Digital transformation is a hot topic in today’s business world, having become slowly more relevant over the past few decades then exploding in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. WIth lockdowns leaving brick and mortar stores either unable to function or only able to function at reduced capacity, the uncertainty saw many organizations shifting their focus to online means of contact and/or sale.
What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is the process of rethinking your approach to technology, how to integrate it into your business’ day to day runnings and how you might benefit from it. This includes, of course, the hasty implementation of digital contact the many organizations were forced into in 2020, but is far from limited to it. It includes both customer facing adaptations and behind the scenes implementations, both of which can ultimately benefit you.
Why Should You Consider Digital Transformation?
Ultimately, what digital transformation means is down to you. It’s a highly individualized process that will change depending on your business aims, funds, and structure. A multinational corporation will need new office computers far more often than a single family owned store. In the same vein, your digital transformation strategy should take into account your employees’ ability to utilize new technology and the size of your staff. In the end it’s your needs that should drive the acquisition of new technology and you shouldn’t simply get the latest upgrade because it’s available.
Creating A Digital Strategy
There are several key steps to creating a digital transformation strategy. The first step, as mentioned above, is to assess your needs and decide where in your business might benefit from digitization. It may help to research alternatives to your current procedures or infrastructure simply to see what alternatives are available and if they’re worth the cost of implementing.
Another great resource when in the planning stages is your employees, especially the ones who work in perceived “problem areas”. While pride might leave you blaming inadequacies on employees not working hard enough, or causing problems, keep in mind that no system no matter how well thought out will last forever. Times change, consumer needs change, and you need to adapt with the times or be left behind in the dust. Something shouldn’t be done a certain way or with certain technology simply because it is the way you’re used to.
After researching your position, your next step is to analyze said position and weigh up the pros and cons of each new piece of technology you could implement in a cost vs benefit scenario. What exactly is an acceptable cost for a benefit is up to you to decide, there’s no definitive answer to that question.
Finally, after deciding what is going to be transformed, you need to plan out your vision. What do you need to change? Who will be affected? Will there be any problems with compatibility? If you acknowledge these factors you can implement your strategy with minimal disruption.
Trends in Digital Transformation
As mentioned earlier in this article, a lot of recent digital transformation trends have been driven by the effects the COVID-19 pandemic have had on the world, coping with sudden changes in customer behaviour and business restrictions. In the last few years businesses have shifted towards virtual means of contact and purchase, as well as expanding their technology within stores in order to minimize contact with customers. Below you’ll find some of the most common trends in the past few years:
- Social Media: Many businesses, especially larger ones, already had social media presences before the pandemic. In the wake of global lockdowns even smaller businesses began implementing social media for both contact and advertisement. Pre-established platforms such as TikTok switched their stances on businesses using their platforms to advertise in order to make the transition easier for those who didn’t know how to set up a website, with thousands of new websites popping up for local businesses who hadn’t seen a need to create on before that point.
- Virtual Product Displays: Given that product displays and tests became incredibly inefficient and quite dangerous, many businesses created virtual product displays in order to show off their products. While you might think this is available only to large companies who can afford to create 3D displays, there are other means of display that are available to smaller businesses – there were many cases of smaller businesses livestreaming their product displays in order to show what was available without the need of physically entering the store. While such a procedure isn’t strictly necessary with lockdowns having been lifted, it’s something that allows customers to check what’s in stock without leaving their home and as such is a great convenience to them.
- Virtual Events: With so many planned events being simply impossible during 2020 organizations were forced to adapt and create substitutes, one of which was creating virtual events. Virtual events are easy to create on a small scale, so are actually great for small businesses. While not strictly necessary any more they are a way of reaching those who could not attend for any reason, as well as allowing your reach to expand well beyond the local community.
Digital transformation is highly personal, with what it means being entirely dependent on you and your choices. While many of the trends that popped up during the past two years aren’t strictly necessary in the post-lockdown market, they’re a great convenience to consumers who aren’t willing to give them up now that they’ve experienced the benefits they bring. In the cutthroat world of small business competition, your ability to get a leg up on your competitors might well depend on your ability to adapt to consumers’ demands and the new technology you’d need to meet them. In the end though, it’s up to you to decide what is worth it and what would simply be a needless expense at this point in time.
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