Technology can have a major impact on business; this is no longer a foreign concept or disputed theory. Most business owners and employees understand the benefit of technology, and several are even familiar with the trending terms “digital adaptation” and “digital transformation.” However, many are still confused, and struggling with the what, when, and how of adapting digital technology. Since the answer is rarely easy, clear, or a one-size-fits-all solution (a common reason digital transformation projects often fail to deliver the expected results), this remains an ambiguous area, even for those experienced with digital adaptation.

TECHNOLOGIES, BUDGET, AND RESOURCES, OH MY!

Sometimes it’s clear what an organization should invest—mobile and social, for example—but less obvious technologies should also be part of evaluation processes: those that impact internal business operations and processes versus customer facing investments. Then, factors that drive all decision-making processes need to be well understood and accounted for, such as budget, resources, business goals, current organization landscape and processes, and pain points. These factors, and more, play into determining what could or should be done.

When we ignore one or more of these issues, we find ourselves investing in technologies that at best, may be tricky to support long-term, and at worst, fails to support the company’s growth and goals, leaving leaders short on budget and confused about the benefits (or lack thereof) of digital transformation.

WHAT CAN BE DONE? AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHO DECIDES?

It starts with having the right players involved and understanding their contributions and limitations. In my experience, I’ve noticed that digital adaptation and transformation focus on six roles:

Common roles, and their key value-add

  1. Digital marketers focus on increasing customer focus, reach, and engagement—mostly through communication channels. These targeted initiatives nurture a natural dialogue, and when these relationships are cultivated, they become loyal customers.
  1. Technologists look at mobile and big data and the many ways we can capture, measure, and analyze it. Data gives us insights that inform the decisions we make to improve customer experiences.
  1. Content Strategists and writers curate, create, and manage massive volumes of content. In doing so strategically, they plan for every channel, and ensure that the content is fresh, valuable, and relevant.
  1. Designers are challenged with creating digital experiences that work well, look great, and adapt to every screen size. They balance the wants of an organization with the needs of the end user—all while serving as a subject matter expert, problem solver, and user and experience advocate.
  1. Digital strategists help companies understand and make sense of it all, and develop strategic plans to provide a framework for adopting digital technology into their organization.
  1. Executives look at the potential and the challenges of digital technology. They must consider the competitive landscape, growth opportunities, risks, and impact to their business when digital initiatives are not executed well.

Each of these roles and the initiatives they manage are applicable, appreciated, and contribute individually and synergistically, driving business forward in the digital era. However, when looking at adapting digital technologies, they typically focus on external customer channels and initiatives.

IS THERE A MISSING ELEMENT?

I feel there is, in both the common conversation and the digital strategic plan. This component supports the foundation of all other initiatives, and creates an organization that is not only adapting, but thriving with digital technologies fully integrated into their entire organization.

“Digital transformation happens when technology has been fully integrated into all core business areas and functions.” -Brandi Martin

Adapting digital into an organization is much more than a “go mobile” approach and establishing and managing a strong social presence. It’s the complete digitalization of an organization—internal and external. Investing in customer facing technologies is critical, but investing in technologies that improve internal business operations creates an organization that functions better in every way.

A DIGITAL BUSINESS IS AGILE, ADAPTABLE, AND SCALABLE

A business that has digitally transformed becomes more efficient and scalable (globally, if desired), creates an environment where employees communicate and collaborate better, and evolves into an overall more agile and flexible organization. A flexible and agile organization can easily adjust to the changing needs of the business, its teams, and projects. When it runs more efficiently, it’s saving both time and money.

BIG CHANGE REQUIRES THE SUPPORT OF THE ENTIRE ORGANIZATION

Educating the organization on the value of digital technologies is the most important step. You need a clear vision of your digital business, with well-defined goals and a roadmap that charts all projects to move you from now to the future. By connecting the dots between the organization’s digital goals and anticipated outcomes, you can help employees share your vision.

A common challenge is inspiring an entire organization to actively participate in change—altering the team’s perspective on a grander scale. People working on projects can sometimes lack a “big picture” view. Their perception is too limited to see the value, inhibiting their excitement to rally behind such a large change initiative. If they can see the vision and the path to get there, how everything interconnects and improves, a mental shift starts to happen. It doesn’t take too long to change a dated perspective to a digital perspective. It happens when they begin to see how every function, role, and team evolves and improves.

A HOLISTIC APPROACH SHOULD BE THE ONLY APPROACH

Moving from strategic planning, to digital adaptation, to complete transformation requires a holistic approach that looks at the business as a whole—both internal business operations and external customer experiences. The plan must integrate the right solutions, tools, and processes for that organization and their unique needs, goals, resources, and budget. An organic and customized approach requires more time through discovery and planning phases, yet is the key to helping an organization make digital part of their DNA.

Need help getting started? Contact us and see how we can help you adapt digital and transform your business.