What does digital transformation mean?
Digital transformation is about using digital technology to better connect and collaborate with co-workers, customers and partners. It's about reaching more people in more ways, whether through video calls, real-time chat, mobile channels or social media. It's about doing business better, faster and more cost-effectively.
That's why most organizations have launched some sort of digital transformation initiative. And yet only 30 percent will be successful, according to Gartner. Why is that? Because digital transformation requires bold action, including inventing new business models and changing the way they function.
So how can channel partners help their customers manage a successful digital transformation? How can they navigate the roadblocks that derail so many other businesses? The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu reminded us that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But when it comes to a successful digital transformation, the journey begins with five steps.
1. Digital Transformation Starts from the Top
Every digital transformation initiative is enabled by technology, of course, but it's driven by people—specifically, by the leadership team of the organization. To succeed, the implementation team must create a clear directive that outlines the objectives of the transformation. Obviously, you can't reach your goal if you don't know what it is, so leadership needs to articulate a vision for how digital transformation is going to bring innovation and what the business is going to look like when the initiative is complete. The C-suite also needs to put forth a clear game plan that explains who will be doing what and how the business will benefit from each initiative. The game plan should also be developed based on feedback from line of business owners. Those managers can provide guidance on what should be transformed and how to drive the adoption. If the C-suite doesn't clearly explain the mandate for everyone and drive it from the top, the organization will just be implementing more technology, requiring more management, without delivering any real value to the business.
2. Transform your Business Step by Step
Identify the parts of the customer's business that are most ripe for transformation. In what departments of the organization does digitization make the most sense? Are they transforming internal processes? Operations? The customer experience? If your client doesn't know where to start, advise them to take a look at other successful companies in similar industries to see what they're doing. How do people in general prefer to interact with companies in those industries, and are you aligning with their wishes? If, for instance, you're in an industry where 40 percent of customer interactions take place via online portals, that's probably where the digital transformation should start—especially if your client is still engaging with the majority of its customers via old-fashioned methods like phone calls.
3. Digital Transformation needs the Right Tools
There are a number of digital technologies to choose from, including many unified communications tools that lead to increased productivity and more powerful customer interactions. The challenge for channel partners is figuring out the right tools for the right business. This is important. UC vendors should be able to show what tools they have to enable transformation and provide customer references. Don't be shy about going directly to UC vendors to get customer references. Your UC vendor should be able to not only show you the technology but prove where they have made the impact they are selling. Then, again, look at other companies in similar industries to see what technologies they're using and the best practices they're employing. If your client is in an industry that relies heavily on contact centers, what innovative customer service tools are other companies in that market successfully deploying?
4. Transformation Needs an Army: User Buy-in
If you're putting in place cool new digital transformation tools like, say, integrated voice, video, mobility and presence, it's important that end users embrace them and use them to communicate with customers and with each other. This buy-in needs to happen at all levels of the organization and it starts with proper user training to ensure people are comfortable with the new technologies so they can deliver on their promise. If users don't embrace digital transformation — if they're not connecting and collaborating via new modes like chat and video — the investment will not bear fruit for you or your customers.
5. Quantify the Effect of Digital Transformation
Finally, you need the ability to measure the impact of the new digital transformation tools on the organization. Obviously, it's important to monitor the health of the new technology infrastructure and continue to deliver a positive customer experience long after initial implementation. To do so, you should consider deploying experience management solutions on top of the digital transformation tools. With ongoing testing, comprehensive reports and helpful adoption of analytics such as the ability to monitor and measure the modes of user communication including how many screen sharing, IM and video are active by department and location, organizations can gain a 24/7 holistic view of their environment with insight into what issues need to be addressed and how they can fix those problems. Additionally, you can measure the usage and adoption of the powerful new tools deployed to ensure the transformation is on track.
The competitive landscape is shifting quickly, altered by the powerful influence of digital forces like 24/7 customer access via connected devices and ever-higher user expectations. To survive, you must help your customers digitally transform their business to meet the demands of the today's always-on business environment. If you follow the five steps above, you stand a much better chance of arriving successfully at your digital destination.