What Is Digital Transformation? Here’s Our Definitive Guide
From individual people that use their phones to contact loved ones, order products online, and participate in social media, right the way through to businesses and enterprises who weave digital processes into their business models – technology is absolutely everywhere, in all segments of society. For the latter group, businesses, the role that digital technologies play in their daily operations cannot be underestimated and, as we head into the 2020’s the need for them to undergo digital transformations, that further embed and increase the use of technological systems, is vital. In this definitive guide, we’re going to be looking at the ideas behind the digital business transformation, how to implement new technology into your businesses processes, and why Microsoft’s cloud services and a managed IT service company such as Everything Tech, can help achieve a true transformation.
We’ll be exploring the fundamental nature of this transformation of business technology and examining how Covid-19 has changed priorities, quickened the pace of digitization, and made this kind of digital strategy a necessity for employees to be successful and achieve their goals. Regardless of what sector or market you operate in, the need to take these steps now is, in business terms, a matter of life and death. The scale of digital innovations is only going to increase and to avoid being left behind, digital transformation efforts need to be made right now. So, without further ado, let’s get started and help you take your first steps to a successful digital business transformation.
What Is Digital Transformation And What Is Meant By It?
Essentially, the term ‘digital transformation’ refers to businesses using digital technologies to create new processes, cultures, and enhanced customer experiences, or adapt existing systems. The point of a digital transformation process is to ensure that a company can keep up with business innovation and reflect the changing demands of wider society. A lot of the time, people and businesses think about the process of digital transformations as it relates to their internal practices and individual departments. This siloing of the process is common but falls short of the fundamental nature needed for a successful digital transformation strategy to be undertaken.
The reason why digital transformation and IT services are important is that it helps a company refocus on how they interact with customers and how their business processes impact customer expectations. It’s not just about the HR department, or the development team, or the sales team, it’s about how we engage with customers and what role digital technologies play in order to facilitate this. As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, we’re all going to be moving further away from legacy technology and taking on board cloud technology, mobile applications, and new ways to speak to customers, such as chatbots and social media. This change presents a chance to surpass customer demands and alter operational processes in a way that benefits them, employees, and business leaders alike.
Everything Tech Definition
Digital transformation is the foundational process by which a business changes how it interacts with customers by harnessing new technologies, possibilities, and radically changing the way daily operations are done. As well as promoting efficiency, successful transformations can help foster new types of innovation and creativity and welcome new digital technologies.
Obviously, digital transformation projects will differ in length depending on the age, size, and type of company that is undertaking it. For companies that are young, nimble and have not had time to put into practice legacy systems, a digital transformation strategy may be baked into the founding of the business and be taught to all employees from the moment they arrive. On the other hand, a company that has a well-established business strategy, and way of working, may require a more fundamental change in response to this transformation. This is because the digital platforms needed to enhance the digital experience simply aren’t there, and leadership have not deemed it necessary because the current way of doing things has seen revenue and profit increase, or remain steady. For them, aspects of their digital transformation frameworks may require staff to adopt a new mindset, a scope of expectations to be set, and a list of digital priorities made with final goals possibly not being met for many years.
Regardless of people’s digital transformation journeys, the goal remains the same – to harness new technology to add value to each customer interaction and keep up with a fast-paced, mobile-first culture that expects seamless, secure interactions. The difference between who will succeed, and who will fail, is all about making sure you’re a truly digital business. Let’s say, for example, you want to launch an app, when you’re in the process of developing it, is your goal to make your workforce more mobile, which is a tech-savvy thing to do, or is it to help simplify a customer’s journey? This latter option makes you a truly digital business, one that has customer centricity at its heart.
The 4 Different Types Of Digital Transformation
So we’ve established what a standard transformation is and, on this page, we’ll outline the steps companies need to take to ensure good digital transformation ROI (return on investment). However, one element of this topic that isn’t spoken about enough is the different types of transformation journeys, programs, and digital initiatives that managers and their workforce may well choose to undergo. Broadly, there are four different types, and, here, we’ll look to explain each type so that you can figure out which category applies to you, and become more familiar with the buzzwords and overall objective of each.
Business Process Transformation
Refining processes and reducing waste by using automation, analytics, API, and internet-hosted services can have transformative effects on a company, from the way an individual person gets to do their job, to more fundamental, structural ways. Complex legacy technology has been removed, and replaced with cloud-based digital transformation technologies the can automate mundane tasks such as accounting and document creation and allows a person to focus on more meaningful pursuits that help the economic development of the company, from being able to provide more thorough customer service to consumers right the way through to innovating their own products for different sectors, countries, and industries.
Business Model Transformation
The former is about ensuring each person has the automation technologies in place to do their job efficiently, whereas this specific definition and transformation focuses on the entire business model – the fundamental structures that are in place to achieve business goals.
By embracing digital disruption, businesses can effectively plan for tomorrow and radically reshape the entire workplace and mainframe. This, ultimately, can help lead to new activities in new areas and open up opportunities for growth that rivals simply can’t keep up with. The key to this kind of transformation is the immediate involvement of participants and stakeholders at the top of the level of the business. This ensures that the adoption of new processes and behaviour will be filtered from the top down.
This requires a great deal of thinking but is arguably the one type that provides the biggest ROI if managers and stakeholders take the stages seriously. New technology and ecosystems mean that businesses can completely redesign what they offer, and what they do. There is a real opportunity to utilise digitalization to diversify their product range, spread risk, and create compelling reasons for new markets and industries to pay attention to them.
Technology gaps, which may have been around 10 or 15 years ago, have to a large extent, been bridged. Virtually any business with enough enthusiasm can access and focus on new technologies to unlock growth, hitherto unheard of, even for businesses that were around before the internet.
This type of transformation is required regardless of which other types may be undertaken. To become the finished article, organisational mindsets, processes and talent need to be recognised. From testing and learning right the way through to independent decision making and agile workflows, it’s about fundamentally altering the culture as a whole. This type of transformation is the one most closely associated with customer eccentricity and is about putting a focus on pulling innovation, analytics, and agility into a company off the back of more concrete transformations and initiatives. The companies that do this best will see cultural and organisational change as a long-term requirement for success, a product of business transformation initiatives.
Successful Transformation Examples: How Fast Food Got Faster
When the first McDonald’s outlet popped up in America in Illinois in 1955, the world thought we had reached the pinnacle of fast-food supply chains. Over 60 years later and the way food is delivered has radically altered – as we’ll explain, this is a fantastic example of digital transformation. This example centres around one word – convenience. If businesses, particularly those in the food industry, can offer convenience, the market will likely pay far, far more for their service. This is because they are selling time, more specifically the act of saving time, as well as the food they make.
Deliveroo and McDonalds are two great examples of companies that either underwent digital transformations from the start or adopted it after years of doing processes a certain way. The former, Deliveroo, have gone about their digital transformation initiatives by creating a whole new platform that requires infrastructure and technological investments. By utilising the world’s most valuable resource, data, they have been able to increase customer satisfaction by making fast food faster and offering greater customer experiences. In terms of McDonald’s, their digital transformation program has focused on applying tech throughout customers’ journey to speed up purchasing and make the buying process quick and easy. This manifests itself as purchasing screens, mobile apps that enable quicker collection and payments that can be taken via a smartphone.
Both of these examples showcase how digital transformation success can not only make internal processes more efficient, but offer a new level of customer satisfaction, hitherto unknown, thanks to the role, and impact, of faster technologies. For your own digital transformation efforts to be worthwhile, you must start to think about subsequent functions, planning, implementation, and eventual analysis on a fundamental level, not just bit-by-bit. This is the only way you’ll ever break away from the norm and ensure technology is present in your entire business architecture.
The 5 Pillars That Ensure Transformation Success
Soon, we’ll be discussing how digital transformations fail. But how do you make them succeed? How do you avoid those pitfalls and guarantee that your investments in technology are meaningful? Well, to do so, it requires 5 key pillars. These pillars should be your north stars. They are facets of your business that will play a key role in your success. Here, we’re going to be going into detail about these pillars. We’ll examine how they are essential to help break up the status quo and guarantee that you move away from traditional channels. Work to these pillars and you’ll soon be considered digital leaders, no matter what industry you operate in.
Focus On Vision And Strategy
Beyond the rhetoric, at the heart of any digital transformation is the vision (which is where you want to go), and strategy (how you get there). This is arguably the most important pillar and will set your business transformation apart from the others. As we’ll go on to talk about, a lot of transformations fail because there are no specific goals put in place. This means that the execution just isn’t the same. To avoid this, focus on performance, and health. Performance relates to how you deliver the change that positively impacts financial and operational goals. Health looks at how effectively your organisation works as a group to pursue your performance goals. Ask important questions like: “How do we measure our transformation?”, “Where do we want to go with this new technology?”, and “What is the current role of tech in our business?”. All this helps to focus your vision and strategy.
Make New Digital Connections
You’ll be surprised, but, there are sure to be areas of your business that can be streamlined by becoming digitised. Once you’ve gone deep on your customer’s journey, and your employee’s experience, look at the areas that could be improved by leveraging technologies. By moving things online, be that in the Cloud or elsewhere, you can spend less time on them. The core purpose of moving away from traditional channels is to save time, permanently solve problems, and adapt to newer, better ways.
Understand Customer’s Journeys
We’ve spoken a lot about in-house processes and changes in the guide. But, something that shouldn’t be overlooked is the need to understand customer behaviour. After all, without them, you wouldn’t have employees to offer a transformation to in the first place. When it comes to focusing on customers, you need to focus on how they currently experience their world. And, crucially, you need to think about how they will experience it in the future. It’s no use planning for the next six months because the customer landscape will look entirely different very soon after that. Getting to know the core parts of what has evolved in a customer’s buying journey will help you roadmap a transformation. How do you get to know all this? Simple, by searching for data. Get to know your customers, ask them questions that relate to their buying experience with you, and competitors. The answers might be tough to hear, but they are essential to attracting a wider audience. If you can offer a seamless experience across all platforms, then you’re winning. To do this, you’ve got to start asking questions.
Get To Know Your Employee’s Experience
As we’ve established, technological changes are going to impact your employees. Understanding how your teams feel about their experience – both current and desired – will allow you to build a road map. This road map can guarantee transformation momentum, and help establish goals. If you can be transparent with your team and involve them in the process, you’re going to be set up for long-term success. Why? Because you will have built up genuine loyalty and support. This makes them much happier to undergo an acceleration of innovation.
Aim To Change The Culture
If culture isn’t cared for in a business, transformations fail. This is because successful movements into a modern online world don’t happen overnight. They take months to get right and they need everyone to be on board. A business must self examine its culture as one of the main pillars of its transformation. Beyond just adding Office 365 to a process, ask how that is going to materially benefit your staff, and customers. How will that impact the way the business runs? Weaving technology into the fabric of a business is a constant process and should be thought of as such. This is one of the most important of the five pillars, but also one of the trickiest because what you’re discussing is intangible. To make it real, senior leaders must listen to feedback and channel that into the decisions made around digital transformations.
Why They Fail
In our experience here at Everything Tech – there are three big reasons why digital transformations fail. If anyone of these factors infiltrates an office’s thinking then they are more than likely not going to succeed with their transformation.
The first is simple, its commitment. Too often, executives, CEOs, or senior management are enthused through phase one, where they upgrade the office’s operating systems and resources, but when it comes to month five or six of the project, distractions occur and agendas change. This is common and too often businesses, brands, and companies understand the concept and vision of the transformation but aren’t aware of what level of effort is needed to succeed. Failing to commit to the nitty-gritty is what sees the initiative fail.
A second reason they fail is that they don’t break up this huge project into short-term achievable goals that can deliver measurable results that are already aligned with the intended vision. They build a long term plan, attempt to implement it, and fail to budget for each of the individual stages (sometimes known as sprints). Breaking down a digital transformation into a series of sprints is a much more effective way of unlocking answers and learning new lessons about the relationship between tech and your business. Fatigue and lack of momentum also factor into the second reason, which is why breaking it down are so important. By doing this, a project’s ultimate goal doesn’t ever feel too far away which keeps enthusiasm and commitment to complete it high.
A third and final reason why transformations fail occurs when organisations try to implement too much, too fast. The initial excitement and enthusiasm can lead to leaders wanting to rip up the rule book, implement completely new ways of working, and replace legacy systems that have been there, embedded in the company, for years. This expensive initial investment is too much of a sudden change and fails to consider the long-term nature of transformations. Further, this radical change is going to confuse and demotivate staff who were happy with the way things were. To avoid this companies must start small, involve staff, and provide a detailed, long-term roadmap that implements fundamental change gradually – this ensures everyone is on board and the ROI on new tech systems will be a positive one.
How To Implement A Proper Digital Transformation Strategy: Your 10-Step Guide
The ability for you to undergo successful transformations will heavily affect your ability to beat your competitors who, themselves, are undergoing their own transformations. To have a successful digital transformation strategy one must look at two essential parts – the first being the actual act of doing it, and the second involves articulating it. It’s all well and good saying you have had successful transformations, but if the reasons behind this vision, including its designs and potential benefits, have not been expressly articulated to peers, employees, and/or management, then the rate of success, and change in behaviour, will take longer. Here, we’re offering you a comprehensive 10-step guide that will allow you to conceptualise your transformations so that you can go from talking about it to actually doing it, and creating an environment that ensures the initiatives are a success.
Step 1 – Discover what is driving change in your industry
Whether it’s a transformation in manufacturing, a transformation in healthcare, or in the digital service industry the question ‘Why?’ remains the same. Spend time working out what factors are driving the changes in your industry and why they are present – are customers wanting something new? Is there a new disruptor that has changed opinions? Or, have other technological changes seen people expect slicker services? Whatever it is, you must understand the critical trends in your market from the view of your customers, the products, and the technologies that are being used.
Step 2 – Make sure leaders and senior management are digitally literate
Individuals and leaders will be the key catalysts to changing processes in a company so it is vital they are considered digital transformation leaders by departments and workers alike. From the CEO to the head of finance, all people in a management role must be digitally competent before new ideas are rolled out to staff. Without this, there is a lack of direction and leadership, with no one process being implemented. Instead, employees may adopt their own systems that lead to an entanglement of different procedures, creating more problems than they solve in the long run.
Step 3 – Empower people, and workers, in their role
Change isn’t always well received, especially by people who, quite rightly, want to do their job and leave at a reasonable hour. However, to ensure digital transformation investments are worthwhile, all employees have to pull in the right direction. Two key things can be done to ensure employees feel excited and empowered to adopt new practices. The first thing is to improve their capabilities by training and consultation – essentially, involving them in the process. Secondly, those in digital transformation management must create an environment that encourages them to build on the existing strategy so that they feel a part of the process.
Step 4 – Be driven by data
Without data, your transformations won’t matter – it’s that simple. Why? Well, because quite simply, you won’t be doing it based on anything. You’re just hoping it will work. It’s vital all decisions are based on customer or industry data and measurable, data-driven goals are established. Running everything with data is the most efficient and sure-fire way to ensure your transformation is worth the time and effort.
Step 5 – Don’t be firm; factor in flexibility to your success and wider thinking
The best way to succeed is to fail first. Try a strategy, and if it doesn’t work, don’t think your transformations are now null and void. Don’t be so committed to one strategy and recognise that new tech opportunities are just around the corner that could change your entire process in an instant. Inviting others into the process to impart their ideas and vision can only be a good thing and should never be thought of as something negative, even when it changes your own original plan.
Step 6 – Learn to love all aspects of the Cloud
One of the best tools at your disposal, to ensure worthwhile transformations, is the Cloud. Its scalability, cost-effectiveness, and ability to offer multiple functions, makes it the perfect solution for companies to become the latest digital transformation success story. A cloud strategy can offer up genuinely flexible, remote working, and ensure everything is being done with efficiency and customer satisfaction in mind.
Step 7 – Work with different business models and learn how the differences impact productivity and the rate of transformations
From revenue models to hierarchies and processes, digital transformations bring about, by their nature, change. Leaders should be looking to experiment with different models that can help optimise a new digital, customer-centric way of working. Each model you experiment with will offer different roles, more, or less, collaboration and may or may not speed up the overall digitization. Ultimately, try, try, and try some more.
Step 8 – Don’t get comfortable: Seek out risks to glean greater insights
In business, getting comfortable should be thought of as taking your eye off the ball. As part of transformations, businesses should adopt changing behaviour so that they are always innovating and adapting in order to protect themselves from future changes to software, and hardware. By seeking out risks, you’ll be able to find new context and greater insights from those subsequent actions, these two things can give you the edge, and be the difference between a good transformation, and a fundamental, long-lasting one.
Step 9 – Form a roadmap
Form a roadmap that ensures everyone in key roles and departments view digital as a way of doing things, not just a ‘thing’ in and of itself. This mindset switch is the future of business and should be considered the benchmark that will give you a vital advantage.
Step 10 – Keep communication with clients and customers high
Of course, departments and executives will be part of the change but the most important people to consider are the clients and customers that pay you. Speak to them and communicate with them to get their thoughts and opinions. By doing this you can bring customers in and have them help you solve the problem and offer recommendations, as opposed to you just creating a solution that they may, or may not, respond well to.
How Do I Measure Success and ROI?
We’ve spoken a lot about creating a digital transformation framework to increase customer satisfaction, and be seen as accelerators of innovation. And, while that is all well and good, businesses ultimately need to know the material benefits (i.e. the ROI) of transformation success. Otherwise, they’re just dealing with intangible concepts that are hard to measure in terms of monetary value. With that need established, we’ve listed a few relatively simple ways that you can measure transformation success across your organisation. These benchmarks will give sceptical senior leaders the assurance that this is a worthwhile endeavour and motivate other facets of the business.
Establish Key Performance Indicators Early On
No matter what sector you’re in, be it the manufacturing industry, the utility industry, or the insurance industry, you’ll have an idea of the KPIs that matter. These KPIs may not necessarily be to do with a digital transformation journey, they may be broader. Either way, you’ll know what metrics are important. So, when looking to measure your transformation success, undergo the same exercise of establishing relevant, contextual KPIs.
Think about the metrics that you want to monitor and grade them on a scale of importance. By doing this early on, you provide important context for your digital transformation process and ground it in the real world. Discuss the metrics with relevant parties to understand what they say about the process.
“What does this look like in practice?”, you might say. Well, for example, a KPI could be the time spent responding to customer support tickets. It could also involve measuring the average response time, or the number of support queries that your team receives.
Monitor Progress Constantly
Consistently monitoring the progress of your transformation will help provide that essential short term motivation to staff. In the long-term, monitoring progress will allow you to change course and focus on different areas should they require attention. The danger of not monitoring how it is going is far too much of a risk. It could lead to over or under investment in some areas. You also risk having your transformation fall by the wayside.
Plan out the types of reports that you’ll use to monitor those aforementioned KPIs as well as the overall progress. How will those reports be displayed? And, if the transformation is going south, at what point will senior leaders act based on the data that is being monitored?
In a real-world scenario, monitoring may look like weekly reports, based on KPIs. It could also involve monthly surveys that are sent to employees and customers to gauge satisfaction.
Set Measurable Objectives
Go super inward on this one. Everyone is undergoing their own real-time transformations and for each organisation, it will look different. Therefore, don’t look to other company’s objectives, set your own goals. Objectives, and success, are all relative and will be unique to you. It may sound profound, but it’s important to ask questions such as “What does success look like to my company?”, and “What is my ideal outcome from this transformation?”.
These will help you set those measurable objectives which will play a key role in establishing what ROI looks like for your organisation. It will also give the added benefit of putting a time limit on your goals. This will provide additional motivation to get aspects of the transformation done by a certain date, in order to hit objectives.
How Covid-19 Sped Up Digital Transformations
The current Covid-19 pandemic caused every aspect of our lives to change in a very short space of time. Within weeks, we went from working in offices, mixing in big groups, and going about our lives, to national lockdowns, limited contact with loved ones, and watching the news with interest. A second-hand effect of this pandemic, however, has been the effect on digital business transformation and the acceleration of innovation needed to cope with new, remote internal processes.
Overnight, almost, Vodafone reported a 50% rise in internet use as strict stay-at-home orders were put in place and both traditional businesses, and more modern ones, quickly found themselves having to adapt and put in place their digital transformation strategy quicker than originally planned.
According to Forbes:
- 97% of executives state the pandemic has sped up their digital transformation projects.
- 95% of them are actively looking at new ways to improve customer relationships.
- 79% of executives have increased their digital transformation budgets as a result of Covid-19.
While it sounds scary, it isn’t. The global pandemic has highlighted the resilience of the world wide web and this strength should give all businesses the confidence to follow through on their digital transformation processes. As the vaccine takes effect in the UK and restrictions are gradually eased, normal life will return soon but that in no way means that managers and business owners can just go back to the regular 9-5. Millions have benefitted from working from home (even though it can feel hard at times) and organisations shouldn’t expect people to want to come flooding back to the office for 35-40 hours a week, 5 days at a time. The status quo has been forever altered and a more flexible approach, including access to digital channels, is needed.
The pandemic has sped up digital business transformation by several years and businesses need to act now to take these temporary measures that were put in place at the start of the pandemic, and make them permanent to ensure transformation success. Simply put, businesses have no choice but to invest in a true transformation to digitise and ensure that large facets of their organisation can work remotely, and in ways that suit the employees.
In this day and age, it takes a global event such as a pandemic, to cause a big, irreversible shift in both consumer and employee behaviour to such a degree that it changes the way people work and shop, forever. The pandemic has proven to business owners and previously sceptical employees that technology can be a stand out factor for success and help them streamline internal processes and undergo business process optimisation.
In summary, the Coronavirus pandemic has forced companies, in real-time, to experience digital transformation scenarios, whether they planned to or not. The adoption of digital tools and the improvement of digital capabilities has seen a sea-change among workers who much prefer a hybrid model of office work and home/remote working. No matter what your digital journey has looked like over the last few years, or what level of technology investment you’re looking at, our team can help.
At Everything Tech, we have seen first-hand how Covid-19 has increased the need for businesses to weave technology into their day-to-day practices and their broader business strategy. It’s no longer just a cost-saving measure, it’s a necessity to attract talent, compete, and, in simple terms, function. Our digital transformation experts can help you with this acceleration of innovation and help implement cloud computing, conferencing tools, and other digital applications into your business structure so that you can harness this digital transformation momentum that has been brought on by Covid-19.
3 Ways To Accelerate Your Own Transformation
So we’ve just looked at how Covid-19 presented major challenges for an average company’s core capabilities. Now though, as the vaccine rollout progresses and normal life looks set to (sort of) return, new business challenges are being faced. Essentially, in the rush to ensure day-to-day life could continue relatively normally, technologies were rushed through and introduced to get by. There was little thought to the long term impact, which is understandable given the scale of the pandemic. This rush has led to a plateau of sorts, with businesses suffering from burnout.
Unfortunately, in a competitive landscape, there is simply no time for burnout. In fact, the opposite is true. Accelerating your digital initiative should be the thing to focus on. Now is the ideal time to address the new systems that were brought in in 2020. These should be built on so that your transformation ultimately strengths your employee’s ability to work, and improves your customer’s experience. With that real-time need in mind, we’re going to be examining a few ways that you can accelerate your transformation. Whether you’re a marketing firm or a mortgage company, these will help you if you have reached a plateau post-pandemic.
- Address the aforementioned fatigue
Even before the pandemic, the lines between work and home were blurred. Allowing employees access to their emails and instant messages from their phones resulted in an inability to switch off from work. This blurring has, like plenty of other aspects, just been intensified over the last 12 months.
This has the effect of burning people out and causing serious mental fatigue. Both of which are detrimental to creating great work. All of this must be addressed before a digital transformation can occur. Once fatigue, morale, and burnout are addressed, you can accelerate your growth, safe in the knowledge you won’t be back in this position in six months.
If business leaders are intentional in how they design their transformation, the new practices will soon replace the old habits. They should also be aware of the success and, however big or small, celebrate it. This not only incentivises the changes being made but also improves morale – which is never a bad thing.
How To Do This:
- Hire people who are open to change: Transformation-specific roles will need to be filled, among others. So, when hiring, find those applicants who are excited to work in new and innovative ways. This is one of the easiest ways to invigorate existing employees and improve the levels of fatigue.
- Shout about how the new ways of working improve performance: Reward those who have adopted this new transformation. Make a point to showcase how the new relationship with technology led to this reward and an increase in performance.
- Be respectful of the processes that got you to this point: There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the old ways. Once you do that, it then becomes a case of showcasing why these old ways need replacing.
- Remove or relax rigid practices
It’s completely understandable that in the rush to address the pandemic, teams put in place ill-thought-out practices. These may have been ok for a period, but they only accelerated their transformation up to a point. This led to them not thinking about the guiding principles that are the key to undergoing a long-term change.
Now is the ideal time to do away with these and recognise that they served a short-term purpose. One must identify the problem in order to discover the method that’s going to resolve it. That transformation acceleration that occurred in 2020 has given businesses the platform to explore new options.
Here’s How To Do It:
- Block out time to experiment: There is such a vast amount of software and information out there. So, take the time to try new things and don’t worry too much about it going wrong – it’s all valuable information. Simply keep the things that work, and remove the ones that don’t.
- Have a clear thought process: If you have a clear, visible thought process, so will other team members. If they can see why you’re doing something they’ll understand the guiding principles behind it because it is so clear.
- Focus on the ‘Why?’ at all times: Do not deviate from this. The ‘Why?’ of something is the guiding principle for digital transformations and will help you select the right practices.
- Repay the technical debt accrued during Covid
Rushing to get digital architectures in place may have led to some of them needing work. These relatively brittle systems were put in place to just survive (it just so happened that they accelerated the digital transformation) and, as a result, aren’t as thought out as they should be. This rush has led to the accruing of technical debt.
This technical debt needs to be paid before any further work is done. Getting this sorted early on will lead to greater acceleration in the medium to long term. This is because you aren’t working with error-prone systems that weren’t designed to be used for years and years.
What You Should Do:
- Give people the time to address the fixes: In your transformation, ensure meaningful time is given to addressing the backlog of issues that have occurred. Instead of investing all the time available on building new systems, a percentage of work should look at improving existing designs and implementing benchmark quality standards.
- Be thorough in ensuring this debt is paid: Carry out reports, undergo questionnaires, and create relevant metrics that ensure you’ve sufficiently solved the backlog of issues.
Frequently Used Technologies
You might be wondering about what types of technology you need to be looking at to improve the employee experience, and the levels of customer service offered. Different facets of businesses will use different technologies as key drivers of their transformations. But, in general, there are five frequently used pieces of technology. Most, if not all businesses will use these technologies at some point during their digital transformation.
We use them so often in our personal lives that it’s no surprise that apps will be prevalent in a transformation. The fact that you can access all its features, data, and functionalities from anywhere, with just a password, is just one of the reasons they are popular. Apps, those found on phones and other devices, will be a crucial driver in the change to more remote working and increased accessibility. Apps can help build stronger relationships with clients. You do this by offering more informed customer service that is bespoke to that person. This, in turn, boosts sales and brand reputation. For employees, apps can help improve comms and make it more convenient for them to answer emails and calls.
AI (Artificial Intelligence)
Artificial intelligence can aid transformations by offering up smarter solutions based on pre-existing data. In addition, AI will help to automate mundane, time-consuming tasks. In theory, this should lead to an increase in a company’s ability to spend more time on meaningful endeavours. This combination can help organisations offer greater customer service and leverage existing technology in order to get the most out of it. AI can make sure that the data you collect is used in more innovative ways because it is being interpreted by machines. These machines have years of information and context to hand, which provides more thorough answers.
IoT (Internet of Things)
IoT is a term that describes physical objects that have technologies embedded in them. From wearable tech to smart utilities and your average laptop, everything is connected. This connectivity allows businesses to learn more about customer behaviour. In turn, they can offer more intelligent experiences that are bespoke to that person. Your digital transformation will more than likely involve IoT because it harnesses data. And, as we all know, data is the key to addressing a range of business challenges, including digital transformations.
We’ll touch on cloud computing more in the next section but it would be negligent to not have it here also. Cloud computing, or, in layman’s terms, the ability to access software, data, and programmes from any internet-enabled device on-demand, will reinvent work. Suddenly, businesses can use their digital transformation to expand their recruitment and grow at a scale hitherto unknown. Why? Because any digital transformation will have the cloud at its heart. Having it as such a central pillar allows for greater access, increased collaboration, and reduces the cost of bloated, legacy IT systems. And that’s before you even think about the fact that cloud computing allows employees to work wherever they like.
A digital twin is a virtual copy of the real thing and allows organisations to test their potential new product or process. They can use this twin to see how the real thing would react in real-world scenarios. In terms of how this relates to digital transformations, companies can test new experiences and processes. By doing this, they can see if they materially benefit their staff, or their customers, without it costing them financially, or damaging their reputation.
Why A Microsoft Cloud Computing Strategy Is Key To These Types Of Transformations
One of the most effective ways of ensuring successful transformations is by implementing a suite of tools that are interconnected and help to improve entire businesses – not just one or two elements. Here at Everything Tech, a managed IT support company based in Manchester, we think that Microsoft’s cloud-based services are some of the most effective online, and offline, applications out there. As we’ll detail these systems can fundamentally alter the way you provide customers with new and cutting-edge experiences. These experiences include new ways to interact and communicate so that, overall, they remember you as a company that is all about them.
One of the main services on offer for businesses looking to undergo successful transformations is Microsoft Azure. Azure is a pay-as-you-go Cloud platform that allows businesses to switch their processes entirely to the Cloud. It uses a range of all-encompassing services that allow businesses to undergo the holistic changes needed to achieve their digital transformation goals. These Cloud services cover all elements of a business including computing, analytics, storage, networking, and collaboration. The open-source nature of Azure means that businesses can use third-party applications, and ones that suit their current processes, so they enjoy all the benefits of a digital transformation, without having to get to grips with new systems. Azure can help businesses achieve goals and manage the big, fundamental, sometimes existential, challenges that face them.
A second Microsoft cloud computing strategy is SharePoint which allows organisations to be truly collaborative while working anywhere. As was mentioned, the pandemic has seen businesses be forced into remote work and, as a result, looked to tools such as SharePoint to allow them to work together on pitches, reports, and content remotely without sacrificing the overall quality of the product or service that is produced. A third and final product is one of Microsoft’s most popular solutions and that is Office 365 for business. Packed with applications that are known and loved by millions of businesses such as Word, Excel, and Outlook, and other ones that are sometimes overlooked, but no less important, such as Yammer, Office 365 for business provides them with a suite of tools that allow them to collaborate, be productive, and reactive to their changing priorities.
How Everything Tech Can Help
Here at Everything Tech, we are proud to be Microsoft Gold Partners. This status makes us ideally suited to not only help you with your digital transformation but implement Microsoft’s package of applications so that said transformation is much easier, and smoother. As we’ve demonstrated, we’re acutely aware of why digital transformation matters and the need to address large challenges that are getting closer year by year.
From the moment you reach out to us, we’ll work hard to understand the fundamentals of your business and its current relationship with technology. Once that is established, we’ll go ahead and provide bespoke solutions and training that can give you the hardware, to physically use the new systems, and the mindset and relevant architecture so that said systems can be applied in the most optimum and effective way possible.
Why Cloud Computing?
We briefly touched on why cloud computing, among other technologies, will be so prevalent in digital transformations. However, the reason why we are emphasising the cloud so much is because of its ability to tie all that technology together.
Before we go into detail, let’s just quickly define what cloud computing is in simple terms. Essentially the term refers to the use of a network of hosted servers to store, manage, and process data, amongst other things. This is the opposite of using a local server. All your data, applications, and work are held not on physical servers in your office, but across the aforementioned network. Cloud computing can streamline your processes, reduce the cost of buying expensive server space, and allow your team to work anywhere.
The cloud allows you to integrate all the relevant technologies (e.g. IoT, Artificial Intelligence, and Big Data) without the need to invest in physical server space, complicated hardware, or complex software. The cloud’s key features will act as the main accelerators of innovation. If done correctly, it will allow you to adopt newer channels, programmes, and benefits, that will lead to better customer service and more empowered employees.
Broken down, there are different types of cloud computing. These are:
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – SaaS providers will offer their software applications on-demand, without the need to physically purchase hardware or installation discs. You simply sign up, log in, and use it as normal. Google’s suite of apps is a prime example of SaaS.
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – This type of cloud computing involves delivering software and hardware tools, including databases and operating environments, to a user. You would usually use IaaS if you wanted to develop your own internet applications. Microsoft Azure is an example of an IaaS software.
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – The third and final type. PaaS vendors offer access to a variety of computing resources. These can be anything from storage, data centres, and security to servers and network components. Rackspace is an example of PaaS.
Here you can see just how broad cloud computing is, and the kinds of programmes you can have access to. Leveraging this broad range of services will accelerate your transformation and allow you to add on new programmes and systems. This can be scaled up or down depending on your business’s current situation. There is no need to install, or uninstall, anything and you don’t have to invest in more server space. You simply find the platform you want to use, and sign up – it’s as simple as that.
These technologies and platforms are of great value and will ultimately allow you to offer more bespoke customer services. This is because you’re using data-driven tools, as well as more advanced software, to do everything. From diving deep into customer analytics to using low code platforms to create enterprise-ready products in days. Cloud computing can give you a crucial advantage, regardless of your industry.
If you’re still yet to be convinced about cloud computing’s ability to be the catalyst for your digital transformation, then read on. We’re going to be listing a comprehensive range of benefits, 26 in total. We’ll look at how the cloud can benefit users, businesses, your IT infrastructure, bottom line, and IT security.
Advantages Of Cloud Computing
For the user…
- Easy access to key information: With everything being stored on just a handful of applications, it’s never been easier to access vital client information, customer data, or contact details no matter the time of day.
- Greater collaboration: Share, merge documents and provide feedback on one centralised piece of software. Wave goodbye to the days of having multiple versions of documents. Now, everyone will be able to view an up-to-date, live piece of work.
- Increased communication: Use instant messaging applications to quickly get information from colleagues, or check-in to see how their day is going. Understand what everyone is up to in seconds by accessing work management software.
- Ability to work remotely: Offer genuine remote working to employees who would benefit from it. By being able to offer remote work, you can expand your recruitment net and attract talent from across the globe.
- Freedom to adopt new platforms: Found a new platform that you think could be of interest? Simply sign up and use it. There are no long-winded installation procedures, or a dozen consultations to be had.
For your business…
- Flexibility: You can work anywhere with cloud computing. As long as you have an internet-connected device and an internet connection, you will be able to access all your important applications no matter where you are.
- Greater competitive advantage: Hundreds of businesses are still only just realising the potential of digital transformations. By adopting cloud computing now, you are putting yourself ahead of the competition.
- Innovate faster: Try new software, test it, review it, and decide if it’s useful, in a matter of days. This speed of innovation is a game-changer.
- Perfect for any business: Any business, no matter the size or sector, will, in some way, benefit from cloud computing.
- Provides real results: Once you have access you can start producing cutting-edge work, and developing your products, straight away.
- Easier to merge, diversify, or acquire new businesses: Merge data and applications with your newly acquired business in no time at all.
- Be more agile: By pulling from the cloud, you can enjoy the ability to download new pieces of software that solve problems, fast.
- More environmentally friendly: Not purchasing racks of servers reduces your power output as a business. Do your bit for the environment and store your data and programs in the shared cloud.
For your existing IT systems…
- Easy to transfer to the cloud: Taking gigabytes of data and storing them in the cloud takes seconds. Transferring to the cloud couldn’t be easier.
- Easier to manage your staff: Access a centralised database of staff records, check their schedules, and offer support in easier, more flexible ways.
- Unlimited storage: Very often, you get access to terabytes of storage as part of the package.
- Future proof your systems: The cloud isn’t going anywhere, once you have migrated there, your business is set for the next few decades.
- Automatic updates: No more surprise updates, because everything is online, updates occur automatically, during periods of low usage. All your applications will be updated, ready, and waiting for you.
For your revenue…
- Reduction in technology spending: Enjoy one simple monthly payment, as opposed to spending thousands of pounds on IT infrastructure, staff, and storage space. Migrating to the cloud is one of the most cost-effective things you can do.
- Monetise data: Using the right tools can give you insight into data. This insight can give you the right context to make business decisions that will help you grow your revenue.
- Reduced capital expenditure: With cloud applications carrying all the weight of maintenance, updates, and changes, your CapEx is reduced drastically.
- Plan costs: If you do expect costs to occur, you can plan for these accordingly, and budget more accurately.
For your IT security…
- Stronger security: Not only is all your data stored off-site but it’s also guarded by cutting-edge systems that would cost thousands of pounds to install yourself.
- Disaster recovery: The ability to recover lost data is so much faster on a cloud server that has weeks and months of previous versions stored.
- Instant backups: Versions of all your data will be automatically stored so you never have to worry about anything going missing.
- Immediate compliance: If you handle client data or financial information, you never have to think about whether the way you’re storing it is legal.
Get In Touch To Learn More About How We Can Help Your Business Benefit From These Opportunities
Digital transformations are positive things and should be thought of as such. Sadly, businesses try to do everything on their own and end up creating more problems than they solve and find themselves in limbo between some new tech, and old legacy systems. We recommend that you work with an IT support company such as Everything Tech because by doing so you can rest assured knowing you’re working with experts that will help you get everything right, and in place, the first time around.
To learn more about how our team can help you, please get in touch with us by phone on 0161 826 2220 or email us at [email protected]. We’re excited to hear about how we can help you create a truly digital-first business culture – one that benefits your team, your customers, and your bottom line.
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