Digital transformation represents a paradigm shift in how companies do business. Company structure, strategy, operations and processes are all affected by this trend. One of the most affected areas is how employees access knowledge and how they communicate with each other and with customers.
Starmind Co-Founder and CEO Marc Vontobel points out that 80% of knowledge resides in people’s heads. That means only 20% of a company’s knowledge is documented, and even that is often spread across systems. Without a single knowledge management platform, how can employees quickly find answers to their questions? How much time is wasted on searching for answers?
Leaders must invest in digital transformation to improve efficiency, productivity and competitiveness in today’s ever-evolving business landscape.
Learn more about digital transformation, its goals and how your company can get started.
What Is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is the use of digital technologies to change or create business processes, culture and customer experience at the highest levels, rather than just affecting one function or part of the business.
Why Does It Matter?
Digital transformation is an imperative for businesses that want to continue meeting employee and customer expectations in a rapidly changing world.
Digital transformation empowers people, improves data collection and access, and fosters a culture of innovation. Done right, digital transformation contributes to increased productivity, better decision-making, higher employee engagement, better customer service and improved business outcomes.
What Are the Goals of Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is a process, so goals can differ across organizations depending on their needs and current level of digital maturity. Goals can vary as much as the companies who seek to apply the technology as a solution. Here are some of the common benefits companies pursue:
Recent IDC research shows that investment in digital transformation can produce a 20% increase in employee productivity, although IDC notes that increased productivity doesn’t automatically increase engagement.
Organizations recognize that digital transformations can streamline processes and align employees across functions or geographies. As such, a report commissioned by Wrike found that 86% of enterprises plan to invest in technologies that “create a single source of truth for work in their enterprise.”
For example, a digital knowledge management platform can help employees find authoritative answers to questions quickly. They can get responses or contribute their own knowledge more quickly than they could through traditional channels.
When employees can easily find the information they need, including answers to questions, their productivity increases because they spend more time working and less time searching.
Reduce Labor Costs
Digital transformation can improve employee and process efficiency in numerous ways, including reducing errors and automating repetitive tasks. This improved efficiency can save teams many hours of work and reduce their workload.
Labor savings can also be realized when digital technologies are used to improve performance management, including employee onboarding, communication and continuing education.
Improves Customer Service
Customers have raised their expectations in recent years — they want a great user experience through multiple touch points, including mobile apps, social media, email and live chat. Digital transformation doesn’t just empower company employees; it also empowers customers to find information quickly and easily.
According to Zendesk’s 2022 CX Trends survey, 76% of consumers expect immediate attention when they contact a company, while 70% want the option of self-service portals or content so they can troubleshoot their own issues.
Investing to meet this customer demand pays off, as 81% say a positive customer service experience increases their likelihood of purchasing again.
Keeps You Ahead of Your Competition
Your competitors are likely embracing digital transformation. Market leaders get ahead of this by investing in better, faster and more up-to-date digital solutions. According to Modus Create’s 2022 State of Digital Transformation report, 62% of U.S. organizations expected to begin a digital initiative this year.
Larger, enterprise-level organizations are more likely to consider digital transformation an imperative and to be pursuing digital projects, the survey found.
How To Start With Digital Transformation
Where your company begins its digital transformation journey depends on factors including the current status of your technology, leadership buy-in, budget and your day-to-day processes. According to Boston Consulting Group 2021 research, only 35% of companies achieved their digital transformation objectives — and that was an improvement over 2020.
Explore some of the steps you’ll need to get you started.
Get Clear On What It Means for Your Organization
Digital transformation is a broad term that means different things in different contexts. This need for alignment starts with your leadership team, who must agree on what the term means for your company.
Every company is at a unique point in its digital transformation journey, but they share the same goal of fundamentally changing how the business operates and delivers value to customers. Make sure your leaders agree on what this transformation means and what it will achieve.
Define Pain Points
Take a systematic approach to auditing and analyzing processes and practices in your organization, looking for areas that can be optimized. Do you have processes that aren’t technology-powered? Are there gaps in systems or communication, or technology that is out of date?
One common pain point is knowledge silos. Companies struggle to create a knowledge sharing culture, retain and store internal knowledge and make it easily accessible to all employees. Digital transformation can address those areas, as well as poor communication between siloed departments and lackluster onboarding practices.
Develop A Roadmap
An effective digital transformation strategy requires creating a framework for everyone to follow. All parties should know their responsibilities, goals and how their work contributes to the overall aims.
A digital transformation roadmap can provide a holistic view, making it easier for you to define and manage each part of the initiative. Everyone can follow the progress and keep track of the technology, people and processes involved.
Digital initiatives come with risks that need to be mitigated, including security, compliance and data privacy. Any digital transformation must account for those risks and not prioritize progress over safety.
Employee actions, whether deliberate or intentional, are a constant risk within companies. Data-related risks extend outside your company to include vendors, suppliers and customers, while different geographies have different rules around compliance and data privacy and storage.
These risks can be mitigated by clear governance policies, proper training and sound legal counsel, among other steps.
Make Sure You Have the Right Skills
Software engineers, cloud computing specialists and digital product managers are just a few of the essential roles for companies undergoing digital transformations.
Data scientists and data architects are also in high demand as companies embrace technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. Other relevant job roles include UX designers, digital trainers, writers, conversational brand
Companies might have some of these roles in house, or they might need to pursue them through additional hiring, internal training, third-party service providers or a combination of those approaches.
Develop Digital Leadership
The best leaders lead by example, and that applies to digital transformation initiatives. Great leaders take the time to educate themselves on new technology and its capabilities. At a high level, they understand how digital technologies and platforms drive your strategy and how to deploy those assets efficiently and effectively. These leaders can communicate how digital initiatives will contribute to organizational goals.
Prepare Transformation At the Team Level
Change leadership is an important part of any transformation. Change isn’t easy, so be specific about how the digital transformation will help employees do their jobs better and contribute to overall goals.
Start by designating trusted change leaders who can be public about communicating and supporting the transformation. This generates momentum. Win over more skeptical individuals by offering them multiple channels to share their thoughts, including anonymously. Regularly asking for feedback from everyone affected by the changes helps keep the momentum going.
After the transformation is complete, digital workspaces benefit from continued engagement. Leaders must build a culture of speaking up so employees feel safe contributing ideas and reporting problems on an ongoing basis.
Digital transformation initiatives need concrete, measurable goals at the highest levels, along with supporting goals that cascade down through the organization to each unit, team and individual. Everyone should be able to understand what success looks like.
Key performance indicators should be well-documented and consistent. Some questions you might ask:
- What data will be used?
- How will data be collected? Who will do so, and at what intervals?
- How will the data be analyzed?
- How will the KPIs be calculated?
Develop a System
Digital transformation can’t be achieved all at once. Break up the plan into smaller, achievable initiatives to help the overall project’s goals feel more attainable. Translate each initiative into a project plan that precisely defines the objectives, scope, people, timeline and risks involved.
Digital transformation is not linear; you might find some projects within your company’s scope immediately, while others will take more planning or resources. A proper project management skill set is critical.
Examples Of Digital Transformation
Dräger, an international leader in medical and safety technology products, is a global enterprise with more than 14,500 employees worldwide. The company was facing an incredible challenge. Company sales teams were spending days finding answers to questions asked by customers and colleagues — time that could have been spent with their accounts.
It was clear that Dräger needed to transform how salespeople accessed knowledge and found answers to customer questions. The company brought in Starmind to improve knowledge transfer throughout the business, starting with product experts and sales teams.
Starmind helped Dräger’s salespeople access relevant information and high-quality answers more efficiently, whether on their cellphones or web browser. Now, salespeople can get questions answered within a few hours. And if the question has already been answered, they can instantly access that internal expertise.
Just five months after the pilot implementation, the number of questions that had to be answered more than once by Dräger’s experts decreased by 64%. Not only did Dräger’s salespeople have fewer questions, they were also spending nearly 50% less time searching for answers.
What Does Digital Transformation Mean To You?
Global spending on business-related digital transformation is forecast to reach $2.8 trillion in 2025, more than double 2020’s figures, according to IDC.
Digital transformation is about empowering people with knowledge, efficiency and time. Successful digital initiatives provide customers, employees and leaders with the information they need to make better decisions more quickly.
Learn more from Starmind about the future of communication technology.