“...the profound transformation of business and organizational activities, processes, competencies, and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of a mix of digital technologies and their accelerating impact across society in a strategic and prioritized way, with present and future shifts in mind.”
Janice Miller, director of leadership programs and product management at Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning, on the other hand, says:
“A lot of people believe the term digital transformation is interchangeable with technology. It does, of course, include technology, but with emerging digital capabilities affecting all areas of the business, it’s important to remember that the transformation is just as much about leadership as it is about the technology itself.”
So How Can We Summarize Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is comprehensive and holistic. It covers a huge number of processes, interactions, transactions, technological evolutions, changes, internal and external factors, industries, and so forth.
Digital transformation is an ongoing journey. Change takes time, especially a profound change that influences all aspects of a business.
Digital transformation requires the right leadership and people. Driving successful digital change is often more about the people involved and affected by it than it is about the technology.
Digital transformation is NOT just about technology. Successful digital transformations do not begin with technology. Instead, they focus on overhauling the organization with a customer-focused goal in mind.
While this may seem straightforward, the devil is in the detail.
Many businesses are on the path to digital transformation but have a ways to go.
What’s Standing in the Way of Digital Transformation?
This is all while 63% of businesses plan to improve their ‘online customer experience’ this year and only 26% are ‘completely ready’ to execute digital strategies. (Accenture Digital).
You may assume there is a wealth of digital talent out there, but in reality, being familiar with using technology does not equate to having the skills and knowledge needed to leverage it and apply digital thinking in business.
While upskilling and training can go a long way for enabling new skills, the problem is, it isn’t easy to define what skills are most needed for digital transformation.
Long-term, companies must look to foster a digital culture that encourages continuous learning or get left behind.
They must have a vision for remaining at the forefront of digital practices and processes, regardless of what industry they are in.
As you would with any part of your business, you need to clarify a vision, set goals to reach it, and give your whole team a purpose. Without strategy and purpose behind your digital transformation, you may have been able to keep your head above water but don’t count on it much longer.
There are always going to be challenges to any large-scale change initiative, and that’s to be expected, but there's little question that coordinated efforts across an enterprise towards consistency, shared planning, economies of scale, and a common data model can lead to moving faster and producing better results.
What Does It Mean For You?
Digital transformation is essential for any business looking to grow and stay ahead of the competition in today’s market because let’s face it, your customers have higher expectations and demand a more seamless digital experience than ever before.
Without it, your business will not thrive, and dare we say it, may not even survive.
With a mindset of continuous improvement and innovation, all of the benefits of a digital transformation are within reach. Just be sure to tackle the challenges as they come and do your best to prepare in advance.
Digital transformation comes with a host of high-level benefits including:
Digitalization of Business Operations
Greater Resource Management
Greater Customer Insights
Better Customer Experience
Creation of Digital Products and Services
Opening the Door to Globalization
Encourages (Easier) Collaboration Across Departments
Increases Agility and Innovation
Fosters a Digital Culture
Introduces a New Level of Transparency
However, there are two key benefits that stand out for sales teams:
1. Increased Transparency
Digital transformation has paved the way for big data analytics to provide enterprises with real-time information and greater visibility and insights into its operations, especially the performance of its people and assets.
For sales managers, for example, Viabl (an add-on for Salesforce and SugarCRM) offers a clear depiction of a sales pipeline and, in turn, increased visibility into the day-to-day of those on their team.
Open communication and access to this information fosters trust and helps make the work environment less hierarchical and siloed. Developing a shared mindset helps eliminate an “us vs. them” mentality and improves teamwork.
For example, digitizing your lead generation efforts (like many inbound organizations) makes both sales and marketing more effective. Sales gets a list of leads and marketing is able to use the lead data generated to draw insights and make decisions about the targeted audience.
A digital technology, like your CRM, allows you to track historical client data related to interactions, interests, and engagements.
You can analyze and study customer-related data based on a customers’ previous interactions with your company and personalize their experience accordingly.
Recommends products based on their past purchases.
Digital transformation makes this possible.
Digital transformation has opened the door for increased transparency and opportunities for collaboration across teams of all kinds, but especially sales.
When everyone has access to useful information, it becomes easier to work toward goals and people tend to feel like their actions matter. Increased productivity and efficiency, along with the ease and transparency provided by tools that you can make available to your clients, will improve the overall team and customer experience.
Embrace these changes and stay agile as the transformation is just beginning.