Digital Transformation – breaking down the mystery
It’s one of the technology terms that our clients ask me about on a regular basis: Digital transformation. And I’m not surprised that they do, as a term it’s pretty vanilla and could really mean anything.
It’s kind of a catch-all for the digital age that we live in, especially from a business perspective. As we move more and more to a completely digital world, digital transformation is focused on using technology to revolutionise the way we do business, changing processes and making our businesses more efficient.
If you take anything from the above, the key is ‘process’. Much of our day-to-day work in any business is driven by process and it’s here that you can find some really substantial benefits in the way you run your business.
Optimisation vs. Transformation
Looking at process, there are two ways you can look at digital: Optimisation or transformation.
Optimisation is where you’ll usually find your quick wins. It’s where we look at a process and use technology to take an existing process and enhance or improve it. It happens a lot when you look at an internal process like accounts payable or document management. Using tech, we can automate components of a process, removing manual elements and improving the way a process works. We do a lot of projects in this space and they’re highly effective and can deliver some outstanding outcomes. Using my own business at Inland Digital as an example, we automate our contract set up process, right from the time a sales proposal is created. All the sign offs for the management team are automated and built into a digital workflow, meaning we can access this from anywhere, anytime.
Transformation is a little different. This often refers to taking apart what you’ve already built and completely overhauling it using technology. It might be a new way of delivering a product or service to a client or reinventing a completely new way to manage an internal system or process. The key is to completely transform it rather than just use technology to automate it. That’s why transformation can take a little longer, and more commitment from the business, than optimisation alone.
At Inland, we’ve delivered both for our clients. Transforming business is our company motto. In reality, it comes down to your level of commitment to a digital future: Both options will work for you.
How do you start?
Being a little cheeky, I’d suggest talking to us as a great starting point! Looking at it from a business perspective, transformation and optimisation are both great options.
To really engage in transformation, I’d suggest you look at it from a department-wide level.For example, you might take your sales team and look at how digital transformation could revolutionise the way you engage and work with your clients…and ultimately improve acquisition and retention. It’s a bigger project but gives you a bigger win.
From an optimisation perspective, I tend to recommend that you look a little narrower and start with an existing process that is manual and causing you some pain. Take accounts payable as an example, as it’s one we work with a lot. It might be a case of automating the process, ensuring that you can match invoices and purchase orders automatically rather than manually. It can vastly improve accuracy and processing times, allowing your team time to do other tasks and making it easier for your partners and suppliers to work with your business. By starting with one process, you can easily make changes and tweaks without impacting the entire department or team. Once bedded down, you can then roll it out to other areas of the business or tailor the technology to manage more processes, like accounts receivable.
Spotting an opportunity
Here’s a few things we look for in finding a digital project, both with our clients and internally within our own business.
- Manual processes and tasks: Look for areas where your team are managing many manual tasks. They’ll often be time consuming and open to human error.
- Paper based processes: If its paper based, it’s time to automate it.
- Printing: Print costs going up are a sign of lots of paper processes (or just a bad print contract: We can help you with that too!).
- Lost info: Can’t find your data? Time to have a better system for managing it.
- Filing cabinets: It’s not 1985…time to move into the 21st century!
Transforming business is more than just a tagline for us, it’s core to what we do everyday. Keen to discuss how you’re dealing with digital transformation? Contact me here and we can arrange a time to discuss what’s happening in your business.