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The Digital Transformation Journey: Planning Your Roadmap To Success

At the beginning of your Digital Transformation journey, you may seem overwhelmed and not sure where to start. The truth is that digital transformation (DX) isn’t easy. However, if you look at it with a wider lens, it is not just one big undertaking but a collective series of continual projects. 

The goal of DX is for companies to change and adapt their business strategy, models, and process to new market realities. The world has become increasingly customer-centric, placing greater importance on companies to meet and exceed customer expectations.

It’s important to start out prepared rather than diving into the deep end and turning everything upside down. You can start by focusing on the low hanging fruit and build up to the larger projects. Nonetheless, implementing strategies and solutions must be done right for a positive outcome. Often businesses try to implement or speed up processes without thinking about the long-term goals or aligning with the primary strategy. 

Starting out slow might seem like you’re not implementing change quickly enough. Yet, in reality, this is starting you on a steady path and allows you to recognize challenges and issues earlier, as well as avoid hiccups and mistakes along the way. The term “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” certainly applies here.

Let’s start with the basics, what exactly do we mean by Digital Transformation?

“Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. This reimagining of business in the digital age is digital transformation.” - Salesforce 

Firstly, you must define what the overarching strategy is for your DX program. When developing your DX strategy, you should start with how you are currently engaging and interacting with your customers. 

You need to understand your customer touchpoints, how you are capturing their data and how it is being used throughout your organisation. Is it currently siloed? Can agents easily access the data, edit it or update it globally? 

Once you have a better understanding of the customer journey, you can move onto examining processes within different departments and how these affect the customer experience. Try and understand your current challenges and identify what’s not working well before fixing them. 

While we look at digital transformation as a transition from analogue to digital, it is in fact much more. It is about pinpointing and finding the right solutions that not only works for your business but helps it improve and grow. 

Technology solutions are often brought in to fix underlying problems and obstacles. However, without a deeper understanding of what the real challenges and issues are, your DX program and tech solutions are bound to fail. 

Who needs to adapt to digital transformation? Simply answer - everyone. A lot of start-ups often think it’s easier to set up basic businesses processes now and transform them later. In reality, this will only cause more challenges and lose time when you begin to expand and grow. Large enterprises often face different challenges around legacy systems, out-dated and complex manual processes, as well as poor omni-channel experiences for their customers.

Every business - big or small, B2C or B2B - should be focusing on agile/flexible IT environments, personalized customer interactions and seamless multi-channel experiences. Building and planning digitally prepares your business to be agile and ready to grow. 

In a study from Mckinsey on success & digital transformation, less than 30% of businesses who have begun their DX journey feel that it was a successful transformation. As little as 16% said they have actually improved their processes. 

However, don’t fret, there are many companies that do succeed and this number is rising and will continue to rise by learning and adapting from what these successful companies have done. 

Luckily for you, from the McKinsey study, we can identify a number of areas that companies can focus on to achieve success. These include the following: 

  • 85% integrated traditional web-based technologies.

  • 81% used cloud-based services.

  • 68% used mobile solutions.

By taking these key stats and implementing them into part of your strategy you can start your journey the right way and avoid mistakes other businesses have made. Digital transformation is not just about implementing a new system, it’s a new frame of mind. Entering this journey with the right mindset - and the correct digital-savvy leaders in place - will help drive and accelerate the transformation to have a positive outcome. 

Research Technology Solutions

Once your objectives, challenges and issues are identified you can start to strategize a plan and start researching technology solutions that will help you implement your new business models, processes and workflows. 

Researching technology solutions is an integral part of a digital transformation strategy. Some questions to ask yourself when deciding on a solution include -  Can I use my customer data effectively and get a 360 degree view of my customer? Will it help improve and revamp these processes and workflows? Does it work across all departments? Can it integrate with other external/legacy systems? 

A cloud platform, like Salesforce, can really help on your DX journey. Not only is salesforce accessible from different locations and devices, it integrates with many systems and has a lot of solutions for different sectors of your business. 

Did you know there’s a trailhead on Digital transformation? Take a look at it here.

Prioritise Customers and Employees [Organizational Structure]

Part of digital transformation is moving from a traditional ‘product-focused’ business to being a ‘customer-focused’ business. Businesses that are ready for digital transformation understand that customers are more aware of what they want. Understanding this will help put things into perspective. Getting your executives and leaders on board with your new digital vision early is key. 

Once you’ve figured out your strategy plan, it's time to prepare your business. Many digital transformation journeys fail because employees don’t support them or are onboarded poorly. That brings us to the topic of transformational leadership. Engage initiative leaders (leaders of either digital or non-digital initiatives that are part of the transformation) to support the transformation.

Having a strong and trusted leader can help employees feel secure and motivated during times of change. 

Be Careful: Gradually Deploy New Technology

In today’s world, we live in what’s considered a ‘Hybrid IT World’. Journeys to new digital systems come with the organisation and planning of current systems. Supporting and maintaining existing applications and infrastructure needs to be considered when implementing new technology. Whether you are integrating current technology or replacing it, it will need to be handled with care. 

During deployment, focus on communication, change management, and consistency. You don’t necessarily need to ‘re-invent the wheel’ but improve and replace current processes for optimisation. 

Deploying new technology takes time and cannot be done overnight or ‘out of the box’. Gathering the right team to correctly implement and challenge processes are not only imperative but vital to your success. Onboarding and deploying can be a long process and take many months or years. Each department can be at different stages and face different challenges. Change management is crucial to your deployment. The ability to measure,  track and analyse changes that are made allows you to gather more data to improve processes and optimise deployment even more. 

Data Security, Privacy and Ethics

Most users feel their data is vulnerable and at risk of data breaches. It’s important to keep data security as a top priority. With a platform like Salesforce who prioritise data security, you can feel rest assured that data will be as safe as possible. Salesforce also offers a large amount of information on the status of Data & Security on the salesforce platform through trust.salesforce.com

You can also learn more about Data security on this trailhead.

What’s Next?

In our next couple of posts, we will examine how you can improve end-to-end customer experiences and enhance your omnichannel strategy using Salesforce. By focusing on automation and enhanced workflows, the benefits not only impact customer-facing teams but also back-office operations. By leveraging your customer data and having it accessible across one centralised platform, companies can begin to unlock and drive new opportunities and insights.

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