Digital transformation is the process of businesses adapting to new technological advancements. In this article, we’ll go over why this is important, 5 of the most common enablers of digital transformation, and tips for implementing your own digital transformation strategy.
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Technological advancements aren’t slowing down.
And when it comes to business, it’s crucial for companies to adapt and embrace new software and digital tools to remain competitive.
This process, known as digital transformation, is key for streamlining operations, improving customer experiences, and increasing your bottom line.
What is Digital Transformation?
Have you heard the term digital transformation before but aren’t quite sure what it means? If so, you’re not alone. It’s one of those buzz phrases that gets thrown around a lot and may have different meanings depending on who you’re speaking to.
However, digital transformation can be defined as the need for organizations to change their operating models to adapt to advancements in technology.
As McKinsey puts it, “The goal of a digital transformation should be to build a competitive advantage by continuously deploying tech at scale to improve customer experience and lower costs.”
While it may sound complex, it’s actually fairly straightforward: Digital transformation places technology at the center of business strategy and business models.
For companies to remain competitive, they need to take advantage of technology and remain up to date with the latest advancements.
Is Digital Transformation in Business Really That Important?
The short answer is: yes.
Digital technology, from smartphones to AI and even social media, increases both customer and employee expectations, produces better results in the workplace, and helps businesses work more efficiently.
In fact, digital transformation is a top priority for 74% of businesses.
But let’s break down why digital transformation in business is so important:
Changes in customer and employee expectations
In the past three years, two major drivers of digital transformation have altered customer and employee expectations: the rapid advancement of technology and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Technology has made it possible to do practically everything at warp speed. 92% of Americans now have smartphones, making it possible to send messages, create schedules, and place orders, all from the palm of your hand.
And when the pandemic forced many businesses to quickly shift their operations online, people got used to doing everything digitally.
As a result, the business landscape evolved. Employee and customer expectations have shifted, and both expect businesses to accomplish tasks quickly and on the go. This is only possible with the right technology.
Increased efficiency in the workplace
Technology allows businesses to work smarter instead of harder by automating processes and simplifying employee communication and collaboration. Small businesses can level up and compete with larger companies, too.
As a result of technology in the workplace, companies are able to work more efficiently and be more productive.
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Technology saves businesses money and increases profits
Increased efficiency saves businesses money. Consider a small restaurant using pen and paper to take customer orders. Instead of inputting orders quickly into a POS system and immediately returning to the floor, servers have to handwrite orders and walk them to the kitchen.
This comes with many disadvantages: It increases the chances of kitchen staff misreading orders, takes longer for them to process them, and slows down overall service. However, implementing a POS system solves both of these problems: the restaurant has less wasted inventory, faster table turnover, and increased sales potential.
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Businesses can more easily manage resources
Activities like schedule creation, document storage, customer management, payroll, and communication can be done in one place.
Data-driven decision-making is key
Steve Jobs said: “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition; they somehow already know what you want to become.”
And he isn’t wrong. But when it comes to business success, it’s not only about intuition; at the end of the day, it comes down to the numbers. Technology helps businesses collect and analyze data so they can make better projections and decisions.
Digital transformation leads to better employee engagement
It’s no secret that when employees are engaged and happy at work, they’re likely to stay at a company longer and be more productive. And as it turns out, 63.3% of companies say retaining employees is actually harder than hiring them, so it’s worth investing in employee engagement.
Fortunately, digital transformation in business can have a direct effect on how happy and engaged your team members are. Technology provides digital platforms for communication, collaboration, and recognition, fostering a sense of connectivity, efficiency, and empowerment within the workforce.
What are the Driving Technologies Behind Digital Transformation?
Think about it: our ancestors could never have dreamed that they’d be able to flip a switch and turn on a light. Or that they could jump into a car and drive somewhere. The evolution of technology began millions of years ago with sticks and stones, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that it really began to advance at a rapid pace.
One of the best examples of technology moving at warp speed is ChatGPT. OpenAI introduced us to the world’s most advanced AI chatbot in November 2022 and reached one million users within 5 days of launching. Between April and June 2023, ChatGPT hit a whopping 100 million users, a record for any online platform (it took TikTok 9 months to hit this milestone).
Now, 9 months after launching, ChatGPT has become a household name and is utilized by businesses worldwide.
Now, let’s take a look at 5 types of transformative technologies pushing digital transformation in business:
Internet of things (IoT)
The Internet of Things, or IoT, describes how devices are able to automatically communicate and connect with each other through sensors and other types of software. Examples of IoT are anything smart; smartphones, smart cars, smart refrigerators, smart home security systems, and the list goes on.
IoT automates business processes that once had to be done manually. Manufacturing plants, for example, are incorporating this technology to collect production data, optimize predictive maintenance, and have better supply chain visibility.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI refers to programs and software that learn to think and make decisions independently with information and data that’s fed to them. This is referred to as machine learning, and the more information AI programs learn, the smarter they become.
For businesses, AI can learn patterns to help automate processes and solve complex problems. This is why ChatGPT has been such a useful tool.
One industry that’s jumping on the AI bandwagon is construction. “Artificial intelligence will transform the construction industry in the next 10 years more than any other construction technology in the last 100 years,” says James Barrett, Vice President and Chief Innovation Office of Turner Construction Company.
The construction industry relies on detailed project management, safety compliance, and cost efficiency to get jobs done, and these are all areas AI can streamline.
The cloud has enabled businesses to more easily access tools and apps that foster better team collaboration, increase access to data, and create better business outcomes.
Cloud-based apps are secure, much more affordable than on-premise software, allow businesses to scale more easily, and are usually accessible from mobile devices. They also simplify workflows for employees, employers, and customers.
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Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)
Utilizing eye-tracking technology through smart glasses, VR and AR work together to simulate real-world and hands-on experiences. When users put on these headsets, VR creates a simulated environment that only they can see. Then, AR places images or interactions into the simulated environment.
Companies use this technology to train employees by placing them in simulated scenarios. For example, Volkswagen uses VR and AR to train its technicians how to repair cars. Not only is this practical, but it ensures that all Volkswagen technicians have the same training.
If you’re familiar with Bitcoin or NFTs, then you’re already aware of blockchain technologies. To put it simply, blockchain is like a secure and transparent digital notebook where transactions are written down. This digital notebook, often referred to as a ledger, is unique because there’s no one person or company in charge of it; instead, many computers work together to keep the information safe, making it very difficult for anyone to mess with the records.
In industries like supply chain management, healthcare, and finance, blockchain can ensure transparent and verifiable records, helping to maintain compliance and reducing the risk of fraud.
Tips for Implementing Digital Transformation
Remember: digital transformation implies a complete, holistic business transformation and is a complex process that should be implemented over time.
The first step is to create a digital transformation strategy.
Here are 5 tips to help you get started:
Focus on complete processes instead of individual steps
For example, if you want to digitize and automate attendance tracking, consider everything that’s involved. You won’t just need a digital employee time clock, but instead, a system that allows you to automate the entire attendance tracking process, including scheduling, time-off management, and payroll.
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It includes everything your business needs—from employee scheduling and time tracking to task management and internal communication.
The technologies you implement should allow your business to scale
Digital transformation is all about growing your business and maximizing its potential. Any changes you incorporate should be sustainable for the long term and support your growing business.
Data, tools, and resources should be available at all times
For your digital transformation efforts to be successful, your team needs to be a part of the process. Technology should make everyones life easier by streamlining processes, digitizing tools, and allowing employees to work independently.
This means that your team not only needs to understand how to use the new technologies, but they should be able to access important resources whenever they need them.
Be flexible and ready to adapt
Anytime you implement changes in your business, you should be prepared for some hiccups along the way. You may find that certain technologies are not a good fit for your company.
One of the best ways to measure digital transformation success is to ask those who interact with the new tools on a daily basis: your employees. Consider sending out surveys or live polls to gather feedback and gauge your team’s satisfaction with the new processes.
Make sure you have technical support
No business can achieve digital transformation on its own; it’s crucial to have a support team in place to solve glitches as they arise. If taking advantage of new software, make sure it has excellent 24/7 customer support. You may even find it necessary to hire an IT specialist.
The Future of Business is Now
The progression of the digital age means businesses need to work hard to keep up. Staying on top of modern technology is an important part of both customer and employee satisfaction, and companies should prioritize implementing a digital transformation that works for them.
Do your research to find out which technologies can strengthen your business and how to implement them. Look for solutions that make everyone’s life easier: resources and data should be consolidated and easy to access, employees should be able to collaborate more effectively, and your business should be able to scale.
An employee management app, like Connecteam, is an excellent solution for businesses that want to run more efficiently. Implementing this cloud-based solution can be the start of your company’s own digital transformation.