Covid-19 Made You Digitally Transform – Now It’s Time to Formalize It

Covid-19 Made You Digitally Transform - Now It's Time to Formalize It

It’s well-known in the digital transformation field that only 30% of transformations actually succeed. But, in this new COVID-19 era, chances are your organization has had to digitally transform at least to a small degree without you even calling it a transformation. It was, simply, what you had to do to survive.

Now it’s time to take those learnings, review them, and formalize them. Congratulations – you’re already one step ahead.

Read more: Maintaining business continuity in the face of COVID-19

Have you already digitally transformed? Chances are – yes

If you’re reading this article during the COVID-19 pandemic or any similar economic upheaval, and your organization is surviving, chances are you have already taken some small digital transformation steps.

These might include the digitization of documents, migrating to cloud storage systems, remote working, hosting online conference calls, retraining staff, developing new communications plans – all of which are elements of digital transformation. While there’s a lot more to the process (that we’re about to discuss), it’s important to acknowledge that if you’ve already taken these steps, you’re on the path.

The reality of the pandemic – temporary measures aren’t so temporary

At time of writing, the pandemic is expected to linger well into 2021. Plus, given how we’ve seen COVID-19 spread – accompanied with the fact that our world is only getting closer as travel becomes easier – there’s no doubt that future pandemics, perhaps of a similar or even greater nature, will also occur.

The ‘temporary’ measures that you’ve had to install in your business just aren’t so temporary. When we enact a change at the beginning of an event (i.e. the pandemic) and keep them running for the weeks, months, even years that it takes to get out the other side, those temporary measures could actually be qualified as permanent. 

Therefore, such measures must be treated like permanent transformations and that means going back through the due diligence process in hindsight. We’ll discuss how to formalize your new processes in just a moment.

Recognizing that digital transformation is about more than technology

Before we get too far ahead, it’s important to stop a moment and remember something absolutely critical to successful digital transformation – it’s about far more than technology. In fact, technology is only one of three key components: People, processes, technology.

Often, business leaders focus on the latter and forego the other two, which is one reason why 70% of companies simply fail to transform.

Governance, compliance, company culture, training, communications, responsibility and accountability, identifying change management champions, building new expertise and skills, restructuring teams for a new business model, rethinking the company’s value proposition – these are all additional elements of digital transformation that must be factored if it is to be a lasting success.

The benefits of digital transformation

We recognize that many organizations will have adapted to COVID-19 but might not be ready to buy into the entire transformation process, especially if it means rethinking critical elements of the company (such as its value proposition).

So, what are some of the benefits?

  1. Digital companies are 64% more likely to succeed in their business goals than their peers. (Adobe)
  2. Customers want digital options – for example, 37% of healthcare customers are ‘very likely’ to use telehealth in future, due to changes brought on by the pandemic (McKinsey), while 42% of US shoppers said they don’t intend to return to brick and mortar stores after lockdown restrictions have lifted. (Forrester)
  3. By 2023, digitally transformed companies are expected to drive more share of worldwide GDP than non-digital organizations, at a rate of 53.3% GDP share to 49.1%. (Statista)
  4. Executives say the top benefits of digital transformation are improved operational efficiency (40%), time to market (36%) and customer experience (35%). (PTC)
  5. More companies reported higher revenue growth and net profit margins when they were digitally mature (45% and 43% respectively) than less mature (15% and 15% respectively). (Deloitte)

5 steps to making your digital transformation official – and successful

1. Consider it an investment, not a reaction

Even before the pandemic, companies that couldn’t transform were trailing behind their competitors. Look at digital transformation as an investment in your future, not just to get through COVID-19, but for the years beyond.

Review your value proposition, objectives, even mission statement. There could be an opportunity to digitally transform not just at the technology level, but right to the heart of the business. Consider the gin distilleries that started selling hand sanitizer, the universities offering remote courses for the first time, or the doctors switching to telehealth for simple GP appointments.

2. Listen to your people

Your people are on the ground right now, talking to customers and each other, using the new tools and processes you’ve bolted onto your business to survive COVID-19, and chances are they know best.

Regarding your quick fixes and temporary transformations, listen to their feedback. What went wrong? What went right? What was, or was not, effective at helping them succeed this year?

This information could be critical to settling on which fixes to make permanent, and which to discard.

3. Invest in your team

We know that most digital transformations fail. True, lasting transformation requires significant change at all levels of the organization, including the top. In fact, top-down change is one of the most important ways to tackle digital transformation, as setting the tone at the top can create a model of behavior to follow throughout the rest of the company.

So, start at the board and work your way down. Change the mindset at each level from change-resistant to change-champion. Invest in communication and training, so you can bring your existing staff along with you on this journey. And, when you’ve identified that there are still gaps in the business, invest in new talent and skills to bring you into the modern era and take you beyond.

4. Invest in proven technology

While digital transformation is not wholly about technology, that’s still a key portion.

Look for reliable, proven technology solutions that can save money or improve revenue. For example, artificial intelligence and machine learning are driving some of the biggest changes in our world, allowing companies to automate, personalize and improve all manner of challenges that were previously insurmountable.

Chances are you’ve already taken some of these first steps by employing new vendors and service contracts to keep you going throughout the pandemic. Now it’s time to review those contracts, check the numbers, decide whether their implementation has been successful, and make a call on whether these solutions are still right for you. You may need to revisit the agreements or switch vendors.

5. Find quick wins

Success breeds success. As you move to cement your temporary processes and overhaul other parts of the business, showing some quick wins could help you gain the buy-in you need to increase your budget, or simply get key stakeholders on-side.

Have you considered these quick wins in your company?

  • Sharing platforms: To quickly share key documents and contracts with staff and clients/customers.
  • Video conferencing and chat tools: To improve communication between remote workers during and between meetings.
  • Remote virtual assistance: To enable customer service employees to continue to assist customers while working remotely.
  • Chatbots: To handle frequently asked questions and minor problems online, helping manage traffic spikes during online shopping seasons.

In summary: You’re already halfway there, now take the next steps

We can’t say it enough – digital transformation is more than technology. It’s an interconnected web of people, processes and tools that combine to completely overhaul a company from top to bottom. In reality, “digital transformation” as a term can be misleading, given the amount of work necessary that doesn’t involve digital technology itself.

If you’re not sure where to go from here or need extra guidance on transforming your temporary fixes into fully fledged new processes, sign up to our webinar to hear the advice of a real digital transformation expert.

Or, for personalized guidance, contact us for a free maturity consultation

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