The current climate has caused many businesses hardships due to concerns over everything from supply chain disruptions, diminished customer demand, and social distancing mandates, which have affected practically every aspect of business operations. However, one sliver of light that has come from this pandemic is the fact that it has highlighted the need for many businesses to evolve.

Now more than ever, companies must be focused, nimble, data-driven, and organized. This pertains not just to operations but also to the digital tools businesses leverage to support processes. Have you done your digital transformation? Are your digital tools well integrated to facilitate efficient communications, effective processes and access to valuable information and insights?

Digital Transformation in a Nutshell

So, what exactly is digital transformation? Digital transformation refers to the incorporation of digital technology across all areas of a business to the point where it affects operations on every level. While digital transformation is a complex process by nature, the benefits often significantly outweigh the difficulties, and the impact can be far and wide—from boosting customer satisfaction to improving business speed and agility, as well as increasing revenue and growth.

The core elements of digital transformation include:

  • Cloud migration and integration
  • Modernizing and re-engineering processes
  • Leveraging technology to improve the customer experience
  • Creating a more dynamic, flexible working environment

Such transformation takes courage, organisation, an effective strategy, focus, and strong leadership.

Realizing the value of digital transformation

If the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us one thing, it’s the value of digital technology. Businesses should use this time to accelerate their digital transformation and work to achieve the necessary operational resilience vital to surviving this new reality.

A recent survey conducted by IDC canvassed the opinions of 32 CXOs in ten different countries regarding the value of IT and digital transformation.  IDC was interested in learning more about the impact of digitization on the fight against the outbreak, the virus’ impact on corporate business, and new digital transformation measures implemented after the pandemic. The top three negative impacts of COVID-19 on enterprises were:

  • Significant declines in sales performance
  • Inability to resume production
  • Lack of face-to-face interactions with customers

Conversely, the top three positive impacts were cited as follows:

  • Improved corporate ability of collaborative work
  • Increased ability for online marketing and business development
  • Widespread recognition of the value of digital transformation and information technology among all employees

According to Sandy Shen, Senior Director Analyst with Gartner, this is a “wake up call” of sorts for many companies who are finding that they have placed far too great a focus on the “daily operational needs  at the expense of investing in digital business and long-term resilience.” As a result, companies that are able to effectively pivot their technological capacity and investments to digital platforms will be best equipped to manage not just the impact of the pandemic, but also increase their resilience in the face of future obstacles. Too often, we don’t fully realize the importance of some things until they’re forced upon us.

Where to focus when driving digital transformation

There are two main areas of focus that need attention to effectively drive digital transformation.

  1. People

It all boils down to company culture and the importance of creating one rooted in data-driven processes. Be clear from the start on goals and objectives. Choose carefully when selecting leaders for the transition. Oftentimes, the organisational leaders who oversee such initiatives are CEOs or dedicated digital transformation officers. Integration is key as well, so be sure to integrate cross-functional teams, involving employees at all stages of the journey. You will also need to provide regular updates on progress to make the transition as smooth as possible.

The goal is a more connected business. We’re talking connected employees, connected customers and partners, and connected data, applications, and systems. This transformation should help foster data-driven teams and break down data and departmental silos to lead to a more adaptive, integrative, efficient, and collaborative work environment.

  1. Technology

The prospect of having to build the proper infrastructure to support digital transformation can be daunting, especially given the myriad of new and emerging technologies available. Bear in mind that it isn’t necessary to adopt every bit of shiny new piece of technology you stumble across. The key is understanding your goals, performing due diligence when researching technologies, effectively vetting the ones that are appropriate for supporting your goals, and implementing them effectively.

Another focus should be data privacy and security. With data playing such a central role, businesses and customers alike must be assured that there are absolutely no compromises with regards to the changes and increases in data collection, storage, analysis, and usage. Ensuring data governance and integrity are vigilantly safeguarded is crucial.

The Importance of an Effective CRM

Companies that are aiming to expand their reach, improve their relevance, and deepen their resonance will find that digitization is no longer an option but a necessity—and that CRM is an ideal cornerstone.

A CRM software functions as a vascular system by providing a digital platform to which you can connect every part of your organisation. The great thing about an effective CRM is that it consolidates many essential functions by providing a comprehensive, shared platform. Thus, it naturally serves as an invaluable tool for growth, driving better employee collaboration and stronger customer relationships.

CRM plays a vital role in the successful realization of digital transformation. It essentially serves as an “umbrella system” of sorts which coalesces various building blocks for effective digital transformation. CRM both contains and integrates data, analytics, and tools, thus providing you with profound insights into your customer base and the ability to drive stronger communications, customer engagement and strategic decision making. 

Final Thoughts

There is at least one positive note to take from the COVID-19 pandemic—it has forced many companies to make necessary changes to their operations and use of technology. Fortunately, this departure from normal business can and should be the first significant step a company takes on its path to digital transformation. 

But the question remains: when business resumes as usual, will these companies continue to embrace this opportunity to adapt, grow, and become more resilient? Or will they revert to their previous ways of conducting business? We hope that many will choose to continue on the digital path towards transformation and act with alacrity—the benefits are far too significant to be sidelined.