By Rick Delgado
It’s time for companies to fully move into the digital era. How we promote and market our businesses is changing rapidly, and no matter how small your company the need to change can no longer be ignored. Business success is now dependent on the use of technology. However, many businesses struggle with making the transition into this new digital era, especially due to its daunting overhaul and the misunderstanding that going digital means adopting just one specific technology. Additionally, there are large gaps with outdated technology and a talent shortage that can hamper progress. But the switch over to digitalization does not need to be a painful one, so here are a few tips to help you finally get moving.
To start, companies need a business strategy for the digital era. Look at how digitalization will impact your industry and how it can fit with your ambitions. Take the time to assess just exactly how advanced you want to be in terms of digitalization. You will need to articulate a corporate strategy that stipulates digital goals with overall business goals. Are you looking to lead the industry in digitalization? Do you need to recover lost ground with competitors? CIOs will need to align IT departments with this business strategy. In fact, collaboration is a huge key to making a successful move into the digital era. By creating a more collaborative business strategy, you can create an environment that fosters innovation and therefore use that to shape the agenda, finally building a digital ecosystem within your organization. Your new business strategy can center either on increasing revenue, realizing efficiencies or even reimagining the entire industry or business.
Secondly, you need to identify the areas of your business that will most benefit from digitalization and how. Most companies benefit from focusing on these three priorities: moving to the cloud, using big data and analytics, and digitalizing customer experience. Through determining digital focus areas, you can identify the specific tools and platforms you will need to use to transform your business. Such tools might include 3D printing or drones, or other process automation tools to speed up manufacturing processes or if you are already in the big data sector, platforms like converged storage or hybrid cloud storage could become new areas of focus.
If your company is looking to disrupt the industry, an innovation lab or experimental pilot projects could be the platform you need to look at. Additionally to this, you will need to decide if there is a need for a CDO to lead your digital move. If you are still in the early stages of the move, a CDO might be a premature gesture. If not, your business may be ready for a single executive with the authority to oversee and advance digital strategy. Or you may be far past this and need a larger number of managers and committees to drive the innovation.
Next, it is wise to make digitalization an organization-wide move. The IT department or marketing departments should not be the only ones collaborating. For example, committees can be created like one that comprises both tech and business unit representatives to that will decide on important digital initiatives. Departments will need to set aside their own self-interest and focus on the new digital strategy that will be implemented. You can incentivize employees to aid in this by measuring an individual’s willingness and ability to collaborate.
Finally, you need to develop digital skills and build partnerships in order to help supplement your strengths. Here you will need to decide whether you will train people internally to strengthen the company’s digital skill level, or if you will partner with another organization to do the training, or if you will acquire a tech company to merge into yours and take over certain areas such as data analytics, digital enterprise or cybersecurity.
Moving your business into the digital era can create a myriad of benefits such as increased efficiency and revenues, stronger customer orientation and improved business operations. Digitalization can harness the power of tech to reimagine the customer experience, accelerate change, solve problems and reinvent the business model. By making the move, digital can become the main component that will help you compete in today’s industries. It will help you to grow your business by adding specific digital services and products to your portfolio, or by selling existing services and products through digital channels. Digitalization has also helped companies to answer the demand of a more personal and customized approach to the shopping experience from customers.
Rick Delgado is a technology commentator and writer. Follow him @ricknotdelgado.