What Is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is on the radar of many businesses across many industries. The topic has recently increased in popularity and visibility which has led to the term ‘digital transformation’ being used to cover many different digital elements. In this article we help to answer the question of ‘what is digital transformation?’ as well as discussing the implications and opportunities for businesses big and small.

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation is a term used to describe the adoption of digital technologies by a business. Although digital transformation may have wider implications on the business, essentially it’s concerned with updating analogue processes into digital processes. Other terms like digitization and digitalization also loosely translate to digital transformation although they can be applied more specifically to different areas.

Another useful definition of digital transformation can be found on The Enterprisers Project website. The EP describe it as “the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers.” This definition raises an important point. Smart businesses are not just using digital transformation as an opportunity to update or ‘digitize’ old processes, they are using it to generate greater value for their customers.

What are the key drivers of digital transformation?

There can be many key drivers for digital transformation within a business. The overriding driver for many is the fear of falling behind their digitally smart and agile competitors. Aside from this, other common drivers are cost savings, greater efficiency and delivering better customer experiences.

Cost Savings

Adding or updating digital infrastructure within any business can sometimes be costly, but it doesn’t have to be. Depending on the scope and the size of the project, solutions can be implemented which generate an impressive ROI over a very short period. Some of the highest ROI can be generated by digitalizing your sales and marketing processes.

Take a global company that uses print catalogues for example. They have sales reps all over the world who they must supply with printed catalogues. The costs associated with these catalogues are design, printing and distribution. By introducing a digital solution, an e-catalogue, large cost savings can be achieved due to a reduction in the level of design work, no print costs and no distribution costs. This is just one of many situations where digital can be used to lower costs and deliver ROI.

Greater Efficiency and Mobility

Digitizing processes, i.e. going from paper to digital, provides extensive opportunities for businesses to generate greater efficiency. It’s easy to see how moving from reps writing and processing paper orders to reps submitting orders electronically to an ERP system can deliver efficiency on a large scale. Digital solutions like e-catalogue and sales apps provide workers with greater mobility, allowing them to access to up-to-date an accurate information wherever they are.

But digital transformation doesn’t stop there. Workers are connected more than ever before thanks to the cloud. The cloud provides workers with quicker and easier access to information that was once held across many different departments. Not only this, greater collaboration between workers means the projects and documents they work on are always accurate and up-to-date, where ever it’s accessed.

Better Customer Experiences

Whether it’s in a B2B or a B2C marketplace, customers are demanding a more personalised experience from their suppliers. Digitalizing your sales and marketing processes provides an opportunity to meet the unique needs of every customer at a fraction of the cost compared to non-digital channels.

If you’re a business with many products which are sold into different countries or to different retailer types, being able to segment your product offering will deliver much better value to your customer. Rather than supplying them with an entire range, an assortment tailored to their market or shop is likely to get a much better response and drive higher sales. Trying to achieve this through non-digital channels is near impossible whereas it can easily achieved with the right digital solution.

What should I do about digital transformation?

So now we’ve answered, ‘what is digital transformation?’ is there anything you should be doing about it? The short answer is yes, absolutely. Considering one of the main drivers is the fear of falling behind competitors there are certainly steps you can take to stay relevant in a digital world.

Putting your customers first and asking yourself how their experience can be improved with digital is a big step towards competing successfully. The needs of buyers are constantly changing and implementing digital solutions is the only way to keep up with the rapid pace of change.

And it’s not just customer facing functions that need to take note of digital transformation. We work closely with businesses in the outdoor and sports industry and are seeing digital transformation taking place right across the go-to-market process. Adidas are using 3D printing to create bespoke products whereas companies like Browzwear are revolutionising the fashion industry with 3D product design.

In conclusion, it’s important to understand where digital can be used to add value to both your business and your customers. Whether it’s cost savings or delivering better customer experiences, the journey of digitally transforming your business is not a short process. However, putting in place a structured plan and taking holistic approach will ensure you take the right first steps to digitally transforming your business.


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