By now, it should be easy to see that there are myriad ways that the pandemic has changed the way we work. Workers have been forced to adapt to different ways of working remotely, dealing with supply chain disruptions, and responding to changes in consumer behaviour. All these things impact how businesses are run, thus bringing business process transformation and digital transformation strategies to the top of the agenda.
For leadership, process transformation is a three-pronged approach that incorporates technology transformation, business process transformation, and organisational transformation. This article will look at all three of these forms of transformation through a strategic lens and show how they each contribute to a broader transformation process. We will also reveal how focusing on implementing them simultaneously helps achieve a successful digital transformation journey.
Table of Contents
What are the vital effective strategies for digital transformation?
There cannot be any fundamental business transformation without the wholesale adoption of new technologies and the harnessing of their power; this is something that the casualties and successes of the pandemic brought into harsh perspective. Digital transformation strategies involve adopting and utilising innovative solutions to improve operations, customer experiences and business development.
Organisations should begin by assessing their existing technological infrastructure and capability. It should also work to identify how business needs coincide with technological gaps. This means ensuring investment in technology that furthers business needs instead of just buying technology for its own sake or appearing on-trend. It also involves evaluating current systems, applications and infrastructure. These days, business process transformation can be run by technically-minded consultants who are hired on a freelance basis to complete the project within a specific timeframe.
This initial assessment should serve as the foundation for implementing digital transformation strategies and being referred to continually as these plans are rolled out. At this point, an organisation should select whether to invest in greenfield or brownfield technology, utterly new tech built from scratch without the burden of legacy code, or use existing tech and infrastructure that is tried and tested and includes cost-savings.
Digital transformation strategies should look at the whole gamut of tech available and assess how it facilitates business needs. For example, cloud computing, with its potential to enhance scalability, flexibility and accessibility, could be an essential part of a business process transformation. When it comes to decision-making, businesses should consider leveraging the power of statistical data analysis to obtain valuable insights. Furthermore, analysing customer behaviour, market trends and operational metrics can help make informed decisions and identify areas for improvement.
Harness AI to free up time for meaningful work
Thankfully, big data analytics tools are out there to help organisations carry out more profound analyses. Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL) all help to derive relevant information from massive data sets to aid in decision-making, giving businesses a helping hand when knowing what next steps to take and whether the time is right to take risks.
Another important aspect of embracing technology when planning a business process transformation is understanding and using the potential of automation. Adopting automation and robotics to support a business’s transformation gives employees and managers free time to focus on getting the actual work done, reducing time spent on repetitive and mindless tasks. Furthermore, increasing the amount of automation reduces the likelihood of human error, which has been shown to take up 30% of a full-time employee’s time and waste around 25,000 hours per year in a medium-sized business.
Nowadays, we have such tremendous computing power at our disposal. Instead of being afraid that AI and automation will take people’s jobs, we need to focus on how these technologies will free us up to do meaningful work with an impact. There will always be tasks that only humans are capable of, as they are creative in ways that computers can’t be. For the things that feel like a waste of time, that’s where computers come in.
While the benefits of increasing your business’s digital presence are countless, there is also the risk of making your business vulnerable to cyber attacks. As you scale up, prioritise cyber security as a built-in concern. Every foray into the digital realm should be met with a robust defence system as attacks become increasingly sophisticated. This means that the team you task with aiding the digital transformation strategies must be up to date on cybersecurity risks and the tech used to combat them. When making hires through talent platforms, organisations can search for freelance consultants with specific cybersecurity skills to pull off the job.
How digital transformation strategies shape business process transformation
While the strategies that propel business and incorporate digital are distinct, they must also be carried out hand in hand. As we have explained, technology must fill gaps in business needs rather than investment being led by supposed tech needs. However, this also means that for a successful digital transformation, traditional business processes must be redefined to accommodate digital implementation.
This means that every aspect of the business model should be analysed and, if necessary, re-designed. Re-engineering business processes ensures that an organisation’s digital transformation objective can be executed through engagement. That is, every team in the organisation should be engaged in examining how existing processes function and, therefore identifying limitations and inefficiencies.
Making a shift in business process transformation may also mean promoting a more customer-centric approach by placing the consumer at the heart of all business processes. Using technology, businesses can utilise an empathic UX approach that takes into account how a user’s journey moves across a company website, app, or customer support service. This customer-centric approach actively seeks to understand customers’ expectations and also their pain points, applying intuitive and user-friendly interfaces that make the customer journey smoother.
Applying these strategies makes analysis easier, as the customer journey has clearer outcomes. If these outcomes are not being achieved, then this valuable customer data can be used to guide how processes should be re-designed. Customer data analysis can also create guidance for the development of products; it shows you what consumers want and need. Moreover, it can guide marketing strategies and services, providing more accuracy and definition.
What part does an organisational transformation have to play?
There are several project management methodologies out there that an organisation can adopt to get work done. However, embarking on digital transformation strategies should demand methodologies with a technological root. Scrum is widely recommended in this case as it involves breaking projects down into manageable sprints, encouraging continuous improvement and iteration. It also implies breaking up silos to facilitate rapid adaptation, both meeting customer demand and aligning with business goals.
While Scrum is a methodology that utilises the Agile philosophy, they take different approaches with Agile, asking for deliverables to be made at the end of the project. Scrum demands that deliverables be made in smaller chunks, with each constituent part contributing to the whole gradually.
However, installing a new working methodology requires cross-organisation agreement and understanding. For them to work, digital transformation strategies must mandate organisational culture change. This would include changing the employees’ mindset and working methods, beginning with a top-down approach.
This top-down approach to developing digital leadership is the most crucial and foundational step of organisational transformation. Digital transformation strategies require executive management with the knowledge and abilities to establish digital leadership across the organisation. This approach to business process transformation encourages leaders to adopt cognitive technologies (machine learning, natural language processing, algorithms and robotic automation), motivating innovation.
The next thing digital transformation strategies must incorporate is investing in training and upskilling programmes to equip employees with the digital skills required for their roles. Doing so implies the development of a learning culture and providing tools for continuous learning and growth. Some other benefits include:
- Increased productivity: Employees with digital skills, particularly in the use and manipulation of cognitive technologies, including AI, can work much more efficiently, saving time and resources and devoting themselves to tasks that require human creativity.
- Adaptability and future-proofing: As job roles adapt with the changing pace of technology, training workers to keep up to date means your workforce, whether freelance or contracted, can continue working long into the future.
- Innovation and creativity: Increasing the digital literacy of a workforce means they are better equipped to find more innovative and novel ways to improve workflows and products. It can also help them develop new solutions and offer ways to automate processes.
- Increased flexibility of working hours and location: Increasing digital transformation means enabling workers to work remotely; according to a Gallup poll, 41% of workers feel more productive working from home. Giving workers the tools to work independently allows management to focus on the bigger picture.
After instilling a sense of constant training and improvement, it’s also essential to ensure that workers are contributing to an agile and innovative culture. Maintaining a constant willingness to change, update, grow and improve. In doing so, they should be prepared to make mistakes; accepting trial and error, risk-taking and failure-based learning as a method of achieving better outcomes.
Finally, business process transformation on an organisational level should promote open collaboration and communication. Encourage cross-functional collaboration and open communication channels where information and agency are not siloed. A culture of knowledge sharing should enable employees to contribute innovative ideas and collaborate to achieve digital transformation objectives.
What is a framework for digital strategy?
A framework for digital strategy is essentially how all these tactics are implemented and how they are arranged and organised. The framework you establish at the beginning of a business process transformation is what you will refer to at each stage to ensure that you are on track.
- Begin by setting clear targets for the digital transformation strategies to be put in place.
- Set yourself up to win early. Success from the beginning can instil a positive atmosphere and response to the transformation.
- Create goals that should be achieved at certain stages, ensuring that these critical stages are clear to the whole team so that everybody is working towards the same goal.
- Establish a realistic endpoint in both time and expected outcomes.
As you can see, the framework is what keeps the whole team aligned towards the same goals. If you set it up early you can ensure that everybody is on the same page.
Proper planning from the outset will ensure the whole organisation is on board
As we have seen, the key to a business process transformation is planning. From the very first steps of planning to identifying areas of opportunity and business gaps, it is important to have clear aims and outcome expectations. Without setting up the proper framework and transformation plan, there is a chance that not everybody working on the project will be aligned with its goals.
To give digital transformation strategies a fighting chance, we recommend considering hiring a freelance digital transformation consultant to keep the entire project focused on achieving the same goals.
Jassim is a researcher in Artificial Intelligence and has a passion for digital transformation. He is an experienced engineer in a vast technical and customer-centric field with strategic academic background and currently serves as the Industry Advisory Committee chairman at Higher Colleges of Technology.