To say that we are in the midst of a hyper-competitive business environment would be something of an understatement. Today, companies across every industry are forced to continually evolve and adapt their business processes to keep up with competitors and meet shifting customer expectations. If they don’t, they’ll have little choice but to sit back and watch as newer, more agile businesses disrupt their market.
In recent times, one of the hottest topics surrounding this issue has been digital transformation, especially in the aftermath of the worldwide pandemic, when businesses were compelled to quickly convert to digital technologies due to a significant shift in customer behavior. But what does digital transformation mean exactly? At its core, digital transformation essentially entails reorganizing technology and business processes to prioritize data, enabling and enhancing its usage across all aspects of the company.
Before the rise of digital technology, businesses were forced to rely on guesswork and gut feeling to function. This led to glaring inefficiencies and, of course, incurring unnecessary costs.
Fortunately, with today’s resources, it’s now possible to create an interlinked business environment that openly shares data across divisions and ecosystems ensuring that decision-makers always have access to objective data that supports the development of more informed strategies at all levels of the organization.
The Role of Data in Digital Transformation
Each year, the amount of data created, captured, copied, and consumed globally increases exponentially. According to Statista, by the end of 2021, we are expected to have generated over 79 zettabytes of data, which is a simply staggering statistic.
However, despite the prevalence of this data, companies are still failing to put it to good use. According to Forrester, “firms make fewer than 50% of their decisions based on quantitative information as opposed to gut feeling, experience, or opinion.” With that stated, 85 percent of those polled desire to increase their use of data insights in decision-making, but 91 percent say it’s challenging to do so.
Since every interaction in the digital world generates data, data is a critical pillar for digital transformation. You’ll have a much easier time reaping the benefits of new digital technologies if data flows freely across participants within your ecosystem. Still not convinced? Some of the most common drivers behind a data-centric approach to digital transformation include:
- Data quality and completeness – The ability to turn data into insights
- Accurate consumer targeting and market segmentation – Reaching the right audiences in the right places
- Improved organizational processes – Faster, streamlined, more intelligent action
- Enhanced customer journey – The ability to deliver greater customer experience across the right touchpoints. This entails improved engagement and personalization for each customer being targeted.
With that said, let’s take a look at some of the key considerations before embarking on your digital transformation journey.
Staff Training and cCompany Culture
First and foremost, any radical overhaul of business processes must begin and end with the employees. Unfortunately, people (and the organization itself) can often be the biggest blockers to transformation success. This is why it’s vital to ensure that employees at all levels of the business buy into the process and are held accountable for the new digitally-led initiatives.
According to a recent report, almost half (48%) of all employees report their companies do not offer or do not clarify that they provide any sort of data training, and only 26% of companies say they have achieved a data-driven culture. For true transformation to occur, it requires a change in technologies and a change in business mindset and culture.
Data Availability and Speed
Data is only as good as how well it is used within the company. This means that employees must have access to the latest and most relevant information for their tasks. However, 63 percent of employees say they cannot acquire information in the timeframe required to influence their decision-making process. As this inhibits productivity and decreases the ROI from data investments over time, it’s imperative that companies find a way to overcome this issue.
What’s required is a new approach to data storage and access: one in which the company determines what it needs, and the IT infrastructure adapts to meet those demands. For many businesses, this means abandoning legacy data storage solutions in favor of modern technologies, such as cloud data warehouses.
These cloud-based solutions provide more data mobility, allowing corporate information to be accessible anytime, from any location, and on any device. This not only improves decision-making accuracy through data-driven insights but also facilitates data exchange between departments, allowing for better cross-departmental collaboration.
Before planning your brand’s digital transformation, think about your objectives and why a transformation strategy is the best way to achieve them. The fact of the matter is that there is no real point in embarking on a digital transformation journey that only considers transformation in silos. In other words, companies must take a holistic approach to the transformation if it is to be effective.
This means introducing new technology with full consideration for how your data strategy will help to achieve your objectives and how the resulting data can be integrated effectively into the business.
With the right digital infrastructure in place, companies can thrive in their industries (even when faced with the uncertainty brought about by events such as the global pandemic). This is especially true when digital transformation is supported by a data-driven and constantly innovating company culture and the right people/skills to ensure that everyone in the company can share in the future vision.