Digital transformation is all the rage in business these days. It's a trend that really took off during the transition of remote work in early 2020 when you had to migrate to the internet just to run your daily operations. But going digital isn't a trend, it's a new way of doing business that is here to stay. Lots of small business owners find the digital transformation process frustrating because so much of the conversation surrounding digital transformation sounds like a lot of corporate jargon—which it is.
Here, we'll walk you through the steps of digital transformation in clear and comprehensible language, so you'll be a lot more comfortable making the switch.
In short, the meaning of digital transformation is using technology to increase the efficiency and productivity of your business. It's not just creating a remote operation, although that is a benefit for many entrepreneurs.
What is a digital transformation plan?
Simply put, a digital transformation plan is a strategic plan that focuses on integrating technology into every aspect of your business. The goal—obviously— is to boost your competitive edge in the marketplace, but before you get started, you've got to determine your objectives in going digital and how you're going to get there.
Every company has a unique set of needs for its digital transformation plan, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach. These are the most common objectives for small business owners.
- Improving the customer experience
- Using technology to build more efficient and cost-effective operations
- Implementing analytical tools to better understand trendlines
- Creating a framework that lets you easily adapt to a changing marketplace
What are the foundational parts of a digital transformation plan?
There are four foundational components to digital transformation implementation—technology, data, process, and organizational change.
This is the axis that the digital world spins on, and it's constantly evolving. Before you invest in the latest whiz-bang offerings—the ones that appear to let your company run itself—make sure that this is what you need. If you don't have an IT person, now is the time to find one, as they can guide you through the candyland of sweet new delights that could wind up giving you heartburn.
Data is information. More data is usually better, but how do you know if you've got it right? The challenge here is human—you've got to convince your team to focus on the information that they need, both now and in the future. Digital transformation makes it easier to collect and collate data so that you can create the baselines and benchmarks so you can measure your success.
Corporate speak for digital transformation process is the epitome of gobbledygook; it's really just herding cats. Hierarchical thinking is the mortal enemy of successful digital transformation. Incremental change is easier to implement than sweeping and transformative change, but for your project to work your team has to fully buy into the concept, leaving their individual silos and coming together in a new and customer-focused way.
Here's a truism that is pretty much based in fact. Technically inclined people struggle with the human side of change, while the right-brained crowd will dig in their heels and go out and buy more sticky notes. Ideally, you'll have "purple people" on your team who can bridge the gap between the two.
How should a digital transformation plan be structured?
Ask yourself these questions when you're structuring your digital transformation plan. The point is to have a clear goal in mind before you embark on the digital transformation journey; this gives you a much better chance for success. Do you need a better workflow? Is your CRM outdated? Do you need a stronger online presence? Figure all this out before you invest in new systems and processes.
- What are my business goals for the next year? Five years? Ten?
- What are the limitations of my current technology?
- What's a better technology for my business and goals?
- How will I incorporate these new technologies into the team’s workflow?
- Do the workflows need to change?
- How would I incorporate this into my team's workflows? Will our workflows need to change?
The roadmap for a digital transformation plan
Once you've identified your objectives and set your course, you need to bring your team on board.
- Explain the changes and why they are necessary—it's critical that they buy into the new normal.
- Work with an IT team or conduct your own research to determine the best technologies for your needs, with an eye towards a complete overhaul in tech rather than just installing band-aids that only make things messier when you migrate to the new system.
- Inform your customers of your digital transformation plans and implementation. They need to know that your changes will enhance their experience with your business.
It’s Time to Take Action
Here's one of the hardest things entrepreneurs have to do once they've executed their digital transformation—be ready to change course at a moment's notice. Although it seems counterintuitive, not to mention logistically challenging, this is the point of your new way of doing business. The technology you're using will make it easier to adapt to a changing marketplace so that your team can adjust as needed, and in the right places. Desktop.com offers solutions for small businesses to go digital, so why not start your transformation with Desktop.com today?