Because of the crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, digital transformation has become an imperative for businesses. However, most business leaders only had limited understanding of it and lack the time to know more about it. The Enterprisers Project, for example, observed that the “digital transformation” has been so widely used that it has become unhelpful. Thus, the question remains: What exactly is digital transformation?
The urgency of digital transformation
Pre-pandemic, there were already slow builds of digital roadmaps in some forward-thinking businesses. Some were already into AI and machine learning, for example. Some, in fact, were already using a hybrid of traditional and digital processes in some of their business operations. And then there were already, of course, businesses with online and social media presence. The digital transformation imperative during the pandemic accelerated the builds, improved the hybrid models, and required businesses to have an online presence. Now, can these already be called “digital transformation”? Well, not exactly. At least, not yet.
For the moment, digital transformation seems to be a dark cloud hovering on our line of sight. Some businesses are already “in different places on the road to digital transformation,” as The Enterprisers Project would have it. Some are yet to get on such a road. Now, as there are different kinds of businesses, there are also different ways of defining digital transformation. Whatever it means specifically for your business, if you’re not on the road yet to digital transformation, you really need to start now. A recent Harvard Business Review article says, “the risk is no longer merely getting left behind, but being eliminated altogether.”
Defining Digital Transformation
Generally, there are two aspects that combine for a business to realize, and thus define, its digital transformation strategy. First is integrating digital technology into all areas of the business. This would include fundamental changes in business operations and in the way the business delivers value to customers. Having an online and social media presence or a digital marketing strategy, therefore, is not yet digital transformation. The second is updating company culture to adapt to a digital mindset. Streamlining had been the go-to quick fix for adaptation, leaving the “digital” tasks, with evaluation metrics, to the IT department. What digital transformation requires, on the other hand, is for all departments to be in sync so that “digital” becomes part of all areas of the business.
Essentially, therefore, digital transformation in business means integrating digital technology at end-to-end of the business value chain, affecting changes in operations, company culture, and delivery of value to customers.
Challenges and opportunities
A digital front-end is not enough. An IT department is not enough. And evaluating results at a project-level view could provide confusing results whether the shift to digital was a success.
You must look at metrics in evaluating the impact and results of your company’s digital transformation from a holistic view. Future-proofing your business through such transformation also means a continuous improvement of all business aspects. The business as a whole must be able to ride the waves of the continuous and fast-paced digital progress.
Along the road of digital transformation, there are also concerns businesses must navigate through, such as cybersecurity, transparency, and accountability. Being able to address those, however, is key to securing brand stability and reputation that could go a long way.
There is still so much to learn regarding digital transition, but there is so little time. Businesses could consider partnering with companies who are focused on developing those kinds of expertise. Internal capabilities, for example, could be complemented with outsourced skills and talents. There are already a lot of business process outsourcing companies (BPOs) out there who could help. The new business ecosystem encourages partnerships in order to access third-party skills, thereby unlocking endless opportunities and breaking into new markets.
Your business post-pandemic
The earlier mentioned Harvard Business Review article also reminds us that “digital transformation isn’t about innovation.” Rather, “it’s about achieving better business outcomes.”
Digital transformation isn’t a tall order as requiring businesses to come up with innovations or any digital innovation. It simply means adapting to innovations, making use of them to achieve desired business outcomes in an already digital world. Now, you wouldn’t want to lag behind on the road to digital transformation. Post-pandemic, the hybrid of physical and digital is here to stay－and the road leads further into a metaverse.
If you need help going digital, beefing up your online presence, or getting access to tools and strategies that are right for you, we, at StratAccess, are here for you.
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