8 Important Tips on Digital Transformation
Digital transformation projects shape tomorrow’s businesses. The faster an organization adapts to change or enters new and emerging markets, the more it secures its success. And, in the digital era, speaking digitally is a catalyst, if not essential.
Although there has always been a lot of hype around digital transformation, there are still quite a lot of misconceptions about it. Digital transformation is a lot more than replacing paper with digital equivalents, as people perceived it a long time ago when it all started. And the term itself is only one component of its own definition. One of the first and most critical parts of digital transformation is redesigning processes through the lens of a digital mindset.
Long story short, below is a compiled list of helpful tips for any digital transformation journey.
1. No recipes, no checklists
Even though there are common building blocks and solutions that fit into common business units, every digital transformation project is as unique as the organization to which it’s applied. Same business units (name them HR, Purchasing, Sales, or Finance) differ from business to business within the same industry, as do people too. So, a successful application of digital transformation to one business may not be as successful if the same solutions are applied to another as-is.
2. Envision, digitally
A goal can be set as far as its conceiver has envisioned. So start fresh with a blank document, note tab, piece of paper, or whatever. Don’t try to base the transformation strategy on the existing workflows; neither start from the technology side. Instead, imagine how people in each department could work with the least amount of effort and spend the least amount of time to produce the maximum possible outcome using IT and AI solutions. What you will imagine is the truly transformative strategy, and that’s where you should set your transformation goals.
3. Utilize Artificial Intelligence, wherever possible
Digital Transformation projects started being a buzzword (and a necessity) a long time ago. For AI, on the other hand, it has only been a few years since it opened its doors to massive adaptation, thanks to how easily it can be applied nowadays to a wide range of business functions. For a truly effective digital transformation, it’s best to know well the various automation solutions that AI can bring to the table. From customer-facing support chatbots to data analysis, document processing, and key data extraction & transformation, AI can streamline tens or hundreds of time-consuming tasks within an organization.
A digital transformation powered by AI can be many times more efficient than one that is not. Soon enough, a digital transformation that doesn’t include AI solutions will no longer be considered a transformation.
4. Embrace adaptability
Expect constant change. Business and technology are evolving rapidly. Choose solutions that are adaptable and allow you to adjust or change workflows on demand as business needs change. Digital transformation is a continuous process; still, it must be built on solid foundations that can adapt and last over time.
5. Unify the infrastructure as much as possible
It’s nearly impossible to have a single system manage everything. Splitting operations into many different subsystems, on the other hand, means that cross-departmental functions may suffer or employees may have to use different applications for each task. And that is not the level of efficiency that digital transformation should strive for.
Many systems provide APIs to communicate with other systems or notify them on certain occasions, thanks to which there can be ways to apply automation. Still, as systems and their APIs evolve, integrations get more error-prone and will eventually expose operations to risk if there’s no constant effort in maintaining and updating the integration.
As a digital transformation strategist, it’s in your hands to evaluate the available options and select the solution(s) that can unify operations with the fewest customizations and external dependencies. If the number of integrations cannot be reduced to a satisfying level, it indicates that the business requirements are so unique that a custom software solution is more appropriate and more holistic as an approach to achieving the efficiency you seek.
6. Don’t over-rely on Cloud services
Cloud computing has been a trend for almost two decades. The solutions it provides to IT managers and the overall cost savings from having to maintain internal IT infrastructures helped a lot in its spread and commercial use. Everything, however, has to be balanced. Internet connectivity and high network speeds and bandwidths nowadays are taken for granted, but for some industries, such as healthcare, it would be more worry-free to know that your mission-critical systems have no major dependencies outside your internal infrastructure.
Also, a Cloud service means that all data is transmitted over the Internet and stored on public-facing servers. If your data is highly sensitive, this can be a security matter.
7. Utilize custom software development
Your ERP implementation may well cover the digital transformation plans at your core business units. Still, every organization is unique, and ERPs cannot meet every need in your overall operations. This is where you can identify gaps in your transformation strategy, develop a custom software solution, and apply digitization and automation to areas where your ERP cannot reach or cannot fit the way you envisioned.
Also, a custom software solution is far more efficient than trying to bridge too many different solutions together. The more subsystems you rely on, the more complex your digital transformation becomes, and the greater the risk to your day-to-day operations.
8. Train employees for the digital change
Employees can make or break your digital transformation strategy, no matter how good it is. Sometimes, it can turn out to be way harder to change people’s habits in the workplace than it is to digitize their work. So, better prepare to break resistance by cultivating change as early as possible. Elevate their awareness of the current trends and how technological advancements are used in the industry, develop their skills to leverage digital technologies, and prepare them adequately for the switch.
Employee training is just as critical as the other steps of digital transformation. Digital transformation does also transform the way people think and solve problems in the workplace.
These are 8 highlights we find essential for any digital transformation project, and which can be pitfalls if not handled with care or taken into consideration.
Should you start your digital transformation journey, we can guide and help you to analyze workflows, identify areas of improvement, and digitize operations. With our expertise in both enterprise software development and IT services, we can be very valuable and complement your digital transformation efforts with customized automations, system integrations, AI, IoT and other tailor-made solutions.