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.