Digital transformation (sometimes referred to as DX) is a term that goes in and out of style, but it’s common definition remains the same:
Digital transformation is the application of digital technologies to fundamentally impact all aspects of business and society.
What does that mean though?
At the most basic level, DX is the shift from analog tools like paper forms, snail mail, and the like to their digital counterparts. However, such small changes aren’t the earth-shattering transformations that people claim are necessary for businesses to survive, and quite frankly, there aren’t many people arguing against the benefits of improved communications and streamlined office practices. So where does that leave us?
Taking a deep dive into digital transformation
The Enterprisers Project takes the typical DX definition and makes it a bit more specific:
Digital transformation [is] the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers. Beyond that, it’s a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment often, and get comfortable with failure. [emphasis ours]
This means that DX isn’t just the physical act of changing how we work, such as moving from using snail mail and memos to emails and Slack. More importantly, there must be a simultaneous culture shift as new systems come into play. Such fungibility, or the ability to be changed, on the part of the organization and its members, is of the utmost importance.
What digital transformation can do for your business
The convergence of the following three things brings shifts to the marketplace:
- Changing consumer demand
- Changing technology
- Changing competition
You, as a market player, need to recognize when any of these three factors shift and adjust your strategy accordingly. If not, there may come a point when your operating model is no longer the best fit for your clients’ needs.
Ideally, you’ll have spotted and acted on new opportunities preemptively, but if not, you must change before you become obsolete. DX is a framework you can use to implement these changes.
As we previously discussed, there are two components to digital transformation:
- Digitization: Using technology to improve the existing way of working without changing its fundamentals
- Transformation: The ability to change culturally, so the business can move gracefully from one method of operating and delivering value to their customers to another
Without both, a business can’t really capture the full value of DX. Many stop short, ignoring the need for transformation after digitization. But, if you fully embrace DX, this can give you an advantage over competitors.
DX is a survival issue for many, but it needs to be implemented fully and correctly for businesses reap its benefits.
The digital transformation process and its effect on your organization
Your specific needs during the DX process will vary depending upon the demands and challenges you face. Just as no two companies function in exactly the same away, no two companies will implement DX identically. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain themes and common threads to which you should pay attention.
Digital transformation is a people issue
As a whole, the DX process is an overhaul of how a company functions on a day-to-day basis. These large changes require the cooperation of many to be successful, and rapid changes unilaterally implemented tend to go over like a lead balloon. In many ways, incremental change can be easier to swallow, especially if couched in terms of “we’re making the company more adaptable” instead of “we’re adapting because we have to.”
This change needs to be embraced from the top with senior leadership team members focusing on securing company-wide support and collaboration.
From the outset of the DX process, it’s important to look at the big picture and consider how changes will impact your organization as a whole. As we’ve previously established, DX is mandatory for surviving in today’s marketplace, but there are many pitfalls during the implementation pipeline.
Not only do you have the typical slowdowns as a result of existing processes used by your IT, legal, and HR (and other) teams, you have individual members who must change along with the company. To enact the change that you’re wanting to see, your staff might have to learn new skills and be comfortable doing things differently. They have to see IT not just as “those guys who fix the computers,” but as key members driving the company’s shifts. Finally, everyone will be developing new relationships with others, especially those on other teams, and your organization shifts to an increasingly cross-functional model. When the silos between your teams come down as a result of DX, people will need time to regain their bearings, so to speak. As such, Marc Carrel-Billiard, the global tech R&D Lead on digital transformation at Accenture, says that finding ways to help people across this digital divide and the culture shock that rapid change brings is going to be just as important as the technology we use to get there.
Digital transformation isn’t just the use of new technological tools in place of old, analog ones. It’s a fundamental cultural shift so that organizations embrace both change and the ability to be changed. Without such adaptability, businesses run the risk of obsolescence and loss of market share as they prove increasingly incapable of meeting the needs and wants of their customer base.
Such change doesn’t necessarily come easy, however, so contact Rigor today to see how we can help you with your organization’s digital transformation. With our deep knowledge of how to provide a great customer experience, accessible interface providing easy-to-use data to drive decision making, and integrations with tools like JIRA, we can make your shift as seamless as possible.
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