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​1 in 2 businesses have “barely started” their digital transformation journey

  • We asked our LinkedIn network: Where do you think you are on your digital transformation journey?

  • The results were stark, with almost half (49%) of respondents believing that they have “barely started” on this pathway

  • Digital transformation is vital for businesses to thrive in today’s market, so we’re taking a look at the movement in more detail

These days, it’s impossible to ignore how important digital transformation is for businesses.

With benefits including enhanced data collection, stronger resource management, data-driven customer insights, and increased agility, which can all lead to profitable growth and success, companies who haven’t taken their first transformation steps are risking falling behind the times.

This is why we recently launched a Business Change & Transformation (BC&T) division. Our expert recruitment support makes identifying, hiring and retaining the best talent in this space more achievable, which better enables organisations to navigate the ever-changing business landscape of today.

Here we talk about the rise of digital transformation, why it’s important and how to implement a strategy which will future-proof your business.

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The Poll | What is DT? | The benefits | The rise of DT | How to approach | Strategy | Skills | We can help!

Where do you think you are on your digital transformation journey?

When we launched our poll to gather insights into digital transformation, we were surprised, given its rising prevalence during the pandemic, that many businesses felt they have barely made headway in this area.

However, it was encouraging to see on the flipside that 41% of people felt they were “well under way”, while a confident 5% said they had mastered their strategy.

Somewhat concerning, though, was the 5% of respondents who answered with “our digital what?”. Surely, by now, this phrase is firmly grounded in every company’s vocabulary, given that it is such a significant component of success in today’s market.

Just in case you don’t know…

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is the process of integrating digital technology into all areas of a business, from the way the company operates internally to how sales, service and value is delivered to customers.

When a company undergoes a digital transformation, it is a complete shift for employees and customers, and so it represents cultural change as much as a shift to digital processes and systems.

What’s good about it?

This transformation affects each level of an organisation and brings together data across many business areas, enabling them to work together more effectively, increase productivity and boost profit margins.

By taking advantage of workflow automation and advanced processing, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, companies can connect the dots on the customer journey in a way that wasn’t possible before.

In addition, the likes of automation can increase productivity, allowing workers to stay focused on tasks and making their day-to-day run smoother. Furthermore, cloud computing gives employees greater oversight of what is happening internally and externally and digital workflows enable all members of a team to collaborate efficiently and to see team updates in real-time.

The proliferation of digital transformation

In recent years, the introduction of digital technologies has drastically changed the working landscape. Day-to-day life has grown more digital at a rapid speed which has, undoubtedly, revolutionised how we work.

Although this change was well underway before 2020, it was, without doubt, exacerbated by the pandemic as businesses around the world found themselves thrust into digitalised working processes and methods in order to continue operating, often far sooner than planned.

Swift change became normal, both within workforces and in consumer demand, which made many adopt new technologies such as blockchain and IoT. With these new consumer behaviours in place, digital transformation has become key for all businesses to successfully keep up with supply and demand.

How to approach digital transformation

Think of digitalisation as a longer term business model innovation that seamlessly integrates with current ways of working. Rather than reactive, knee jerk technology-related change, this robust and ready approach is far better at maintaining growth, as well as foreseeing future changes that may affect your business.

Therefore, digital transformation must be approached with an open mind, and led by a management team who are open to taking risks when necessary.

In order to be successful, it must be understood that digitalisation is a complete cultural change as well as an operational one, and clear communication with employees at all levels is essential so no one is left behind on the transformation journey.

Plan your strategy and future proof your business

Define your strategic direction

To deliver successful change in a business, it is key to fully plan the strategy first. It’s not just understanding what your end goal is, but recognising how the transformation will affect every other area of the business along the journey.

Business strategy tools can be useful to enable you to look at your strategic initiatives from various perspectives in a coherent way, ensuring that none of the key elements are overlooked, whilst at the same time demonstrating the relationship between them.

This focus on interconnection is key in digital transformation projects especially, because their success depends not only on investing in the right technologies, but also on the complementary changes in organisations that ensure that the technologies are used efficiently and effectively.

In mapping out your business model, you can identify areas of concern and possible sticking points on your digitisation path, meaning you can address them before they cause an issue.

Align your organisation

Once you have a strategy in place, you need to ensure that everyone in the business understands the new direction and acts accordingly. This requires communicating clear and useful information on the strategy and how it impacts people across the organisation.

Providing readily accessible information will help to foster understanding and alignment. It will also assist in identifying the key elements you want to focus on, then you can begin to gradually develop the necessary changes. Breaking down the overall transformation effort into manageable chunks will ensure a coherent vision and tangible results.

Allow for flexibility

Successful business change is not a matter of rigidly implementing overarching plans without giving them the chance to organically adapt and grow. It requires top down strategic guidance, but also collaborative improvement from the bottom up.

Simply put, you need to bring people together from different areas of the organisation to provide the necessary knowledge and skills and then use high quality information to support decision making, design and implementation.

Doing this will help teams to coordinate their efforts, learn from each other, avoid unnecessary duplication of work, all while allowing for an agile transformation.

Stick to targets

Digital transformations often rely on breaking down your overall efforts into smaller steps. Keeping an eye on your business model is essential to keep things on track and will help you to undertake a steady and stable transformation.

The digitalisation of one aspect of the business might even lead you to realise that other parts of the business need to follow suit. This continued engagement with digital transformation is crucial to staying ahead of the competition.

Derive necessary changes through training

Training and upskilling your people can prove to be at least as essential to a successful digitalisation as picking the right tools and technology for the task. Making sure that everyone in the business is up to speed and on the same page will result in a roadmap that coherently links your transformation goals.

Yes, technology will remain key in these initiatives but it’s your people who will be able to act upon this and affect positive changes. What matters most is that everyone has a clear understanding and vision of what you can do differently. Purposeful changes to how people approach core activities will ensure that technology investments are used effectively, leading to lasting transformations.

Hire the right skills

The implications of any digital transformation project are far reaching for both your current and future workforce. A top priority should be ensuring that your teams have the right mix of skills across the project lifecycle, especially if you intend to maintain resources beyond the initial stages of digital transformation.

For starters, digital transformation leaders need to be attuned to, aware of and responsive to the changes it brings to the workforce by recruiting the right people with the right skill set at the right time.

Integrating the correct mix of skills will also be achieved by upskilling your existing staff members, hiring new permanent employees or bringing in interim professionals to temporarily plug a skills gap as you develop new technologies.

However, these things can’t happen in isolation. They must go hand in hand to help your business continually adapt to the shifting requirements of digital transformation, both now and in the years ahead.

Digital Transformation Skills:

  • Data, analytics and software

  • Cyber security

  • Project management

  • Strategy development and delivery

  • People leadership

  • Creativity and adaptability

  • Digital literacy

  • Broad commercial awareness

Struggling to find the right talent?

Whatever market your company is in, you need to ensure that your digital processes, frameworks, strategies and systems are not only aligned with the overall company vision, values and mission, but contribute to profitable success as well.

Our Business Change & Transformation recruitment experts cover both permanent and interim roles throughout the UK, specialising in mid-senior and C-suite level appointments. Get in touch with them to discuss how they can support you:

Barry McDonald – Business Manager, Customer Contact, Business Change & Transformation (Scotland)

bmcdonald@merje.com

Neil Johns – Director, Customer Contact, Business Change & Transformation

njohns@merje.com

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