Digital Transformation: Three Steps to Success
A recent study by Microsoft suggests that 48% of South African organisations are already en route to digital transformation, with an additional 44% planning to start their journeys within the next year. However, the term digital transformation can have many different faces, and has come to mean different things for different businesses. Nevertheless, the end goal remains the same. All organisations want to cut costs, improve profits, and leave their customers and employees feeling satisfied. But to achieve this goal, certain steps must be taken, beginning with the development of an actionable strategy for implementation.
Step #1 – Develop a Strategy
The international business landscape is hypercompetitive and fast-moving, making digital the only option for an organisation that hopes to stay relevant and competitive. But before you jump on the bandwagon, you must first outline your vision and then develop a strategy to bring that vision to life. You cannot possibly get where you want to go unless you know how to get there, and that is why the planning phase is so essential to digital transformation. Establish your most pressing concerns, your goals and your budget before diving in.
Step #2 – Embrace New Technology
We have first-hand knowledge about the potential benefits of digital transformation, having witnessed the rise of trends including cloud and edge computing. Such developments open the doors of opportunity, and as a result our workforce has become mobile, and business models like “software-as-a-service” have seen a massive surge in popularity. The digital revolution has been spurred on by innovation, giving rise to incredibly powerful tech solutions and allowing affordable services to become available to businesses from suppliers across the world. Furthermore, adopting digital tools enables a business to improve customer satisfaction and delivery of services. To ensure the success of your transformation, you must identify and obtain the correct technology to meet your targets and goals.
One such example is Internet connectivity – a vital aspect of modern business and one without which you cannot expect to see long-term success. Realising the full potential of your organisation is not, however, solely based on your ability to connect to the World Wide Web. It also has a lot to do with the quality and speed of your connection. Without the ability to service your customers efficiently, your dream of becoming a big industry player will surely fall by the wayside. It is for this very reason that reliable, high-speed fibre connectivity is growing in popularity.
Step #3 – Adapting Company Culture
Developing a strategy and adopting new technology are both fairly simple to achieve, so why does digital transformation sometimes fail? Company culture seems to be the biggest hurdle on the track to digital transformation. In fact, research shows that company culture is a central contributor to success or failure in this regard. There are a number of challenges when it comes to this kind of change, particularly for a business with a deeply ingrained legacy culture. Converting to a model that is digitally-driven requires participation at all levels, from the ExCo to the IT department, and ultimately the end users – everyone plays their part in implementing new processes. South Africa’s business leaders must now begin considering how their company’s culture will impact on their switch to digital. You can combat cultural resistance by employing change agents, clearing a path for collaboration and communication with staff, and offering specialised training for those who are hesitant to tackle the use of new tech.
It is important to remember that transformation doesn’t happen overnight and requires an upfront investment. International Data Corporation (IDC) and Microsoft South Africa recently undertook research which suggests 20% of South African organisations do not believe digital transformation is relevant. A further 80% state a lack of funding as the primary reason they are hesitant to invest. These organisations are failing to see the bigger picture –tech adoption is essential in the Digital Era, and is a tool that can optimise their operations, increase their responsiveness, enhance service levels and cut costs.
As South Africa enters a new age of connectedness, it remains to be seen how key decision-makers will implement the necessary steps to succeed – and how many organisations, both large and small, will become obsolete as they fail to make the most of innovative new technologies that could dramatically help their cause.