Digital transformation in companies: what to watch out for
Digital transformation — what a buzzword. As a CEO, leader or manager you’ve probably been confronted with this term on numerous occasions. Even more so, ever since the pandemic hit.
If you haven’t at least thought about tackling the topic of digitizing your business processes soon — here’s a friendly reminder that those companies that don’t undergo a digital transformation soon, simply won’t be around much longer (more on why below).
At TRIGO we’ve spent the last decade tackling digital transformations and guiding companies through the processes, which btw. is not easy by any means.
Yet we’ve seen just what undergoing a digital transformation within a company means and how you can go about it to ensure success in the long run.
What is digital transformation?
Buzzwords like digitization and digital transformation are often thrown around a room — without really distinguishing what they mean. We like to distinguish between the two terms:
Digitization is taking a process as it is and transferring it to a digital one, without significantly changing it.
Digital transformation on the other hand, is always accompanied by a process of change. We analyze the process, question the way things are being done and adapt it to suit the digital world. Which is pretty much the only way we work with clients, everything else just doesn’t make sense in our eyes.
Driving forces of digital transformation
Before we get into how you can successfully digitally transform your company let’s talk about the driving forces of the digital transformation age and just why it can no longer be ignored by companies.
How can we not talk about the topic everyone hates talking about, yet is so predominant in everyone's lives right now? And if there is one thing that has really shaken up companies and forced them into digital transformation — it’s the pandemic.
“A great example I’ve witnessed: my local florist barely had a website before the pandemic, the website used to simply act as a business card that had contact information on it. Within the year of the pandemic, the florist added an online shop and you can even reserve pick up slots and more. The pandemic has probably accelerated the process of digitization by an entire generation. Which is all the more reason why every company needs to act now.” — CEO of TRIGO, David Wippel
Generational mindset shift
Younger generations, who have grown up with the internet and the digital age have different standards and expectations. Our parents and grandparents used to call up a restaurant to book a table. For the younger generation it’s weird to have to call up somewhere. Their expectation is to be able to book the table online, and if they can’t do that — they might just choose a different restaurant.
Instant gratification movement
The internet has also enabled us to have information and purchases at our fingertips. We expect to be able to get what we need and make a purchase in an instant. So if you can’t offer that to your customers — again, they might just move on to the next vendor.
Forced by competition
Companies & startups like Tesla are disrupting industries from one day to the next, which in turn causes other big players to react to the situation. Old giants are being forced to digitally transform in order to stay competitive.
How can digital transformation be successfully implemented in a company?
When we talk about digital transformation, we have seen time and time again that it is not just about building or implementing a software or tool. It’s about so much more….
Analysis & observation
The first step before you do anything is to take a step back. Simply observe and take note of what’s going on. Figure out what the process looks like right now and how daily tasks are carried out. This is less about interacting with employees or stakeholders, and more about simply trying to just be in the background and observe what's going on.
Once we know where we are currently at, we can talk about what software solutions could be implemented during the digital transformation and what would make sense. You can read more about the discovery phase of a project here.
Once it has been decided what the scope, goal and outcome of the digital transformation will be - we can set a roadmap. Defining milestones, timelines and metrics to measure success.
A step often overlooked, but vital for success is change management (which needs to take place within the company.)
For many employees — their job will significantly change throughout a digital transformation. For example; one of our clients had an employee whose job it was to take customer calls all day everyday for many many years. And from one day to the next, she only had to respond to incoming emails. If you’re used to having contact with customers every single day — hearing their voices and emotions etc. and then move on to written communication only, that can actually be an incredibly unsettling experience for an employee. Which is why change management is so important throughout the process of a digital transformation.
Internal marketing & identifying power users
For a digital transformation to be successful, the new process and software needs to be accepted and lived by within the company. This change is more likely to be accepted and embraced if you partake in internal marketing, involving the end users throughout the development process.
A great way of simplifying this internal marketing process is identifying power users within the organisation. Employees who have been onboard with this digitalization from day one, who want to be involved in the development and who are convinced that this change is in everyone’s best interest in the company.
These power users are easily motivated to market the new solution internally in an authentic way and get other employees on board.
Offer training & resources
When it comes to software training - and how much is needed, things have shifted a lot in recent years. Systems like SAP used to entail a lot of training, but once you knew how to work it, you were incredibly efficient in using it.
Nowadays you need producing software that doesn’t need a manual to explain it has become the new standard. It should be a cross between a consumer app; it has an easy to use interface and user experience everyone can figure out without (too much) training and instructions but also delivers incredible efficiency.
An internal learning platform that includes video tutorials or interactive demos of the software can help create a safe environment where employees can always access the information they need to adapt to this digital environment with confidence.
Once everything is ready, there will be a day when the main digitized product or solution goes live and is implemented within the company. What you can expect then for 2-8 weeks, is a lot of friction, uncomfortable situations and bumps along the road.
This is usually not to do with the fact that the software is insufficient but that change just isn’t easy in its nature. It takes human beings approximately 3 months to develop new habits and see a situation as the ‘new normal’.
Which is why management needs to have realistic expectations of what they can expect throughout this process of change. Discomfort is normal during a digital transformation, but being prepared for that will make it easier.
Step by step implementation
Digital transformation can mean a lot of different things — whether it’s implementing a new ERP system, CRM system or a Webshop. For TRIGO clients is usually custom business software that causes quite a big shift in how employees work every single day. Which is why it’s all the more important to involve employees, onboard so-called ‘power users’ first and also offer support before the software is being used on a day to day basis. They can give us early feedback and hype the solution within the team once it goes live.
Set & analyze goals and KPIs
Throughout a digital transformation you should also define goals and metrics to keep track of how successful the digital transformation has been, keep key stakeholders accountable and course correct if needed.
You can track these metrics with the help of digital/software systems. For example; we have a metric in many of our clients' solutions named ‘success rate’ — which means how often has this one action been carried out successfully using the software solution and how long it took. This also highlights where the system can be optimized after implementation.
What makes a digital transformation successful?
Apart from a digital transformation contributing to company KPIs and sales numbers — we need to look at how a digital transformation impacts people’s lives on a personal level. If a digital transformation makes an employee or an end consumer’s life easier and reduces day-to-day stress; we consider it to be a success. Which in turn will also have a positive impact on the bottom line of a company.
“Our goal is to relieve the world of bad software” — CEO of TRIGO, David Wippel
Digital transformation examples
At TRIGO digital transformation is what we deal with, day in and day out. Whether it’s enabling a local car rental company to compete with giants like SIXT & Europcar or enabling an insurance broker to scale without hiring a huge team — you can read more about the digital transformations we’ve helped clients undergo and come out more successful here.
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