts of information and sensory stimulation we receive daily from technology.
Similarly, businesses can’t keep up with every technological innovation that has hit the market just because it happens so often. We are in the so-called "Fourth Industrial Revolution," which, apart from the internet, smartphones and tablets, is characterized by the constant connectivity among us, constantly satisfying the need for awareness, globalization in every sense and a myriad of choices.All of these things make people feel depressed, inadequate, as if they are forever lagging behind.
Businesses are built by people no matter in which sector they operate in. The reluctance to embrace technologies (which can often be justified) is the main reason why companies fail to transform themselves digitally, despite invested resources and time. The paradox here is that technological transformation happens firstly in people’s minds (and respectively in the organization) and only then can spread out on a technical level.
This leads us to the second issue with digital transformation - people, quite naturally, are afraid of it. And there is a good reason why! Every day, we are bombarded by terrible news of hacker attacks, data theft, elections sabotages, and that's just the top of the iceberg. The truth is that technology is just a tool – like a fork or a car. We can’t blame the technology that our children are communicating less with each other, or that our back hurts us from looking at the screen of our phone for hours. When we take full responsibility for how we use technology then we realize that we have the power to use it in our own advantage instead of being under its influence.The organizational resistance that often occurs when a company decides to implement a new system or to initiate some digitization process is largely due to employees' fear that this system will replace or threaten them in some way. It is the consultants’ duty to make sure that the perception of the digital transformation is positive and that technology is seen as something that adds value to the organization and isn’t a thread.
Given these issues, how do we successfully manage the process of digitization in our organization? Whether you are just starting out with technology or you have already developed good practices, we would like to share a few tips from our experience as consultants in many companies.
1. Don’t wait too long
Don’t fool yourself – digitalization isn’t going anywhere. According to a survey, in the next 10 years, we are expecting technological advances at a much greater pace then in previous decades. , that will have an impact in every aspect of our lives. Things like virtual reality, self-driving cars, and nanotechnology in our clothes might seem like scenes from a sci-fi movie, but they're all real. But even if you are not a high-tech company, it is certain that your business is now in need of technological improvement, whether in your staff selection processes, manufacturing processes, customer management or marketing. Digitization doesn’t mean excluding the human factor, on the contrary, technology makes people more empowered and reduces the possibility of human errors, saving time and costs. The earlier a business realizes that the world is changing and this change won’t stop, the more competitive advantage it has and the better it is equipped to take care of its employees, customers and partners.
2. Don’t do it all in once
This advice is applicable even if you have the resources, the time and the need. Let's say you need digitization in all areas of your business. And you rush to digitize everything right away. If you've decided to implement five software systems at the same time, and at the same time migrate all your marketing to a digital platform, you can be sure that you will find yourself with more problems than solutions. Change is a process made up of steps that can’t be skipped. Think about what is the most pressing technological need for your business and start from there.Another solution is to find a system that can solve a lot of problems, so you can save costs on implementing several separate ones. For example, if you are a logistics company, it is important for you to have good communication with all partners that work with you and it needs to be centralized and traceable (for example, with automation of marketing communications). At the same time, you want to improve your digital marketing and find new leads through more accurate tracking of your site activities and people's behavior (email opens, specific web pages visits, completing a contact form). Instead of connecting to two different agencies or using 3 different (and mutually unintegrated) platforms, you can do all of this with a marketing automation solution.
3. Prepare your people
As we said earlier, digital transformation begins with the transformation of people's perceptions and mindsets. If the main people who will use the system see it as something threatening, they won’t be eager to utilize it in the best way. If the decision-makers see the system or the digital innovation as just another cost, and not as something that has the power to improve their company, successful digitalization is doomed. Keep in mind that technology is only a tool. It has no magic power to change the entire organizations if people in them don’t see the benefits of it.There are different ways to prepare for such a change, but your best move is to initiate a survey among the employees - what do they need, what can be improved, what they like in their present form? Based on their responses you can start a discussion about their concerns, their thoughts about what’s about to be be implemented or whether there is a need for digitization. Building on this stable foundation, you can upgrade and make more meaningful changes.
4. Measure and improve
The beauty of digital technologies is that they are changing and evolving in line with market and consumer needs. So, you have to look for a system that has regular updates (several times a year) to make sure you're working with the latest and greatest version, and that the product company keeps up with digital innovations. Don’t forget to measure how much time and money you save after introducing a new technology innovation in your company - for example, how the process of finding new staff or finding a new client has improved The systems are there to serve you!
5. Technology is not everything!
As we have already mentioned, digital technologies are just a way of achieving your business goals. But of course, they are not the answer to everything. It's important for you to be aware where your company is and where do you want it to be. To make that decision you don’t technology but people who can make technology work in an optimal and successfull way.
Need advice? Contact us!
Would you like to receive news and updates from us? No spam, no hassle. Please sign up for our newsletter here.