Navigate new work patterns, including an increasingly remote workforce and expectations for better digital employee and customer experiences
This is an exclusive interview conducted by the Editor Team of CIO News with Ahmad Sarhan, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at L’azurde
Digitalization hastens the pace of business adaptation and evolution. Introducing new products or services, engaging new customers, and increasing operational efficiency are not easy tasks. Digital transformation is a set of acts and a mindset that, when adopted, helps businesses keep pace with the fast rate of change. Ignore this mindset, and you will be left behind. In this area, embracing a digital mindset will distinguish businesses and give them a competitive advantage; this includes enterprise, SME, and emerging organizations. This article will spotlight the modern digital transformation trends, strategies, and common steps to be followed when adopting and implementing digital transformations.
Cornerstone is to understand what digital transformation is:
There are many definitions for “digital transformation.” For example, Gartner defines it as “the process of exploiting digital technologies and supporting capabilities to create a robust new digital business model.” Others say the cross-organizational, strategic business change centres around improving the customer experience, often enabled by digital technologies.
In simple words, “digital transformation” (some use “DX as a short-name) is the adoption of digital technology by an organisation to digitise non-digital products, services, or operations. Its implementation aims to increase value through innovation, invention, customer experience, or efficiency.
How do organisations benefit from digital transformation?
Before going deep into the digital transformation implementation process, let’s answer the question of
What are the advantages of embarking on a digital transformation journey for an organization? This depends on the nature of the business and the organization’s digital state, but here are some common advantages:
Efficiency and scalability:
Employees find it difficult to change their habits, especially if they have been doing so for a long time. Whether it is about tasks, the use of software, or directly digitising a task that was done manually, for this reason, if the correct balance between technology and practises is considered, productivity increases will be achieved through a healthy digital culture in workspaces.
The use of collaborative digital tools can produce improvements in the coordination and communication between different areas or teams, in addition to allowing seamless work to obtain better results in less time.
Other benefits in terms of efficiency and productivity are related to the automation of processes that not only avoid human error but also greatly reduce the time of each task. In this way, teams can focus on other tasks related to the core of the business or spend more time on design and creativity.
Another aspect that digitization facilitates is carrying out performance evaluations of an organization’s employees and real-time control of the development of a task that requires follow-up.
By having an enormous amount of data from the digitalization of most of the operations, the executives of the companies will also have valuable information for decision-making and predictability, among other possibilities.
Access to richer, more reliable data can inform better decisions:
With integrated systems and access to innovative technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics, leaders are better equipped to make faster decisions with greater confidence. Leaders base critical business decisions on data collected from multiple, interconnected systems without relying on assumptions or gut instinct alone.
A better understanding of customers:
In a digitalized (it must be said that the pandemic accelerated this process) and highly competitive world, customer consumption and habits are also digital. For this reason, customers expect on-demand services to be provided that meets their expectations. For this, there are great opportunities for companies in terms of data analysis that facilitates providing highly personalised services and knowing customer feedback.
Increase revenues through innovation:
As mentioned above, the ability to streamline a company’s operations through automation or other software that reduces the time and work required to accomplish a task allows more time to be spent on not only planning but also innovation.
New technologies allow for the faster development of new products: For example, generative design exploits the power of AI to provide a range of solutions that meet a set of constraints. Unlike traditional design, where the process starts with the engineer’s insights, generative design requires only some input from the engineer (a series of instructions), and the AI creates the solution.
Better marketing strategies: The reduction of costs in different areas due to digitization allows a larger budget to be allocated to brand development and marketing campaigns. Many data analysis tools are critical to understanding customer needs and launching highly personalised and effective campaigns.
Facilitates new profitable business models: Digitization allows for the development of new strategies and business models to generate value where it has not traditionally been possible. There are many different types of digital business models, such as free (ad-supported), freemium, on-demand, eCommerce, and others.
Going a step further, these decisions are now objective, helping leaders justify their decisions to internal and external stakeholders.
Repeated disputes that impede digital transformation:
Just to be clear, digital transformation is not a simple process. Modernizing the operations of a company is an arduous path that implies not only the incorporation of new technologies but also a whole change in the work culture. Next, we will give some examples so that you can identify some of the obstacles that companies that are travelling this route face:
- Strategy and execution aren’t connected.
- Ignoring the culture
- Gap in communication
- Lack of skills and talent
- Absence of a change management plan.
- Insufficient Budget.
Below we will see some of the keys and strategies that will allow you to overcome obstacles (internal and external) to advance with digitization and take your company to the next level.
Essentials Needed for Digital Transformation
McKinsey says successful transformation factors fall into five categories:
- Leadership who serves as digital transformation champions to drive the initiative
- Building capabilities to develop tomorrow’s workforce through targeted hiring and training
- Empowering workers to work in new and different ways
- Upgrading tools, digitising them, and making them accessible
- Communicating frequently the vision, strategy, and timeline via traditional and digital methods
Looking more closely, the consulting firm found companies that implement digital tools are more than twice as likely to succeed in their digital transformation as those that don’t. Similarly, those that make information more accessible more than double the likelihood of a successful transformation.
What are the key trends in digital transformation in 2023?
- The continued rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). These technologies are being used more and more to automate tasks and make decisions, often with better results than humans.
- The expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), as more and more devices are connected and generate data that can be used to improve operations and decision-making.
- The continued growth of cloud computing as businesses move away from on-premises infrastructure and towards flexible, pay-as-you-go models
- The rise of “digital twins,” which are virtual replicas of physical systems that can be used for testing, simulation, and analysis
- The increasing use of big data and data analytics to drive better decision-making.
- The growing importance of cybersecurity as the number and sophistication of cyberattacks increase.
- The increasing use of chatbots and other forms of conversational AI to improve customer service and support.
Digital transformation strategies to address in 2023:
If you’re unsure how to move your digital evolution forward, strategies are important to understand:
In the analysis of how to improve each one, you’ll likely find the answers to which systems and processes are in the most need of continued evolution.
Being as prepared as possible for the next disruption is of critical importance. We all witnessed that firsthand when the pandemic hit. None of us predicted a pandemic in 2020. But could we have predicted its effects on individual organizations, some of which weathered COVID and its effects far better than the rest? Perhaps, having a modern content services strategy in place at the onset of COVID-19 served to insulate an organisation from significant disruption and allow it to bounce back from any disruption more effectively.
In other words, those working with legacy processes and systems spent much of the pandemic just trying to relearn how to work. The organisations that had already modernised operations were able to pivot and get back to business far more quickly than their peers, who were scrambling to reinvent baseline business processes.
Modernization tip: embrace the latest versions.
Working with the most up-to-date versions of the solutions that drive your business is the single best way to stay agile amid challenges and disruptions, no matter their severity. It will:
- Keep your organisation in the running when your competition unveils a new offering.
- Increase day-to-day operational excellence
- Reduce the time-to-value of your investments.
And organisations around the world are catching on.
Cleaning up legacy data and implementing modern content services technology were the top two most desired Information Governance projects in 2021. If that sounds intimidating, there’s good news: modernization isn’t necessarily about overhauling your tech stack and dropping long-standing relationships with vendors for the hot new brand with the great commercials. There’s a time and a place for evaluating whether the solutions you’ve invested in still suit your needs, yes, but you can start with reevaluating the solutions you’ve already invested in. If you’ve been working with the same provider for more than a few years, it’s time to confirm that you’re taking advantage of all the updates and new offerings they offer.
How modernization helps
A focus on modernization will help your business.
- Mitigate risk in the face of changing or increasing security, compliance, and information governance challenges.
- Reduce information silos that hamper collaboration, drive inefficiency, and impact customer service across your organization.
- Become more agile in responding to changing business requirements.
A focus on modernization will help your IT department:
- Analyze legacy applications that lack features and scalability and may create security risks and ongoing costs.
- Proactively and automatically govern an abundance of data and content in different formats and across various systems.
- Make a case for modern platforms that enable rapid development and deployment of solutions across the business.
You already know the experience you offer your customers can outweigh every other aspect of the products or services you provide. But post-pandemic, there’s even more to the importance of experience than that:
Customer experience goes beyond the direct interactions your customers have with your employees and representatives.
While we used to focus our customer experience efforts on touchpoints like face-to-face interactions, phone calls, and chats, customer experience now extends to—and is in many ways defined by—the ways people interact with your organisation independently. Modern apps and interfaces create intuitive and seamless experiences like those customers have grown accustomed to in their B2C activities like online banking, shopping, and billpaying. That means prioritising intuitive self-service channels, independent troubleshooting and problem-solving, and the ability to take asynchronous action is more likely to delight your customers than the interactions they have with your people, based solely on frequency of use.
The total experience, which extends to the employee experience, has a significant impact on the health of your business.
Not only do the Great Resignation, talent wars, and “quiet quitting” signify that knowledge workers and leaders are searching for work that does more than just pay well, but the trends also illustrate that your customers, too, care about how you treat your employees. They’re unlikely to support organisations with toxic working conditions and recognise that even the most customer-focused employees can only do so much to help them within systems and processes that don’t prioritise people. A negative employee experience can easily lead to a negative customer experience.
How to prioritise your total experience
The best way to prioritise the total experience is by crafting systems and processes that allow people, both customers and employees, to do the things that matter to them with as little friction as possible.
For your employees, this will likely translate into creative, collaborative work that expands their expertise and supports your business by identifying new ways to go to market, improving your offerings, and solving customer pain points.
For customers, it may mean the ability to easily interact with your organisation in ways that make sense for them depending on the complexity of their task.
Focusing on experience means embracing and maximising the value of human connection, creativity, and accomplishment. The best way to foster that connection, creativity, and accomplishment is by removing the tedious, slow, and error-prone roadblocks standing in their way via automation and digitization.
How perfecting the total experience helps
A focus on experience will help your business:
- Respond quickly to changing business needs and customer demands.
- Maintain employee retention, engagement, and productivity.
- Support customer retention and acquisition.
- Navigate new work patterns, including an increasingly remote workforce and expectations for better digital employee and customer experiences.
A focus on experience will help your IT department:
- Support an increasingly remote workforce.
- Manage increasing volumes of data and a growing application landscape
- Offload the thankless, tedious tasks that waste time and lead to burnout and churn.
- Grow their expertise in technology platforms that provide intuitive, consumer-like experiences to employees and customers.
What if everyone in your industry suddenly cracked the customer and employee experience code? Imagine that difference-maker gone.
Would your organisation stand out from its competition on the merits of its products or services alone, or maybe for its vision and how you bring it to life?
Often, the answer lies in innovation.
Innovation in established industries doesn’t always mean the introduction of a never-before-seen, completely off-the-wall feature. The most successful corporate innovations come from thinking about the things you’re doing a little bit differently or from thinking about which aspects of other industries could positively impact your offerings.
How innovation helps?
A focus on innovation allows your organisation to:
- Advance in new, exciting ways
- Ignite radical yet practical and actionable paradigm shifts.
- Advocate for experimentation
- Embrace change
- Act on customer feedback in meaningful ways.
But when you’re spending most of your time just trying to keep up with business-critical processes or you’re concerned about the volatile economy’s impact on your organization’s bottom line, innovation is often first on the chopping block.
Often, this is because innovation as a concept can be difficult to measure and difficult to connect with the efficiency and accuracy gains that digital transformation and evolution allow.
When you consider innovation alongside modernization and experience, though, you’ll begin to realize what a natural next step it is to prioritize it as an outcome of the time and financial savings that result.
Modernization gives your employees the time and energy to think creatively and innovatively. And the solutions they devise and develop in that time may be your greatest leaps forward in providing delightful customer and employee experiences.
A focus on innovation will help your business:
- Relieve the competitive pressures and disruptive threats that a “wait and see” approach invites
- Unburden its employees from the tedious processes and ancillary functions that consume their working hours.
A focus on innovation will help your IT department:
- Enable ongoing software innovation.
- Address technology gaps that prevent the organisation from achieving and maintaining a competitive advantage.
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