Like many trends in technology the Digital Transformation trend can mean different things to different people. In this article we will explore digital transformation concepts so that regardless of your industry, size, or location, you will have a foundation to build a plan suitable for your situation.
First, transformation is change. As part of a digital transformation, companies transform current processes and procedures to be conducted, controlled, and made available through new digital channels with the goal of creating opportunities for the organization to thrive. In the most basic sense, “going paperless” can be considered the first step to a digital transformation. The companies who get the most benefits go much further..
Just because information is digital now, doesn’t mean its better. Think of the many places you store digital information now: email, network file shares, Sharepoint sites, spreadsheets, Dropbox, phones, tablets, PCs, and the list goes on and on. How can our businesses run efficiently with structure like that? To become efficient and effective we need to use technology to provide structure and automation to the collection and management of all our information.
The Phases of Digital Transformation
Step one of your digital transformation is to implement systems to execute tasks and actions without human intervention. Examples include automated routing rules for approvals, contract approval processes, or electronic submission of a service request.
Now that you’ve got systems working the process and handling some of the processes we can start looking at phase 2 of a digital transformation, which is having technology initiate interaction with people.
Many interactions with customers, vendors, or employees are informational. We simply need to notify someone of something or ask a simple question and wait for a response. Now that you’ve automated some processes and have some systems in place we can start initiating the conversation. Think about when you get a text message alerting you of your bank balance or that your payment method needs to be updated in Amazon. These are automated interactions that provide timely and important information. In a business setting it could be a reminder to renew a contract, to update benefits information, or notify a hiring manager that the applicant has passed the background check.
The final phase of the transformation occurs when your information and data no longer look like they once did. You now find new and valuable ways to use information to take action on your business. With better data, we can change how people interact with data. A great example is Yelp. You can get a list of great restaurants, but now you can overlay that list on a map so the visual representation is totally changed from what it once was. In business the same can be done. Overlay business expense data to see what areas are operating in and out of guidelines, create an interactive chart that allows supervisors to review worker productivity, or automatically generate contracts based on client data and send them for approval on a mobile device.
There are many opportunities for companies to unlock potential hidden in outdated processes. The challenge for many companies is where to start and how to select and fund the right project.