Change is inevitable – I think that most people would agree on that – and evolution is a very clear indication of how change can transform life. With a change in life comes a change in lifestyle, which again, is inevitable due to the continual development of humanity.

We are currently living through a digital transformation era. It began a few years ago and shows no signs of abating, with technology progressing daily and people finding that they need to keep up to remain relevant. However, without wanting to risk sounding dystopian about the situation, let’s look into what digital transformation actually means.

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation is the use of current technologies to assist companies and organisations with their practises and policies to ensure that they are providing an efficient solution both within and outside of the workplace.

That’s the definition out of the way, so what does it really mean?
An organisation thrives on efficiency; when a process is managed in a speedy manner and the outcome is positive, the organisation gains – be it financially, reputationally, or on some other level. Processes have become automated across a range of sectors from automotive to financial – consider your internet banking ability.

This has helped the end user because their requests are handled in a faster manner and has also benefited the employee and employer because time can be dedicated to different tasks which require human input.

Organisations have realised that digital transformation is necessary for the growth and survival of their operation and are researching ways of how to make the most of technology, especially emerging tech, to remain at the forefront of their industry. The inability to do this could result in the business either going defunct or losing their staying power within the market, such as what happened to Nokia when they failed to establish themselves successfully into the smartphone market.

Clearly, going digital doesn’t mean that the organisation is going to thrive instantly and see its revenues double overnight – there’s a process to digitising processes, and that’s often the crux of the issue. In an ideal scenario, before digitising any process, a change strategist should look at the original process stream to see whether it can be simplified. Once that is done, then the digitisation process should occur.

This is because digital transformation has a two-fold goal – the change from non-digital to digital means (improving how you operate), but also the change to the way business is conducted (improving how you create value). A business transformation is a direct consequence of a digital transformation which is imperative for the process to be successful.

The Solutions: Improve How You Operate and Improve how you create value

Improving business operations should be the mantra of any organisation that wants to thrive in its industry. Even if the business is a ‘traditional’ one, changes are always occurring and acknowledging and implementing changes is important for the growth of the business to ensure that it remains significant. Business improvements tend to be fairly standard across the board – increasing efficiency, providing better service, reducing the margin of error, minimising risk, cutting costs. Many of these goals can be achieved by opting for digital processes to eliminate human error and provide speeds attainable by machinery.

All the above are important and should be implemented where feasible; however, they will not necessarily create value for the business and that is where the second part which is necessary for a complete digital transformation comes into play.

Creating value for a business can take many forms and it is necessary for the business to understand its market position and undertake the necessary research to see what its customers expect from them. For example, collaboration with a complementary digital business could be the key to remain competitive. By streamlining the operational workflow and potentially disrupting the market through innovative decisions, businesses are more likely to remain viable in a fast-moving economy.

Digital transformation isn’t a one-stop-shop affair, and neither is it a one-time-only event. Technology won’t stop evolving so the digital transformation will need to follow suit. Blockchain, the Internet of Things and AI are all currently being introduced and used within the larger enterprises; however, they will too become day-to-day processes, just as email did back in the day.

Note: Although the term ‘business’ is used throughout the article, digital transformation is relevant for any organisation that wants to evolve, be it a charitable institution or a large enterprise.

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