06 Apr Coronavirus – driving businesses towards digital transformation
The vast majority of business leaders were aware of digital transformation long before the coronavirus pandemic tightened its grip on the world. In fact, many have already transformed their businesses to become far more digitally savvy; at the time of writing approximately 34 per cent of businesses have undergone a digital transformation of some sortbut what does digital transformation actually mean, and what benefits can it bring to the culture and operation of your business?
In short, digital transformation (DX) refers to the adoption of technology, digital processes and people to shift the culture of the organisation and drive the business better, towards achieving its strategic goals. DX is often both highly complex and all encompassing and a successful DX will have far reaching consequences throughout the business.
Here’s a brief list of some recent examples of successful digital transformation programmes, and what value DX has bought to the table:
Customer experience drives Porsche’s digital strategy. The luxury car manufacturer has invested heavily in understanding their customer base. Customer data is pulled into a central CRM and given a unique customer I.D. Every interaction and touch point is then documented to help the business to better understand the needs of their client base. The data gives Porsche the ability to carry out real-time segmentation and predictive intelligence, which enables them to maximise campaign success. For example, only customers that are actually interested in buying a car at that moment are contacted, leading to a significant increase in their overall sales conversion rate.
Long known for Windows, Office, and other top products, Microsoft saw increased competition from Apple, Amazon and other companies which were causing its stock prices to lag, so the company decided to re-think its strategy. Its solution was to create a more forward focused Cloud networking business, now commonly known to all as Azure. Microsoft shifted their focus away from traditional software to a cloud system that’s more fluid both for personal users as well as enterprise use. Microsoft also began to work with other technology and software companies to create lucrative partnerships.
One of the world’s top athletic shoes and clothing companies, Nike felt they were starting to become sluggish and outdated, but their leadership team didn’t hesitate to embark on a digital transformation to adjust the company’s mindset, supply chain, and brand to better connect with its customer base. The company focused on more powerful data analytics, updated its e-commerce strategy, created stronger digital marketing campaigns and ramped up its direct to customer sales. More efficient and effective use of digital consumer data led Nike to open concept stores, create more membership opportunities and improve the customer experience online and through apps.
As I write this article, it’s just been announced that Lloyds Banking Group have signed a 5 year deal worth £3bn with Google Cloud as part of their commitment to transform their business for success in a digital world. This will help to digitally empower the banks 30 million customer base and will build on the bank’s existing multicloud approach.
Digital transformation has already revolutionised how consumers shop, read, organise their finances, listen to music, and book taxis and hotels, to name but a few. In order to meet the demands of the modern customer.
Whilst Embarking on a large DX programme can seem daunting, only 2 weeks ago approximately one third of the world’s population had some kind of restriction placed on them due to the novel coronavirus (the vast majority of which were / still are locked-down). Thus businesses which had no previous plans to embark on a DX project in Q1 2020, suddenly found themselves in the middle of a DX Project, practically overnight.
Hallmarks of DX
Businesses that have digitally transformed (or were digitally native from the off) typically share these hallmarks:
Services that are run remotely in either a public, private, or hybrid cloud (as opposed to your legacy on premise infrastructure) are generally cheaper to run (you’re using co-located shared resource) and faster to scale – they also allow your business to react more quickly to change
They ingest both customer and internal data to analyse and understand exactly what is happening, why, and how it could be done better.
Flat cultural structures
As Peter Drucker once famously said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast!” Command and Control hierarchical structures are dead: flat structures empower people, embrace innovation, and give every team member a voice, without fear of reprimand. Platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams can massively assist in helping you to achieve this. If you’re not familiar with either, but have ever used FaceBook, think of a project structure organised like a FaceBook wall. Your project wall (channel) Is subscribed to by every project member and every time a message is posted, the full team have visibility. When harnessed correctly, you can very quickly find yourself with an empowered high performing team using this method of communication.
Strong mobile presence
A third of all purchases during the 2019 bank holiday shopping season were made on smartphones. It’s absolutely essential that you have a good mobile responsive website and presence (where 50 per cent of the world’s internet traffic is generated ) to capture your customers attention.
You will notice that none of the above points are associated with your core business; they’re all about how you do things. Businesses that have successfully digitally transformed generally don’t set out to change their core values, beliefs and services, but they do set seek to develop a better connected culture through transformational tools that will help support their strategic business goals.
Why is now a good time to start?
Small to medium sized businesses quite often have leaner structures and more fluid teams, which can aid with collaboration and transparency. However, they also tend to have smaller operating budgets, which means they should focus their efforts on specific goals that support the overall strategy for the business, such as improving customer experience or reducing operational costs through cloud services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has inadvertently catapulted DX to the forefront of many C-Level and senior managers minds over the last two weeks, albeit out of necessity and not choice, and at a point when they probably least expected it. Now more than ever, leaders are reliant on their teams to work better together and in a much more physically disaggregated environment, whilst delivering consistently and at a level that is required to keep the business in profit. There are many technology options available to you today that can help you to digitally transform, quickly, during these uncertain times. Don’t let your team and business suffer in silence.