It’s the age of robots. Of self-driving cars and smart homes. Of booking a plot on Mars!
Did I exaggerate a bit too much there? Probably. But take a closer look around you. Notice how we are completely dependent on technology for performing some of our most basic tasks? We have robots cleaning our floors, we have self-driving cars roaming our streets and, yea, there are companies selling land on Mars!
It may seem dramatic, but the fact is we are living in a technological age that demands businesses as well as individuals to keep up with the Zuckerbergs and the Musks if they want to be successful.
As a digital transformation expert, I see digital disruption happening across the globe. Businesses that ignored digitization have vanished from the earth (Kodak, Blackberry, Nokia). Businesses that are adopting technology and digital processes have higher chances of remaining relevant and successful than their traditional counterparts.
But What is Digital Transformation & Why Should I Care?
Digital transformation is defined as the process of adopting digital technologies, platforms, and processes to improve, accelerate and sustain business activities, models and processes. It is a strategic move that enables a business to leverage modern digital technologies to remain relevant & profitable in a highly dynamic and rapidly changing world.
In simpler terms - digital transformation is when you as a business are ready to take your company through a radical shift in order to:
- meet high customer expectations
- adapt to an uncertain economy
- deal with workforce & skills shortages
- manage internal processes and operations
create offers, services and products that keep your customers at the forefront
Take for example, the New York Times, America’s oldest media organizations founded in 1851. You’d think a giant news corp like the NYT could never fade into oblivion, right? But, it did. The onset of technology threatened the very existence of NYT and many other news outlets.
The Atlantic reports, ‘Between 2000 and 2015, print newspaper advertising revenue fell from about $60 billion to about $20 billion, wiping out the gains of the previous 50 years.’
Decades ago, people bought newspapers at newsstands and mulled over them in subways and train stations - but today people want the news to be delivered to them right on their phone, wherever there are. And they are willing to pay for it.
This very crucial understanding helped NYT transition into the digital world. Unlike their competitors who scoffed the importance of digital technology and failed, NYT invested in it.
NYT initiated the subscription model in 2011 and hired over 100 tech employees to strengthen user experience with their multi-platform app. Not only did they limit themselves to one app, but they also diversified with multiple product offerings including the two widely popular Opinion App cooking app. The overall strategy evolved and it was no longer limited to news, but it catered to the very lifestyle of its customers.
NYT’s early digital transformation set it apart from the rest and today, the publication continues to enjoy profits, brand loyalty, and sustainability in a volatile market.
So, why do you have to care?
Quite simply, you have to care if you want to remain in the market and continue to be profitable.
Alright, What Do I Need to Do to Go Digital?
Although going digital is the call of the day, it doesn’t mean you have to be in a hurry and jump the bandwagon.
As I said earlier, digital transformation is a strategic move.
- You may need to assemble your team of executives and study deeply the organization’s perspectives of customers, employees, processes, metrics, business models, and technology.
- You may need to develop digital literacy among core team members to truly understand the purpose and the eventual tasks you’ll need to perform to move into digital.
- You may be required to hire new team members, with a special focus on tech innovation.
- You have to be willing to let go of outdated practices and replace them with innovation especially if they are costing your organization exponentially in terms of money, time and effort.
- You need to have a plan. You need KPIs. You need trials and experimentation. You need data monitoring and evaluation.
It’s almost akin to building a new branch of your business. Luckily, digital transformation is an easier process. All you need is a solid plan, a strong purpose and the willingness to conquer new territory.
A McKinsey Advice
According to an interview published in McKinsey’, there are four digital transformation challenges enterprises or organizations need to address:
- Clarity: Why do you want to go digital? What does it mean for you and your business?
- Urgency: How fast do you want to go through the transformation? Urgency is a huge determinant of your project timeline, costs and commitment.
- Planning: How do you scale or make the move without disrupting the current setup and affecting your customers, employees and organizational process?
- Change: How do you actually make the transition and prepare your staff or your customers for it?
Whether you’re a small business or a large firm, you need to create a framework that can take you through the stages of observation, experimentation, growth and commitment to remain relevant and sustainable.
Digitization has caused many casualties, but it has also empowered thousands of SMBs, mid and large level enterprises to scale exponentially.
This is the best time to act quickly to digital transformation. In the age when machines and humans are almost synced, you can’t afford to ignore the digital revolution.