Digital Transformation Roadmap

Digital Transformation Roadmap

Digital transformation is a stepwise process that seeks to refine legacy business processes by leveraging proven and emerging technologies. These technology-induced initiatives are designed, ideally, to address specific opportunities and challenges. In some cases, the end result may be an entirely new business model, but more commonly, digital transformation is comprised of incremental business process improvements (projects) that add value to customer relationships and/or improve operational efficiency.

As stated in a recent Entrepreneur Magazine article, “Digital transformation isn’t some vague buzzword. For small businesses, digital transformation includes all the little steps forward that add up to massive cost savings, happier customers and improved prospects.”

The Digital Transformation Roadmap: Have it Your Way

Digital transformation sits at the intersection of a business’s overall strategy and the technology investments made by the organization to achieve underlying strategic objectives. These efforts, both small and large, are fundamental to organizational structure, leadership team skills and development; and the sustainable competitiveness of the business.

Solutions are not “one-size-fits-all,” but should be tailored to the unique requirements of each business. In fact, digital transformation is the starting point for development of a winning strategy. This can best be understood and implemented using the following structure:

Strategy/Business Model – The organizational structure and business model impact of smart products, as-a-service revenue, digital partners and other strategic impacts of digital transformation must be the starting point for a company’s digital transformation roadmap. Financial systems, analytics, ERP and other business-wide decisions are driven by these core requirements.

Digital Marketing, Sales & Customer Services – Leveraging the power of digital marketing techniques, sales pipeline/CRM optimization technologies, sales portals, customer portals, virtual offices, and other powerful tools can drive growth and help an organization achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction.

HR/Organizational Development – HR information systems automate repetitive tasks and enable employee self-service. Collaboration, productivity and online training tools improve organizational performance, creating a competitive culture and an engaged workforce.

IT & CyberSecurity – Selecting the optimum IT infrastructure (on premise, cloud, or hybrid); securing data, enabling enterprise mobility and supporting user productivity are all driven by technology decisions.

Advanced Technologies – Strategically applying advanced technologies such as iIOT, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, 3D printing and many others to business functions, operations and engineering can be high impact investments.

In Summary …

Similar to the disruptive impacts the Internet had created by the mid 2000’s, digital transformation technologies have become a major driving force for B2B small business growth and profitability. Early adopters faced challenges, but also gained a competitive advantage over those less inclined to change.

Successful SMBs begin with a digital transformation roadmap; a plan that is aligned with the organization’s overall strategic direction, and thoughtfully divided into incremental, affordable projects. This step-by-step approach helps the management team prioritize technology investments and stay focused on solving real-world issues.

SMB Digital Transformation: Competitiveness and Valuation Driver

SMB Digital Transformation

Historically, small businesses have competed successfully with larger competitors by being quicker, more productive and more responsive to customer needs … leading to higher customer satisfaction levels and retention rates. More recently, cost reductions in information and communication technologies have allowed small businesses to erase a once imposing challenge — the technical superiority of larger businesses with deeper IT pockets.

SMB Digital Transformation: Step-By-Step

Unfortunately, many small businesses have failed to recognize recent trends in technology … including the trend toward digital transformation of key business processes. Innovation and adaptation — once friendly factors for SMBs — now threatens the very existence of those who fail to respond. Big businesses are reacting en masse, gaining ground in areas once reserved for their smaller, more “nimble” competitors. Why? Because they — along with a few smaller, more “tech savvy” competitors — understand the intrinsic value of digital processes (lower costs, faster response times, improved customer loyalty). They also understand the direct impact these improvements can have on financial performance and market value.

Almost every business process can be optimized by structuring, simplifying and automating parts or all of its workflow. These processes include IT and cybersecurity management, marketing, sales, customer support, HR management, services delivery and operations. In future blog posts we’ll discuss specific examples of SMB digital transformation initiatives applied to key business functions, as well as emerging business models that can help SMBs retain or reclaim their historic advantages. In the mean time, the best way to fully understand the potential impact of digital transformation is to recognize the ten most important characteristics of a digitally-transformed process:

1. Stickiness (better customer experience)
2. Increased availability (24/7/365 service/support)
3. Self-service enhancement (DIY/decision-support tools)
4. Improved workforce utilization – (efficiency improvements within a given function)
5. Cross-function collaboration (connected teams, coordinated response to problems/opportunities)
6. External partner integration (connected partners/suppliers/processes/data)
7. Knowledge management (embedded/automated knowledge capture and sharing)
8. Real-time intelligence (via bolt on BI/analytics/sensors, etc.)
9. Streamlined workflows (automation of repetitive tasks)
10. On-demand delivery – (speed/cost benefits)

In Summary …

SMB digital transformation initiatives leverage the characteristic advantages of individual digital processes to deliver decisive speed, cost and customer satisfaction benefits vs legacy business methods. These advantages drop straight to the bottom line, improving profitability and increasing market value. Big business is catching on fast; and the success of smaller competitors, in terms of competitiveness and business valuation, will quickly follow suit.