Will digital transformation help you compete in the digital economy?

Toby Alcock

Digital transformation is more than just the adoption of technologies to improve products and processes. It is a journey with the ultimate goal of digitising legacy or analogue functions to reap the benefits of scale, automation and speed. The result is a digitally transformed business with empowered employees, engaged customers and optimised operations which unlocks business value and to provide competitive advantage.

Companies have been seemingly ‘digitally transforming’ for years but realistically most are likely to have been mislabelling incremental change to digitise as true digital transformation. Whilst the former may address the need to remain relevant in an ever more digital world to keep up with competitors, the latter should look to build real, long-term competitive advantage when deployed correctly.

Many companies were forced to accelerate their digital metamorphosis due to the pandemic. Whilst some changes may stay, this wave of accelerated digital technology adoption must not be confused with the true digital transformation needed for long-term success.

Adopting modern technology is not guaranteed to meet business needs in our rapidly changing environment. The needs of customers are likely to evolve and change, and technology adopted to play digital ‘catch-up’ with competitors will not necessarily help businesses stay ahead of the competition.

Businesses need to have a clear understanding of the distinction between digital catch-up and true digital transformation. Transformation requires businesses to reimagine not just how they work but the way in which they create value for both themselves and their customers. No matter how many digital initiatives you implement, you can’t expect to advance over competitors by adopting the same technologies.

Around 58 percent of businesses are using this post-pandemic period to capitalise on the learning from the forced experiment of digitising their operating models to survive. As a result, they are looking to overhaul the way they adopt and implement new tech, with 66 percent of large businesses committing to giving their digital transformation strategy a reboot in 2021.

True digital transformation is a journey, not a destination

Remember that digital transformation is an overall organisational change that helps businesses leverage innovative technologies to adapt, remain competitive and stay profitable. Ultimately, it’s an ongoing journey. An effective digital transformation doesn’t force companies to take a leap in the dark and transform the entire business overnight or retrain an entire workforce to start seeing the benefits. Instead, it should take a lifecycle approach. Assessing the current state-of-play, including identifying any roadblocks and security considerations, creating a migration strategy to transform that allows for future innovation and quick workload migration, and built-in scalability to respond to customer demand whilst maintaining security and performance through managed services.

Digital transformation is a process that evolves to address growth, efficiency and customer experience and support wider business objectives. It’s about optimising existing processes to be better, faster and deliver greater return on investment, while also creating new practices that enable the business to accomplish things that were not possible before. Digital transformation is as much an organisational transformation as a business one. Being digital at the core means every part of the business needs to be adapted with a digital-first mindset and data at the heart — digital-first in exploring new methods of operation and infrastructure, with data used to inform and influence decisions.

For example, a specialist medical care provider approached us looking to transform their practice through data-driven clinical decision-making. They wanted to ‘virtualise’ care and integrate venues while keeping patients at the centre. Working with their team, we created a tailored infrastructure and managed service solution, that leveraged the latest technologies. This allowed them to maximise efficiency, and provide a better user experience for staff which ultimately improved patient care.

Finding success, the first time

A recent study found 73 percent of enterprises failed to gain any business value whatsoever from their digital transformation efforts. Furthermore, 78 percent failed to meet their business objectives, meaning only a staggering 22 percent achieved the intended results. So, why are so many businesses getting it wrong?

On a practical level, getting the job of digital transformation right requires drawing up a clearly defined roadmap to manage the process in a structured way. A successful digital roadmap begins with an assessment of the digital maturity of the organisation and moves on to create a definition of where you want to be. To know where you are going, you need to know where to start.

The best roadmaps are those aligned with business strategy from the top-down and the bottom-up. From the top-down, the big picture goals need to be broken down into executable tactics and translated into significant business outcomes. From the bottom-up, customer and user insights need to be fed back to executives who can monitor progress and make necessary revisions.

Digital transformation should follow a phased approach, reducing the risk of company downtime. It also means businesses can tailor their transformation as required for specific departmental needs. From there, organisations can scale the changes in their digital strategy to ensure seamless company-wide integration.

Despite the benefits of a company-wide transformation and a pandemic induced acceleration in digital strategies, companies are often hesitant to move away from current technologies and processes and take the first step. Entering the unknown is scary and many simply don’t have the expertise, or in-house talent to tackle this. Working with a knowledgeable technology partner can simplify and streamline the process. Businesses get to focus on their day-to-day responsibilities while the technology partner manages the end-to-end digital transformation process providing the expertise, technical skills, and resources for continued success.

For more information on how Logicalis can help your business harness the benefits of true digital transformation, get in touch at info@logicalis.com