Blog: Digital transformation: What it is and how it can future-proof your business
There is no denying that we’re operating in a digital economy where the norm is that everything must be always-on, real-time, and address our needs immediately.
As a result, businesses must continuously adapt to a demanding and changing environment. The question is no longer whether to transform old ways of operating, but how to create positive transformation.
Fortunately, small and large businesses can take clear, meaningful steps towards becoming future-proof.
What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is a Big Term that encompasses a range of processes and results, but ultimately it’s about becoming a digital enterprise. As Deloitte explains, “(a digital enterprise is) an organization that uses technology to continuously evolve all aspects of its business models.” These models include what the enterprise offers, but also how it operates, and how it interacts with customers.
Importantly, digital transformation (DT) helps businesses become more resilient by transforming traditional or non-digital business processes or services and creating new services that leverage digital technology to accelerate impact and drive innovation.
Cloud computing is a popular example of DT in the Technology field, specifically. In Financial Services, the introduction of banking apps for a customer’s mobile phone is the quintessential use case. Transformation occurs across departments too: when a Marketing team switches from analog to digital marketing materials, or a Sales team uses a CRM to keep its pipeline constantly up-to-date.
The resulting digital acceleration that follows these transformations can often mean the difference between failing or thriving as a business. And those businesses that are able to rapidly innovate will uncover the opportunities that naturally flow from the DT process.
Of course, one factor that shouldn’t be underestimated is the human element – the real bridge to success. Since digital transformation is not a once-off but rather a continually evolving process, you need all stakeholders on board throughout.
And when it comes to the execution of a digital transformation, planning is key. The DT journey comprises various stages, requires different resources for each business, and a clear roadmap if you wish to be successful.
Areas of transformation
Digital transformation impacts all business areas, from operations to customer experience, analytics, and leadership. Let’s focus on a few of the primary ones.
You can transform how your business operates by finding new ways to use technology. This includes adopting new technologies, and also using your existing technologies in new ways.
Digitizing tools and services and more efficiently leveraging partners and suppliers is fundamental to transformation. For decision-makers, this includes taking a fresh look at how the business functions at its core, which can mean adopting a new approach to revenue, or even transforming the enterprise’s main offering.
The focus of a digital transformation will also be on optimizing your business processes through process management and automation. By including both of these in your strategy, you bring together the customer-facing and company goals.
Beyond the business, you should also consider the broader ecosystem within which you operate – your network of stakeholders (including partners), the economic climate, and relevant regulatory and compliance requirements. To create innovative, successful ecosystems that lead the ‘as-a-service’ economy, you need to leverage data to develop actionable intelligence and innovative, interesting assets.
With the right digital tools, you can uncover and leverage new business opportunities. Platforms that improve communication and collaboration, like Slack, provide employees with the tools they need to collaborate effectively. And CRM, CMS, and project management software is becoming essential for agile work, along with payroll and digital accounting solutions.
When the software you choose is also intuitive, it enables everyone to use data effectively – monitoring and improving performance and supporting immediate decision making. Along with being easy to use, these digital tools must also be easy to scale.
The human side of digital transformation
Implementing the right digital resources for transformation is crucial, but even more crucial to the success of your digital transformation is your people. The needs of all stakeholders – the workforce, partners, and customers – must come before technology in order for your DT journey to progress.
The human side of DT is all about facilitating an organizational culture that embraces change. Business leaders play a key role in championing this attitude by thinking and acting with a digital mindset. And with everyone aligned and tuned to the same goals, you can set clear goals and acquire competencies that help the business become more future-proof.
Further, from a customer experience perspective, businesses can use technology to fuel customer growth and create more customer touchpoints – all leading to a better understanding of customers, which helps to propel greater customer satisfaction.
Ultimately, your business should understand the relationship between the people and tools that propel your DT. Technology plays the role of the enabler in a digital transformation – they support the human side of the process. Businesses that take this on board will get more from both their tangible assets – such as business processes, and intangible assets – opportunity-rich data that can be uncovered on the human side.
How to execute digital transformation
A DT doesn’t happen overnight: It must be well-considered and clearly mapped out. It can be difficult to identify where to start, so we’ve identified a three-step framework to help you determine the best approach to transforming your business.
1. Set up your transformation roadmap
Getting the focus right for your business is important for creating a clear path to success. Bring together ideas from within the enterprise, and evaluate customer needs, current trends, and market disruptions. Uncover opportunities, like a new product or service, and analyze their potential. Then decide which initiatives offer the most impact for your business and your customers, remembering to keep in mind what’s possible for your business to accomplish.
2. Get to know user needs
Next, take a close look at your users’ needs and their behaviors. This will guide your team in designing the most suitable solutions, which helps drive satisfaction and loyalty among your customers. Create minimum viable offerings (MVOs) to test and iterate what works best. Then combine your learnings with technical innovations, keeping in mind your business goals, to refine the concept. With that completed, test and iterate the concept to learn from the market and create the perfect offering.
3. Deliver and scale
At this stage, you’re ready to get delivery teams into action, delivering and continually refining your MVO. Lastly, scale the MVO as it matures while you improve operations (including the use of new and innovative technologies) to support those teams.
Above all, don’t ignore social, environmental, and business trends. These shifts can play a large role in shaping how businesses operate. Adapting quickly and responding to the changing world around you is a key element of executing a DT in a meaningful, sustainable way.
Top 5 digital transformation trends
According to TechTarget, the top five digital transformation trends for 2022 embrace our changing work needs, the growing importance of knowledge sharing, and software that integrates smoothly with other business tools.
1. Hybrid work models
The pandemic has changed where people work, how they work, and when they work. Forward-thinking businesses have embraced this shift, providing employees with the hardware and software they need to continue working in a remote or hybrid model. Enterprises that also favor low-code or no-code software truly support hassle-free production, helping everyone remain focused on business goals.
Having the right tech stack (the collection of software you need to execute an application) can also be pivotal in retaining skilled talent – software that supports seamless productivity and the freedom to work when, where, and how employees want to work helps ensure that teams feel supported in any working situation. As the preference for hybrid and remote working grows, many businesses are shifting their data to the cloud to support better security, agility, and collaboration.
2. Improved knowledge sharing and collaboration
With employees and other stakeholders often spread across multiple locations and timezones, it’s crucial that businesses have their data in one central location, like the cloud. When data is no longer siloed, you’re set up for smooth knowledge sharing and collaboration.
In industries experiencing high employee turnover rates, it’s even more vital to have reliable content management and collaboration tools to ensure knowledge retention and better continuity.
3. Centralized customer data
For both B2C (Business to Customer) and B2B (Business to Business) organizations, teams need to stay on top of customer and client needs. The ability to respond and solve problems fast is paramount for remaining viable and competitive.
For instance, with all your customer data stored centrally in a cloud data warehouse, you can easily manage supply chain risks and keep on the pulse of customer demands. Cutting-edge analytics capabilities, like Astrato’s Live Query, connect people directly to their data for instant insight into key business metrics.
4. Improved data privacy and security
As stakeholders access data from various devices, the privacy of their data and security from the business’s perspective is a major priority. Software that leverages the inherent security measures employed by Cloud Solution Providers reduces risk levels immediately and keeps confidential information secure.
Astrato’s cloud-native analytics platform supports world-class data governance, integrating Snowflake’s built-in Row-Level and Data Masking security policies, so your team can securely share data.
5. Integrated business solutions
Without software that integrates with other business applications, there can be no transformation. And since most users work with multiple business tools, their software apps need to seamlessly integrate to keep data flowing within the team and organization.
With Astrato Embeds, you can embed live insights into your everyday business apps (like HubSpot, Confluence, or SharePoint). That way, there’s no more hopping between different apps as you share insights with others.
The role of cloud computing in digital transformation
Cloud computing is the delivery of services through the internet and includes things like data storage, software, and databases. With cloud computing, businesses can save costs, increase productivity and performance, and improve security.
Digital transformation is not possible without cloud computing. And McKinsey builds on this premise, sharing that those leading businesses operating in the cloud “bring new capabilities to market more quickly, innovate more easily, and scale more efficiently” than their non-cloud invested counterparts. An investment in cloud platforms enables a business to speed up their transformation with:
- a faster time to market
- greater accessibility and scalability
- more automation opportunities
- enhanced security
- more innovative products and services
Snowflake is an excellent example of a cloud-computing provider that’s changing the Business Intelligence landscape. At their recent Snowflake Summit, one of the attendees shared that “the ability to build an app once and have it run on multiple clouds and multiple regions seamlessly is a game-changer.” And we agree: Data-driven digital transformation – enabled by cloud computing – is the way forward.
Astrato’s cloud-native platform
When you’re ready to start or speed up your transformation process, explore Astrato’s user-friendly data analytics and visualization platform. Astrato is built for the Snowflake Data Cloud, and our no-code platform is intuitive and does all the heavy lifting for you.
If your organization is already in the ‘Deliver and Scale’ DT stage, take advantage of the agility and scalability of Astrato’s cloud-native solution. Our features are created specifically to meet the needs of modern data teams and keep real-time insights flowing.
Unlike traditional BI solutions that move or replicate data, there’s no data movement with Astrato. And that means your whole business can access trusted insights, instantly. Our Live Query capability connects everyone with real-time data and supports the immediate decisions you need to make during transformation.
You can also create new data-driven cloud experiences with Astrato’s Writeback capability. Turn your read-only dashboards into two-way analytical apps, for a modern approach to analytics.
To keep up with rapid changes in the global marketplace, it’s a must for businesses to speed up their digital transformation journey. With innovative, intuitive tools, and scalable cloud architecture, you’ll have the resources to create the strategic advantage and speed to value your business needs.
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