Are you ready for digital transformation? While most business leaders believe digitizing their offerings and practices is essential for staying competitive in an increasingly technologically savvy world, few companies are actually prepared to take the plunge. This lack of preparedness is often due to misunderstanding what it takes to truly transform.
When you know what you need to embark on your digital transformation journey, you can do so with confidence that your company will do well. This digital transformation pillars list explains the critical components and provides examples of digital transformation pillars for lasting success.
Why does digital transformation matter?
Digital transformation has become a bit of a buzzword lately, but it’s much more than the topic of the day. It’s now an essential mission companies need to take to stay afloat in the rapidly changing business landscape.
Digital transformation can improve your company’s operations in many ways when implemented correctly. Some of the benefits your company might gain include:
- Easier collaboration: Implementing the right technologies makes it easier for team members to work closely together, which improves work quality and drives innovation
- Greater productivity: Digital tools can accelerate your workflows with tools like automation and artificial intelligence (AI), enabling your organization to do more in significantly less time
- Enhanced reputation: Adopting advanced technology establishes your organization as an industry leader, which can impress customers and business partners
- Streamlined compliance management: When you can manage your data effectively, it’s much easier to adhere to critical industry and legal regulations
- Stronger company culture: Digital tools facilitate better collaboration and communication, making it easier for companies with large remote workforces to maintain a deep sense of community
- Increased adaptability: Digital capabilities make it easier to pivot when you encounter unexpected situations, such as how IKEA managed to quickly switch to a digital-first business model when stores closed during the pandemic
Digital transformation benefits your company and your customers, improving efficiency, productivity, and adaptability
A digital-first approach adds value to both your organization and your customers. One of the big priorities in an effective digital transformation is to adopt technologies that boost efficiency and streamline your processes.
Of course, you need proper planning and resources to ensure your digital transformation journey goes well. Let’s explore the five foundational elements of a strong digital strategy.
What are the pillars of digital transformation?
Just as literal pillars support physical structures, companies need certain components to support their initiatives. Cloud content management solutions help organizations build these critical digital transformation pillars.
Pillar 1: Strategic vision and leadership
A clear vision statement builds the foundation for your entire digital transformation journey. Some important questions to answer when drafting your statement include:
- Who will be most affected by the change?
- What are your biggest priorities in this journey?
- How does this project add value to your customers?
- How does digitization align with your overall mission and business goals?
- What is your organization missing that could make digital transformation easier?
The key to lasting success is to get buy-in from your entire organization, starting with your C-suite. Your company leadership sets the standard for technology usage and provides a strong example of how to embrace change and look toward the future. This leadership gives employees the guidance and support they need to move forward confidently.
Support from your organization is essential when launching digital transformation
However, a top-down approach isn’t always enough to bring everyone on board. Your people need to support the initiative at every level to ensure success, which can be challenging if you’re implementing more extensive changes.
Addressing common misconceptions about digital transformation will be critical to gaining the approval of your entire workforce. For example, many people worry that adopting advanced technologies like AI and workflow automation will threaten their jobs. Reassuring your people that these tools are meant to be just that — tools — is essential for maintaining their trust.
Some other components of securing stakeholder buy-in include:
- Prioritize transparency: Be honest about what you want to achieve with this transformation initiative, and ensure your people know what you expect from them
- Listen to your people: Build open channels of communication so your people can voice their questions and concerns, and provide clear answers
- Demonstrate value: Provide a holistic overview of how digitization will benefit your company — for example, show how workflow automation will make your employees’ lives easier
When your people back your project, you’re much more likely to achieve what you set out to do. And effective leadership is essential for gaining that support.
Pillar 2: A customer-centric approach
Your customers make up one of the most foundational pillars of digital transformation. They’re the reason your organization exists, after all. And when you incorporate their needs into your digital strategy goals, you can:
- Reduce operating costs
- Boost revenue generation
- Enhance your brand’s image
- Inspire greater customer loyalty
- Become a more adaptable business
- Differentiate your brand from your competitors
To do that, though, you need to know what those needs are — and such insights come from the data you collect. Customers today expect a frictionless, personalized experience across all your channels, from your e-commerce storefront to your customer-service help desk. But how can you turn your customer data into a realistic strategy?
That’s where the cloud comes in. A cloud content management system creates a centralized repository for all your customer data, from demographic information to shopping behaviors. When all your data lives under one roof, you eliminate the need for each department to maintain its own siloed databases — thus improving data quality and building more complete customer profiles.
Create a centralized repository for your customer data with a cloud content management system
Cloud collaboration and communication tools also enable asynchronous work, allowing your support teams to help customers across various time zones and geographic locations. Your customers can then leave feedback after the interaction, which you can use to improve your services.
A customer journey map can help you use the data you collect by displaying each touchpoint in the customer’s evolving relationship with your brand. Customer reviews and other feedback can help you identify pain points, establish priorities, and examine each new change you make.
Some key points for digitization in the customer journey include:
- Awareness: This channel is where a customer first becomes aware of your brand, such as a company social media account, an online review site, or mobile advertisements
- Contact: This is your point-of-sale channel, which could include your e-commerce website, retail store, or call center
- Post-sale: Customers use these channels to make contact with you after buying, such as email newsletters, customer support services, or feedback surveys
Pillar 3: Agile processes and workflows
ChatGPT and other AI tools took the world by storm in late 2022. Other businesses quickly rolled out their own AI offerings within a few months of the chatbot’s rise to fame, proving that waiting to make a move can cost organizations their competitive edge.
Process optimization in digital transformation empowers your organization to get work done more easily and quickly. You can shorten product development cycles to stay ahead of the competition, and your company can bring in more revenue as a result.
For example, it’s common for people to drift into autopilot when tasked with manual, repetitive jobs like data entry. When their focus is elsewhere, your employees are more prone to making preventable errors that can impact your ability to make good business decisions and slow down work progress.
Workflow automation technologies help companies accelerate iterative workflows across the organization, turning your digital transformation into shorter, more manageable cycles that address specific goals. On a more granular level, automation can also help eliminate human errors, so you don’t have to go back and repeat your work.
Here’s a more specific example. In the healthcare industry, providers often work according to their individual schedules, caseloads, and locations, which can make coordinating work across an organization difficult. Cloud-based workflow automation software improves access to important data and other files, making it easier for healthcare workers to stay on track and organized.
Other benefits of digital process optimization can include:
- Lower operating costs
- More effective risk mitigation
- Better transparency and visibility
- Streamlined compliance management
- Improved problem-solving capabilities
Digital process optimization can streamline compliance management, reduce operating costs, and provide better transparency
But achieving these gains is about more than adding the right tools to your tech stack — you need to know how to use them properly to get the most out of them. However, many organizations lack the skill set to implement these technologies properly. Ensure you’re setting your people up for success by creating upskilling and reskilling programs specifically aimed at preparing them for those higher-level activities.
Cloud content management tools with workflow automation capabilities streamline essential workflows by cutting out those tedious manual tasks, freeing up your employees to focus on more complex, satisfying projects. And the more fulfilled your people feel at work, the better your employee turnout rates.
Pillar 4: Data-driven decision making
Your company’s data can unlock a treasure trove of invaluable insights — if you know how to use it. Unfortunately, many companies struggle to leverage their data due to data management issues like:
- Data silos: Often, people unwittingly lock up valuable data on disparate legacy systems, blocking access to those outside of their department or team
- Poor data quality: Bad data generates misleading insights, which impact your ability to make the most effective decisions
- Friction: When your company uses different platforms to store information, it becomes much harder to maintain effective data management policies
Cloud storage solves these issues by consolidating all your content into one unified repository, eliminating the need for disparate systems and creating a frictionless experience. Additionally, advanced analytics capabilities integrated into those cloud content management solutions enable you to get more out of your data in significantly less time.
Because all your content is readily available from your centralized database, your analytics tools can process it quickly and without hassle. You also get greater visibility into the results, making holding people accountable for their work easier.
Some examples of applications for this data include:
- Customer experience: Analyzing customer behavioral data can help you more effectively target the customers who are most likely to abandon your company and come up with ways to build their loyalty
- Internal processes: Run reports on your everyday operations to identify opportunities for process improvement
- Product development: Mine data from customer-generated content like product reviews or support tickets to understand whether your offerings are truly meeting their needs
- Marketing: A better understanding of your customers makes it easier to tailor your messaging to their specific needs, which can improve conversion rates
Start by brainstorming the problems you face with any of the above areas. How can more complete data help you address these problems, and what data is relevant for your application?
For example, which metrics would you need to track to pinpoint operational inefficiencies? Use these insights to begin outlining your strategy.
Pillar 5: Continuous innovation and adaptation
With today’s dizzying rate of change increasing yearly, your business must continually adapt. You need to create a company that embraces the challenges of tomorrow and the ones you already face.
Fostering a culture of continuous learning and innovation is essential for staying competitive in the digital age. That’s why reskilling and upskilling initiatives are so important for digital transformation. When your people have the skills and knowledge they need to get the most out of your digital tools, you can maximize ROI and improve your company culture.
A business culture of continual learning, adaptation, and innovation is critical in today's digital age
Cloud computing solutions and other digital transformation tools facilitate cross-functional collaboration and open communication between team members, improving your organization’s agility. Leaders must empower their employees to make autonomous decisions, which can often mean taking risks.
Then, they can learn from their mistakes and improve their approach to further challenges. Whenever challenges appear, your teams will have the information they need to respond quickly and effectively.
Here are some more culture-building tips:
- Emphasize transparency: Openness builds trust, which fosters better collaboration —make sure you keep your people informed about your organization’s goals and overall progress
- Remove barriers: Excessive bureaucracy and red tape limit your potential for innovation, so simplifying your business model can help you re- spark creativity in your people
- Democratize idea generation: Provide clear paths employees in all departments can take to provide feedback and suggestions on projects
- Celebrate your wins: Every so often, take the time to recognize your organization’s successes and encourage your people to keep up the good work
- Cultivate diversity: Encourage alliances between your people — even when they work in areas that wouldn’t normally overlap — to push people to consider new perspectives
The goal is to prioritize building an environment that makes your people feel safe to express and act on their ideas. Real innovation depends on people taking risks, testing the boundaries of the status quo, and learning from their experiences. And that’s what keeps your organization growing year after year.
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