Digital transformation was once viewed as an aspirational goal for companies that performed well and could afford to dedicate resources to futuristic initiatives. But in light of recent global events, it’s clear that this is no longer just a nice to have. Companies need a long-term digital transformation strategy if they hope to survive in a world that is barreling towards a digital-first environment.
Today’s customer demands are impossible to meet without technologies that enable accessibility and convenience. Any organization with remote employees – as many now are due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are expected to remain long-term – cannot operate on a daily basis without transitioning to digital platforms.
Digital transformation is not a linear process; by its very nature, it involves constantly adapting to new practices, needs, and environments. If your company hasn’t a strategy yet, it isn’t too late to start. But before you begin, you should first understand the role of digital transformation in business.
What is digital transformation?
The term “digital transformation” has been a trending topic for years; Google search data shows a steady climb in related web traffic beginning around 2015. It’s often used to describe any type of digitization, a universal phenomenon that exists in every area of daily life from communication to e-commerce. In a business setting, however, digital transformation takes on a more specific meaning, one that is often misunderstood due to its broad applications elsewhere.
Gartner’s digital transformation definition as it applies to business is “the process of exploiting digital technologies and supporting capabilities to create a robust new digital business model.” It goes much deeper than the technologies themselves. It also encompasses the seismic shifts that must occur in the corporate environment to adapt to digital advancements.
Why digital transformation strategies fail
According to the most recent data from McKinsey, fewer than one in six digital transformation initiatives succeed. Why is this? Unfortunately, there’s no single answer. Failure can happen for many reasons: poor communication, shortcomings among leadership, ineffective company structure, and of course failure of the technologies themselves. Bringing all of these forces together simultaneously is extremely challenging and requires exceptional planning, execution, and follow-through.
But as companies face higher stakes surrounding the success of their digital transformation strategy, the technologies available are becoming better equipped to facilitate adoption. Looking into the future of workplace technology, we’re seeing a shift towards streamlined solutions that package everything you need for your daily workflow into a single interface. Not only does this drive efficiency and improve user experience, but it also eliminates some of the potential pitfalls in the digital transformation process.
5 accelerators for digital transformation in business
The technology you use in your digital transformation strategy can either make or break its overall success. These five accelerators can be used as a competitive advantage to achieve long-term stability in a rapidly changing world.
1. The digital workplace
Digital workplaces are the cornerstone of digital transformation, setting up a virtual ecosystem in which companies can realign for the future and launch subsequent initiatives. In fact, most of the following accelerators on this list depend on an existing digital workplace as a foundational platform.
Implementing a digital workplace removes the physical barriers to change, closing communication gaps, and increasing productivity. It also opens up the possibility of recruiting global talent, a major advantage that companies will want to have as more and more of the workforce goes remote. From an external standpoint, a digital workplace is the only way to keep up with customer demands for convenience that only continue to rise over time.
In 2020, all organizations have some form of digital workplace whether they realize it or not. But for those that wish to succeed in digital transformation, the digital workplace needs to be much more than a haphazard collection of tools. Maximum efficiency can only be reached if each component of the digital workplace functions cohesively through integrations and automation.
Intranets are a core component of the digital workplace and a key facilitator of digital transformation. Your intranet is the interface through which employees tap into the digital resources available to them, receive vital information, and collaborate with one another.
Even if your company has used an intranet for years or decades, rethinking the role your intranet plays in the workplace is a necessary step. Modern platforms like Powell 365 take the concept of an intranet far beyond the technology itself with the introduction of features like customization, multi-device accessibility, content management, and automation. Not only do these new intranets give you the tools you need for digital transformation, but they also put you in control over the process.
3. Collaborative spaces
Many of the forces that drive digital transformation – innovation, mobility, knowledge, and skills – are all fostered in collaborative environments. No, we’re not talking about coworking. These spaces exist virtually but are just as good at facilitating collaboration as a meeting room (if not better).
Collaborative spaces are made possible by several digital communication tools that include:
- Social intranets
- Messaging platforms
According to Microsoft, companies that are successful in creating a collaborative culture are more agile and can better respond to changing demands, delivering new products and services faster than competitors.
4. Next-generation training
Your digital transformation strategy will be doomed to fail from the start if you can’t get employees’ buy-in. One of the best ways to do this is through training, but not necessarily in the sense you might think. Traditional training programs are no longer the only way to spread skills and information across the organization. New technologies allow leaders to build training into everyday activities by integrating it into the digital workplace.
Not sure where to start? Try looking at your digital workplace analytics to see how employees use technologies on a daily basis and collect feedback on where they feel a need for improvement. From there, you’ll be able to identify specific areas where training could be useful and add value without detracting from the employee experience.
Leveraging IoT technologies is a logical next step for companies that embark on digital transformation initiatives, but not all organizations approach the transition with the right mindset. According to Wharton, IoT-based digital transformation needs to start with data, and it’s this data that allows companies to get closer to their customers and become more responsive to their needs. In addition to planning IoT products, think critically about how you will use the data from those devices to further the transformation process, and enable future development.
Digital transformation technologies are only the first step
There is no single right way to approach digital transformation. But if experts agree on one thing, it’s that culture is absolutely vital in any type of digital change. According to BCG, companies that focus on culture are five times more likely to succeed in digital transformation. In fact, they have greater success than those that prioritize investment in digital initiatives.
In a digital culture, employees should be encouraged to develop new solutions by collaborating both internally and with customers. They should be empowered to make decisions and act without being held back by hierarchies and red tape. And they should be given an equal voice in conversations regardless of their individual status, a hallmark of an inclusive culture.
Implementing a digital transformation strategy with Powell Software
Is your current digital ecosystem made up of not only the technologies but the necessary processes and tools to accelerate digital transformation? Powell Software’s digital workplace and intranet solutions are enabled to support every step of the digital transformation process with collaboration, governance, key metrics, and more. Learn more by scheduling a demo today.