Digital Transformation

an illustration of different icons representing modern life connecting with cloud storage

Why are we penning a digital transformation article post-2015? 

Good question. 

Perhaps an even better question: Why are you reading a digital transformation article post-2015?

If you’re wondering what exactly digital transformation is (read: was), chances are you’re going to have a fairly difficult (read: next to impossible) time catching up. However, there’s light at the end of the DX tunnel. 

Let’s get the textbook definition out of the way: Digital transformation refers to the use of digital technologies to fundamentally change an organization’s structure, approach, and day-to-day activities. Put another way, it’s using digital tools to do things differently — to improve productivity, connectivity, and team collaboration. That all sounds fairly important, even if it’s, well, obvious.

However, digital transformation isn’t always intuitive, and even in 2019, a surprising number of businesses haven’t gotten their digitalization plans off the ground. Some aren’t utilizing the latest tech. Some haven’t even ideated a strategy. Some simply sprung for the top-of-the-line iPad and checked the “digital transformation” box. With that in mind, we think there’s a good reason to write about DX in 2019 — there’s still a lot of confusion out there, and not a lot of meaningful guidance for businesses that haven’t started on their digitalization journey. We’ll try to answer some common concerns (and, hopefully, rekindle some hope that how digital transformation can work for your business).

First, if you haven’t started your digital transformation yet, we’ve got some bad news for you… 

You’re a little late to the party. In 2018, International Data Group reported that 95 percent of startups and 87 percent of traditional enterprises had digital business transformation plans.

That’s not really surprising, as “digital transformation” has been a buzzword for at least three years, and in that time, IT strategists have tossed around more discussions of “the cloud” than Dave Murray in February (St. Louis reference). According to CIO, 96 percent of organizations used the cloud in some way in 2018, and 81 percent of enterprises had a multi-cloud strategy firmly in place. 

Organizations are getting smart, striving to meet their workforce’s consumer expectations in the workplace, with intuitive apps, with instant access to shared knowledge — and it’s changing the very nature of work. From onboarding new employees to sending ads to customers, digital technologies eliminate inefficiencies and allow businesses to become much more productive. 

So, if you’re just now embarking on your digital transformation journey, the bad news is that you’ve got some catching up to do. Even if you’re in a niche industry, your competitors have probably incorporated technologies to help speed up their processes, putting you at a disadvantage.

The good news, however, is that new technologies (read: The Capacity Platform) offer a more intuitive and effective means of advancing your digital business maturity, and can finally get you ahead of the curve. 

A few things to consider:

  • Cloud platforms are (finally) intuitive. Large-scale data sharing is relatively easy in 2019. If you’re just starting a digital transformation, you won’t have to go through many of the growing pains that other businesses suffered when going paperless over the past several years as cloud technologies developed.
  • It’s easier than ever to create dedicated tools for each department. To fully digitize, you’ll need to consider every department, i.e., sales, support, IT, marketing, HR, accounting — every department of your company. Any department left behind will be left behind, and will keep the entire organization anchored to the past.

    Fortunately, there’s no better time than now to find or create tools optimized for your business. The rise of flexible communication tools and knowledge sharing platforms (we’re partial to the secure, AI-native knowledge sharing platform we built) have made it easier than ever to decide on a course for digitization — or to correct that course, if you’ve made a few missteps in your digital transformation plan.
  • Artificial intelligence is making integration simpler. In the past, going through a digital transformation meant convincing workers to change their workflows, learn new tools, and completely rethink their established processes.

    In other words, it was often — as was the case with ERP and knowledge management systems — an abject failure.

    New artificial intelligence tools (and yes, we’re again referring to our own platform here) reduce the strain of digitization. Workers can use a single intuitive system of engagement to access mission critical knowledge, fundamentally streamlining the way they work without weeks of training. Our AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP), coupled with the APIs of your company’s go-to apps will place all of your company’s knowledge at your fingertips.

Provided you’ve got an adequate strategy and the right tools for the job, you can still jump in and improve key processes, positively disrupting your business’s day-to-day, and bringing you one step closer to your long-awaited digital business transformation.

This talk of disruption brings us face-to-face with perhaps the ultimate question…

If you haven’t adopted a DX strategy, should you even bother?

The prevailing wisdom holds that if a company hasn’t started a digital transformation by now, there’s really no sense in beginning. Besides, your business is getting along fine with its current tech or lack thereof, right? Why mess with a good thing? 

Well, for starters, that’s an assuredly a fatal approach in 2019. Nearly all companies can realize massive benefits from digital transformation, and as new tools become available, there are fewer and fewer excuses to remain in the File Cabinet Age, hunched over, clutching a Rolodex. 

If you’re on the fence about DX, you don’t need to look very far for inspiration. Unfortunately, the retail landscape is littered with brick-and-mortar businesses of yesterday that never bothered to establish a digital presence. Blockbuster was “getting along just fine” in 2000 and they made the conscious decision not to mess with a good thing.

B2C businesses were obviously more susceptible to the negative aspects of digital disruption, but these days, every enterprise can fall seriously behind by clinging to outdated tech. As new tools become available, digital transformation becomes more vital to a business’s long-term health.

The biggest mistake you can make is to believe that simply digitizing your content will make it accessible.

The next digital transformation is about engagement.

an illustration of people being connected by digital communication

Take the typical employee onboarding process. In most companies, a new employee will receive constant assistance from HR or an established trainer while they meet members of their team, learn about the tools used to complete work, and develop the skills they’ll need to work effectively. And in fact, much of that content is sitting in systems of record like Sharepoint and Workday.

In theory, it’s a simple process, but a full 76 percent of HR leaders say that their organizations’ onboarding practices are underutilized. Failed hires are enormously costly (we’re not talking stolen office supplies) and represent a massive loss of time, energy, morale—the list goes on.

Fortunately, in many businesses, this is a process that can be transformed. AI tools like Capacity make onboarding more intuitive for new employees. Capacity sits on top of your app stack (i.e., systems of record) as a seamless and intuitive interface (i.e., the system of engagement).

When your team needs to call up rules and regulations, locate customer data, or even learn basic information about their coworkers, Capacity offers a simple means of accessing that information. The platform reduces the anxiety of onboarding while improving data availability. And, unlike much of the clunky enterprise software most workers are used to, it’s enjoyable (what a concept), so new hires actually put it to use.

When a digital transformation plan assesses every process, granularly, while taking the human element into consideration, it creates opportunities for disruption. That’s how you need to think about digital transformation, especially if you haven’t started yet—it’s not just putting data online so you can officially claim that you’ve “gone paperless.” It’s finding new ways to use that data by turning it into knowledge, leveraging AI and other technologies to make key processes more efficient and engaging.

This concept applies to the entire workflow of each worker in every department of your company. Even if you’ve got a top-notch sales force, they’ll certainly benefit from instant access to lead knowledge. Your customer support team will love intuitively leveraging captured knowledge from prior customer interactions. HR professionals will love effortless access to additional context for the myriad of obscure procedures they’re required to follow.

Digital transformation is more than a buzzword. It’s transformational. 

And in 2019, it’s simply not optional.