‘Digital Transformation’ has entered the modern-day business dictionary in much the same way as blockchain, GDPR and Big Data.
But the journey from the paper-based office to paperless is littered with challenges and risks – it’s naturally disruptive. If executed correctly, however, there can be rewards in abundance.
Here is a list of ten things any business needs to consider before embarking on a digital journey:
1. Make a choice: live in a state of information chaos or information opportunity
In the next five years, a digital wave will sweep through businesses. This will present both opportunities and risks. But if you can get it right as an organisation, then the prize can be a combination of slashing costs and increasing revenue. The alternative is to risk The Blockbuster Effect, being left behind and, in some cases, ceasing to exist.
2. Take ownership of your information real estate
If you don’t have a firm grasp on what information you hold, including its status and possible associated value or risk, then in a GDPR age, you’re playing a dangerous game of Russian Roulette.
Determining what should be kept and why, where and how it is stored – and who is responsible – is vital to future-proofing the information flow across your business.
3. Sometimes you need to go back to move forward
If you want to be a digital player, then a very clear understanding of where all the cobwebs live is a must. What are the (digital) liabilities in the business? Where does the personal identifier data (PID) – account numbers and sort codes – sit across the organisation? What level of risk are we sitting on under new legislation, such as GDPR, and how does that impact what we do?
In order to accelerate growth, sometimes a comprehensive clean-up is required.
4. Treat Data as the New Oil
Last year, The Economist Magazine heralded the world’s most valuable resource as information – not oil.
There may still be some room for intuition in the board room, but data is the new, sought-after commodity upon which major decisions are being made.
The Internet Revolution has helped create new industries, solve very human problems and created more data in recent years than in the last 5,000. If data can be harnessed correctly, it’s set to usher in the next new wave of growth.
5. Back-up and preserve – vital, business critical information
Some file formats are more at risk of going out-of-date or are already corrupted. Ensuring your digital assets – be they online materials, graphical designs or maps – are secure, accessible and readable for 10, 20, 50 years to come requires a considered approach to active digital preservation.
6. Combine the brand with a modern vision
Breaking new ground doesn’t have to mean parting company with the heritage of the business. A brand is a brand because of people – that much will stay true in the digital age. If your online presence doesn’t reflect the brand vision and mantras discussed internally and what made it great initially, there’ll be a digital disconnect.
But just as the organisation wants to move forward, a brand repositioning may also be required. What worked offline doesn’t always work digitally – and vice versa.
7. Involve stakeholders across the board
It’s no good conceiving a digital transformation as an ‘us and them’ strategy. Digital is how we think, play and work and, as such, should be embraced by everyone. To achieve buy-in across the organisations, stakeholders such as Senior Management, Procurement, IT, Marketing, HR, Finance and existing customers, all need to be involved from the get-go.
8. Ask yourself the question: How would a data breach affect our reputation?
If there’s one thing people know about GDPR, it’s that fines can reach up to €20million, or 4% of annual turnover.
But the lasting reputational implications of a data breach can be more damaging still. TalkTalk were recently fined £400,000 for a breach of around 21,000 customers’ personal data, but they lost more than 100,000 customers and incurred costs of some £60m.
A well thought out contingency plan for dealing with data breaches is a must – rather than existing in a reactive bubble.
Alex Benay, CIO of the Government of Canada, recently said: “If you are spending a dollar on a digital service, you should be spending a dollar on cyber security.”
9. Think of digital transformation as a strategic investment
‘Digital Transformation’ has now become a necessity to avoid getting left in the dust and attaching a clear ROI isn’t always feasible. It can be a complex and difficult journey. As such, creating new, digital key performance indicators (KPIs) is likely to be a better approach than hard-and-fast financial returns.
It should be viewed as a strategic investment – and finding a partner to walk the journey can make it that much more comforting and, ultimately, rewarding.
10. Digital transformation is only as good as the company driving it
The technology is only as good as the people at the helm.
As such, a well-developed strategy, with some SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and targeted – aligned to the core purpose of the business, is a must.
It shouldn’t be transformation for transformation’s sake; change is a challenge, at the best of times. What constitutes success, both for the business and your customer?
Keeping the end-user close will ultimately pay dividends.