What is a digital transformation?
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Digital transformation may be the buzzword du jour, but it’s more than just hype. Done well, it has the power to reduce your operating costs, improve time-to-market and open new product lines and revenue streams for your business.
To define digital transformation, it’s useful to first understand what it isn’t: It doesn’t mean simply digitizing your business, updating your existing technology, or investing in more digital marketing. It’s a multi-step process that should touch every function of your organization. The purpose of a digital transformation is to create new ways of working that will scale with your business. It’s a long-term strategic plan that not only includes new technology to automate manual tasks, but also puts the focus on your customer like never before.
To digitally transform, your business leaders should focus on adopting tools and enabling technologies that allow all your teams to work better. If manual tasks are eliminated, your smart, talented employees can focus on more important work: strategy and innovation. Of course, this has cultural benefits as well, as the more interesting, challenging work will keep your employees engaged and improve retention.
To choose new technologies in a strategic way, focus on a multi-level data collection: Hear from the leaders, the practitioners, and get a clear picture of how cross-functional teams work together. Your tooling should not only improve the workflow for individuals, but also help to remove organizational silos by sharing information and fostering collaboration.
This inevitably leads to adopting new operating models. Enabled by your technology, your digital-first operating model needs to be data-driven. The way to do this is to focus on your customer, collecting as much information about them as you can, and using it to craft strategy that leads your company to best serve their needs.
Digital transformation should ideally get every one of your employees thinking customer-first. However, just telling them to do this won’t help. To get to a customer focus, leadership should have an employee focus. How can processes be streamlined? How can we empower employees to shift their focus to higher-value tasks? Can our processes scale with our company?
This is a major culture shift that will require psychological safety: The feeling that taking risks will not lead to negative consequences, but will be met with continued respect and acceptance. We’ve written about culture in digital transformation before, and feel it is critical to your success. Culture is the x factor—you can’t know exactly where your digital transformation will lead you. If your teams have the power to make mistakes and pursue innovation, they will lead you to some pretty amazing results.
The steps of a digital transformation look different for every business. For the Hudson’s Bay Company, a key component was creating a state-of-the-art warehouse with a robotic pick-and-pack system. For Nike, their fast-paced, multi-step digital transformation included creating a brand new, digitally-enabled concept store in Guangzhou, China, with experiences powered by loyalty member data, and real-time, real life sporting events in the city.
Because there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, it can be helpful to have a partner to plot your roadmap based on your company goals, and help you see them through. To get an idea of what Rangle can help you achieve, check out the Our Capabilities page. For a deeper dive into one of our digital transformation processes, you can learn how design systems improve capital efficiency. We consider design systems a key component of many transformations for enterprise-level organizations. You can improve your understanding of them here.