Digital Transformation - Part 1
Change is the new constant for SMEs
Inevitably, in any discussion about technology trends, the term Digital Transformation pops up, as companies discuss efforts to take advantage of new paradigms within business, within technology and within culture. Digital Transformation refers to the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how the business operates and delivers value to customers. Such changes are typically undertaken in pursuit of new business models and new revenue streams, driven by changes in customer expectations around products, services, or business environments.
Now more than ever, businesses are being forced to adopt these new models because the changes are happening around them, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic. Leaders are reprioritizing their business roadmaps, with many adopting new technology and apps that have transformed traditional practices into new models like remote working and online consumer and business purchasing, and supply chains.
Brick and mortar operations have been hit particularly hard during the pandemic. As regulations forced many locations to close and limit their activities, businesses quickly turned to online platforms to survive and grow, which in turn meant meeting customer needs in a new way.
The need for digital transformation has never before been so urgent, and many businesses that fail to transform will be left behind or will disappear from their respective markets.
Simple examples of Digital Transformation in SMEs include:
Restaurants offering online ordering to allow customers to place orders easily, and receive via curbside pick-up or new home delivery services.
Supermarkets offering online purchasing and delivery of grocery items.
Gyms live-streaming exercise classes and home workout plans.
Sporting disciplines hosting virtual fitness challenges to encourage customers and fans to stay active, while keeping them engaged.
Hotel chains transitioning their presences from the telephone book, to a blend of their own websites, “aggregate booking” websites and mobile phones.
Digital Transformation can be thought of as an unstoppable forward march of technology, adapting to disruptions that can come from anywhere, any time. But while most digital technologies can provide possibilities for efficiency gains and customer intimacy, if current organizational practices are flawed, Digital Transformation will simply magnify those constraints.
It is important to recognize that every company will begin from a different starting point. There is no digital transformation framework, playbook, or roadmap that’s universally applicable. Your organisation may need to rethink its existing technology, business processes and structure. Change is the new constant. Organisations should already be in the habit of constantly seeking efficiencies, service improvements and new market opportunities.
Embracing Digital Transformation must be seen as a long-term strategy, not just a reaction to a specific event. The goal should be a constant state of change-readiness before the market demands it, because the market will demand it. Whether your business sells furniture or newspapers, the threat of disruption looms.
Digital Transformation is more than just improving network security or retiring your old printer. Your entire organisation has to be on board for the change journey. Every employee needs to understand why change is needed, who will lead, how it will be led and implemented, how their work will change, and how they and the organization will benefit at the end of the change journey. Successful adoption and utilization of transformational technology requires a shared vision, proactively communicated and supported by an internal coalition of change leaders.
Digital Transformation is no longer a nice-to-have. In the age of Covid-19, it has become an imperative for all SMEs to survive and thrive. Understanding what that means and how to implement it for your business is the key to competing in the current technology and customer-driven landscape.
Business leaders who embrace transformation have to be willing to both innovate and experiment to outpace rivals who are also adapting. A business that truly embraces Digital Transformation is one that will be agile and flexible in the face of any possible future.