Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to transform every part of an organization, from the experience of the end user (or customer) to the internal structure, workflow and processes used to deliver products and services. Thriving in the age of connectivity, data and automation requires every business to undergo digital transformation.
Digital transformation begins (and continues) with data
Digital transformation is made possible by the unprecedented availability of data. New technologies, from web browsers to CRMs to mobile devices to tracking software, and everything in between, make it possible for organizations to collect an incredible amount of information about their industries, products, customers and even the way they themselves operate.
Leveraging data to understand more about customers, their problems and the way they use (or don't use) products and services opens the door to entirely new insights on how to better run a company and add value to the end user.
Digital transformation for the customer
People's lives around the world are becoming increasingly digital. We use digital platforms for shopping, banking, transportation, ordering groceries and more. Our "offline" experiences are becoming increasingly digitized as well, as we capture and share those experiences online or interact with connected hardware at home and at work.
The data that makes digital transformation possible is uncovering the thousands of touch points we experience as consumers, from the moment we begin research to fill a need or desire, to our continued use of a product or service.
Ultimately, digital transformation is all about the customer.
The goal of digital transformation is to create a better experience for customers at every single one of those touch points. Data allows companies to understand those interactions, then technology—from software to touch-screen devices and audio interfaces like Siri and Alexa—empower organizations to create better experiences and remove friction at every step.
This is good news for consumers, who will increasingly enjoy more convenient, more personalized and higher value interactions and transactions with companies.
Digital transformation inside of an organization
Digital transformation impacts more than just the consumer experience, though. The very effort of an organization to optimize every touch point for their customers transforms the organization itself.
All of the inner workings of a company and even the culture of the company itself are ripe for digital transformation themselves. Data, software and other technologies are completely transforming the way that both individuals and teams within companies communicate, share information, evaluate performance and understand the health of the organization as a whole.
The most visible result of digital transformation inside of a company is the automation of processes that used to be manual, time consuming or complicated. From internal communications to customer communications and offers, to reporting, to accounting and finance, technology is increasingly removing the friction and low-value work from jobs across the organization.
What digital transformation looks like
What does it look like when a company undergoes digital transformation?
Efficiency and productivity
One of the most significant impacts digital transformation has on teams and individuals within an organization is significantly enhanced efficiency and productivity.
Hours that were previously spent collecting or processing data, manually managing customer relationships, finding internal information and more are "outsourced" to technology, making the entire system more efficient and productive.
Improved throughput is good for both the company and the end user, because employee time is freed up to focus on what matters most: providing as much value as possible to the customer.
Reporting and insights
Digital transformation, and all of the data that comes with it, creates entirely new ways of reporting within a company.
Instead of "manually" exporting information from various systems, a digitally transformed organization automates the process of getting the right information from the right sources in real time, giving them instant access to changes, insights and opportunities.
Shared, real-time reporting across the company significantly impacts alignment, focus and organization-wide learning.
New products and services
Digital transformation goes beyond optimizing existing customer experiences and organizational processes.
In many cases, the insights and opportunities uncovered by digital transformation result in new features, new products and even entirely new companies that solve problems in new and unique ways.
Ultimately, digital transformation looks like growth
When a company can harness efficiency, insights and new opportunities, the result is increased growth.
This growth is realized both in the ability to find new customers, but also to realize increased return from existing customers as organizations learn how to add more value and create better experiences.
The challenge of digital transformation
Digital transformation sounds great, but it's not easy. Leveraging data (and ensuring that data is usable) requires a significant investment in systems, tools processes and infrastructure.
In order to make the vision for digital transformation a reality, organizations must carefully coordinate all of the components required to collect valuable information from across the entire company and make it actionable, both internally and externally.
The challenge is worth it, though. Digital transformation may not be required to run your business today, but the leading organizations of the future full be fully digitally transformed.