If you want to significantly evolve and grow your business, it might be time for a digital transformation. In short, this means adopting and iterating on digital processes and tools to achieve strategic business objectives.
Tapping into the right IT tools can help you better meet customer demands, cut wasteful spending, deliver services faster and stay agile in an ever-changing business landscape. These are all competitive advantages that drive long-term, scalable growth.
While your business is likely already digitized in many ways (i.e., using digital technologies in its day-to-day business operations), a digital transformation is a broader, more strategic initiative. To get you started, here are six steps to leverage technology to truly transform your business and drive long-term, strategic business growth.
1. Assess your current state
You can’t leverage technology to drive future business growth if you don’t know where you stand today. It’s important to start with an internal audit of the tech tools you’re currently using. Here are some questions to ask yourself before embarking on a digital transformation:
- What tech tools are we currently using across the organization?
- What are their strengths? What about them is working for us now, and how can we build on that?
- What are their weaknesses? Are there constant frustrations or gaps we’re running into?
- How much are these tools costing us, and what do we have the budget for?
2. Define your future goals and vision
A digital transformation is a complex process with many different aspects and moving parts. For this reason, you need to strategize from multiple angles. The first step is to clearly define your goals and vision for growing your business so you can create a strategy that aligns.
- Where are the strategic gaps in your organization, and how can the right technology fill them?
- What kind of experience do you want to provide your customers, and how can tech tools make it easier to deliver?
These kinds of questions can help you identify what types of digital transformation would be most impactful for your business and which areas to prioritize and focus on.
For example, if your employees aren’t meeting deadlines because of unorganized processes or lack of visibility, implementing project management software can help fill these gaps. Or, if you’re concerned about remote employees staying productive and effectively collaborating with their team members, a communication platform like Slack could be your solution.
3. Build your technology roadmap
Now that you know where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to put together your technology roadmap: a high-level plan that outlines your organization’s tech strategy. Having a technology roadmap keeps everyone aligned and makes it easier to track progress on your digital transformation journey.
Every company’s technology roadmap will differ in detail based on size, industry, goals, customers and other factors. But every technology roadmap should include:
- Prioritized items. With budget and time constraints to consider, you need to be realistic. Digital optimization won’t happen overnight. You can’t do everything at once, so prioritize what needs to be done urgently and what can wait.
- Timeline. Map out the timeline of each initiative in your digital transformation strategy. This will help you stay organized and be more strategic in how you release tasks and information to accommodate dependencies and other projects.
- Budget. Your timeline and budget will likely go hand in hand. For example, map out your IT initiatives for the next year based on a quarterly budget. Are there any specific budget considerations for tech? Can IT spending be split among different team needs?
- Team members. Clearly define which employees will be involved in each initiative and what executive or manager is responsible for owning specific tasks to keep everyone accountable and focused.
4. Establish your implementation strategy
Putting new technology into place can create new vulnerabilities and security risks. The implementation strategy should outline logistics and processes for your digital transformation, identify potential risks and define disaster-recovery contingency plans. This will keep your critical technology and business operations running in case of a cyberattack, power outage, rapid increase in network demands or connectivity issues.
5. Measure KPIs
Will the investment be worth it? Setting KPIs and monitoring them regularly will help you understand if your technology strategy is supporting your business goals. According to Gartner’s 2019 study, “How to Measure Digital Transformation Progress,” almost half of all organizations have no metric to measure their digital transformation. Having this clarity can give you a huge competitive advantage, but don’t overwhelm yourself with tons of data that isn’t relevant to your business and its goals. Pick just five to ten key metrics to focus on.
6. Revise and adapt your technology roadmap as needed
Setting clear technology goals doesn’t guarantee success. Digital optimization will require flexibility and some trial and error along the way, so it’s important to stay agile and pivot as needed. Rely on data to make more strategic, well-informed decisions throughout your digital transformation journey.
Growing your business takes time, teamwork and investment. But modernizing with the right technology in place can pay big dividends. Use these foundational strategies to identify and leverage the right tech tools to propel your business forward.