Is digital transformation necessary? We hear plenty of stories each month about more traditional companies ending up in administration, and some of the main factors can often be a lack of ability to keep up with what customers want in today’s society. Instead, companies that utilise digital channels to provide engaging online experiences are winning customers all the time. We think that these stories shouldn’t be taken just as a warning to existing businesses, but instead as a visible example of the amount of opportunity out there today.
Having a presence online is an important thing for any company to be investing in right now. People are finding you (or trying to find you!) through online channels, even if your core business isn’t built around digital platforms. Having a brand and messaging that works well on these mediums is a good bet for just about any type of company in 2020.
Marketing and beyond
Digital marketing is an important aspect of a company today, and it needn’t be a huge overhaul to an existing, more traditional, marketing strategy. The main thing is that you are able to be found amongst competitors online, and also that your products or services are appealing when stacked directly against those competitors that may favour an “online-first” approach.
Beyond traditional online marketing and presence, there’s a world of opportunity for companies to use digital technologies to branch out with their services and offerings. From providing “self-service” interfaces to creating engaging virtual reality experiences, thinking creatively about what might align well with your core business could open doors to new customers.
Small steps to success
When evaluating your current digital touchpoints and presence, and thinking about implementing a more cohesive strategy, it can seem overwhelming. Just like everything else in business, it’s important to break a long-term strategy down into steps so that it’s cost-effective and implemented appropriately. Thankfully, there are some small steps which can help start your business off in the right direction.
Understand your drivers for transformation
Whilst the very nature of digital transformation can be somewhat ambiguous and exploratory, it’s important to understand what you’re trying to achieve with any investment of time and money. You will already likely have a strong core direction and mission for your company, and this can be a key starting point in creating a set of core goals that are going to underpin any transformational work.
Making any objectives as measurable as possible will also help in determining exactly what’s working, and what’s not. Having clear objectives such as “increase our monthly sales revenue by 10% by April” will enable you to measure exactly how any changes are working towards it.
Using the SMART criteria can help with setting good goals that will set you up for success.
Deciding on a metric to measure success with can be a little difficult for some companies, such as charities, initially. Goals may not be linked to something as simple as “income”, or even “donations”, but instead on things that are more intangible, such as “awareness”. It’s imperative to deeply understand the organisation’s mission in order to properly determine a good metric, which may end up being a combination of many factors.
Applying a scientific approach to driving engagement can be a strong backbone in evolving a digital strategy.
Carve out time for curiosity
Within the ambiguous and ever-complex digital landscape, using experimentation as a way to find what works for your business is a useful strategy. For some, when the transformation is implemented as a secondary priority, the “day-to-day” tasks end up taking so much time that spending time on things like creative exploration gets pushed to the bottom of the pile.
It’s important to understand the longer-term benefits of this work and hold yourself and your team accountable for spending time on these more strategic things. Block out time once a week, or once a month to actually progress items on your digital plan.
Getting all of the relevant people “bought-in” with the change is also a useful factor to think about. Having a team, or indeed, the whole organisation excited about exploring new opportunities will develop a culture of change that will last long after the inception of the project.
Apply agile principals
Popularised by the software industry, agile is a set of principals built around acknowledging the need to change direction and implementation often to meet the needs of rapidly changing landscapes. Literally, it’s the notion that a company needs to be able to move and change quickly and easily. In practice, this often means favouring working iteratively towards a set goal, rather than implementing detailed and rigid plans or programmes.
Once your measurable goals for digital transformation have been set, think about applying some limited structure to how you go about meeting them. Testing any plans early and often will give you a sense of what’s going to work, and what won’t. By applying a framework around it, and being somewhat scientific, we either get fantastic results, or learn and iterate.
Solve problems creatively
Several different tools and frameworks can be applied to help your team through the process of thinking creatively. This is an important part of any digital transformation, and is especially key when thinking about applying it to your unique company.
Design Thinking, for example, is one tool that helps us to step back from the technologies and specifics, and think first about the human element. Our transformational goals are most likely to be ultimately be met by real humans (customers!), and utilising this tool can be a useful way to get results.
Getting some external opinions, expertise and help can also be a very valuable investment at this stage.
We hear stories every week about how companies need to be active within digital. But we actually think that alongside this, there is now more opportunity than ever to find alternative avenues to more customers, revenue, and to find ways to differentiate. It’s also getting less expensive all the time to get underway with digital products and utilising technology to aid your core goals.
By applying a constant ‘curiosity’, you’ll soon see leaps forward in your company’s transformation efforts. And finally, just remember that it’s an evolution, not a revolution.