Digital transformation should be considered a priority as it is increasingly becoming essential for the future success and profitability of your company. Statista projects that by 2023, over half of global GDP will be generated by businesses that have undergone a digital transformation.
By that same time, projections indicate that global spending on digital transformation will total more than 2 trillion USD. Your actions in 2020 and the decisions you make in 2021 could dramatically shape the future of your business. So how do you prioritize digital transformation?
The benefits of digital transformation are better experienced than simply talked about. Those who believe most strongly in this concept have typically had an experience that made them realize they simply could not continue operating in the same way. Companies that utilize the agile process are accustomed to constantly refining and adapting, as they allow the process to be the guide within the structure that has been established. These six steps will help your business prepare to undergo a digital transformation, setting your development project down a path toward success.
1. Research and Set a Goal
Goal-setting for your business should be personal and not arbitrary. A good place to start is to evaluate your competitors and the companies you would want to emulate. Figure out what sets them apart and discern what you offer to the market. You don’t have to get pigeonholed in your own industry; some of the best innovators crossed industry lines to rethink the way we operate. Regardless of the industry, write down what you like most about those companies and what makes them successful.
The status quo will become your enemy as contentment often holds businesses back. Define what success means for your business and consider what future possibilities excite you most. From there, you can address the challenges that you are experiencing and set goals that will guide your digital transformation. When you consider the unique benefits that you offer in your market, you can determine which parts of your business you would like to expand and which parts could benefit from a digital transformation.
2. Put Your Data to Work
Some companies don’t fully realize that one of their most valuable resources is their data. While they may understand the importance at a fundamental level, the ways in which their data is actually handled may not always reflect this belief. If this is the case, how can businesses use their data more effectively?
Pay attention to what is happening in your industry. Markets are ever evolving and your goal should be to be at the front of the pack. Industry trends will inform and guide you, but simply following them will only make you feel like you are constantly just trying to keep up. Challenge the process, take a proactive approach and develop a strategy to get ahead. Also realize that companies that undergo digital transformations won’t blindly follow all the current trends. Evaluate them wisely before making decisions that will affect the future of your company.
Often, leveraging your data starts with the way this information is stored and organized. 7T has long stressed the importance of data-driven decision making — and easy access to your data and the data in your industry is the first step. Cloud computing has become a cost-effective, adaptive data storage option that opens up opportunities for advanced analytics and reporting. Next, evaluate the tools that you utilize. For the businesses we work with, we recommend Snowflake Cloud Data Platform due to the cost, services offered and ease of use. As part of your digital transformation, Snowflake can operate in tandem with a custom software solution or even be integrated into your next development project.
3. Identify Your Need and Your Why
A digital transformation is more than just taking your business to the next level. Instead, it involves a fundamental shift in your company culture and operations. Suddenly, you are putting your systems to work for you, rather than simply relying upon them and feeling constrained by their limited capabilities. Clients come to 7T when they realize that they simply cannot grow or scale anymore because they are tied down by their current systems. They recognize that legacy systems have served a purpose and have brought them this far, but the next step involves breaking free from these constraints. Some are tired of working across disparate platforms that could be replaced or tied together by a central software solution such as a CRM portal or ERP platform.
Motivations aren’t always negative, however. Other companies choose to undergo a digital transformation in order to increase profits, connect with their customers more effectively, improve the management of their teams or to discover new insights by leveraging their data. Often, it is a combination of these reasons that drive businesses to undergo a digital transformation. Innovation is exciting and empowering, giving businesses new energy and life because they have been told that success is possible.
4. Plan for the Future
What if we told you that digital transformations don’t just occur in times of prosperity? It may seem from the outside that digital transformation is only possible for businesses who are operating with large surplus revenues. To say that 2020 brought new challenges for businesses is a vast understatement. This year, businesses were cutting down spending in whatever areas they could to make ends meet. For businesses fortunate enough to stay afloat throughout the pandemic, experts repeatedly stated that this was a critical time to invest money into their business and urged them not to cut budgets wherever possible. What might save money in the short term could prove to be a detrimental decision to the future growth or viability of the company. It is critical whenever possible to balance addressing immediate challenges with future ones.
Developing a vision and planning for the long term will require certain sacrifices and resources in the present, but will bring success and help to prevent future challenges. It is rarely sufficient to settle for “good enough” and businesses often end up spending more money in the long term fixing temporary “fixes.” The challenges of a remote working environment was a wake up call for businesses who weren’t prepared or set up to integrate technology into their operational processes. These challenges have forced many to adapt and accommodate, reinforcing the idea that innovation is a necessary tool for survival, rather than something to be taken for granted.
Thankfully, some clients are able to foresee a problem and look to start their digital transformation a year or even a few years in advance. This time is crucial as it allows businesses to pause and truly evaluate their processes, challenges and hopes for their digital transformation. You don’t have to wait to begin crafting and optimizing your digital strategy; projections are your ally. Determine the projected growth of your company and then explore the possibilities that a digital transformation could offer you. Establishing an ROI for your digital transformation project is essential to justify the necessity of its occurrence.
5. Embrace Digital Transformation on a Company-Wide Level
“Software innovation, like almost every other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people, and to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs.” -Bill Gates
Perhaps the most important population that will empower or hinder the success of your digital transformation is the employees within your organization. A certain level of transparency is critical. While the exact approach will depend on your business, empower your workforce to have a personal investment in your new initiatives and be open to their feedback.
As employees at all levels see different parts of the day-to-day operations of your company, they can provide key insight into what features would be most helpful in a software platform or data solution. Google fosters a culture of innovation within their company, encouraging creativity that has contributed to their success and led them to solve complex business challenges. Part of fostering personal ownership in the mission is transparency about the challenges that your business is facing. By providing a forum for your employees to brainstorm and offer creative solutions, they will come back with ideas that you may never have considered.
The story of President JFK speaking with a janitor at NASA is a popular but effective example of why every person in your company should know your mission and be aligned with the goals. They must also know the why of your business. As the story goes, when JFK stopped the man to introduce himself and ask what he was doing, the janitor replied that he was helping to put a man on the moon. When you understand the purpose of your company and the services you offer, you can share that vision with your employees and motivate them to embrace and work toward that goal as well. Effective leaders inspire others and help to bring meaning into the work.
6. Start Your Digital Transformation
Digital transformation involves embracing innovation as a mindset. When you start adopting and encouraging innovation in your business, you will quickly start to see improvements and the success that it brings. When discussing a development project, we see clients become motivated and empowered to grow their business. This reaction shifts their mindset so that they begin thinking in new ways. They quickly learn to recognize the limits we place on ourselves, thinking more critically and asking better questions.
Digital transformation reminds us why we are in the business sector in the first place. The opportunity to do something well and make a mark in your industry is not one to pass up. It is possible to love what you do and be more profitable than you thought possible. In the normal trudge of day to day business, when you finally stop to look up, you’ll notice who else has looked up too. These are the innovators, the ones who will lead and guide their industries in the years to come.
Work with 7T, a Leading Software Development Company
If you’re ready for a digital transformation but don’t know where to begin, 7T offers software consulting to businesses through our Foundation Program, a 3-6 week process designed to provide an expert digital transformation strategy and implementation plan for prospective clients. We also offer phased development services for projects ranging from mobile apps and cloud integrations to custom software projects such as CRM or ERP platforms. We’ll help you become a tech company, regardless of your industry. To get started, fill out the form below or contact 7T today.