Successful digital transformation is the newest challenge facing small business owners.
It does seem like going digital is the new call for this decade, right? We’ve already seen rapid changes in the global market, across all verticals, with more and more sales being chalked up online.
At the local level, having an individual online persona for your small business is all well and good. That trend has been popular for quite a few years now. However, moving your business activities to online platforms is still a relatively new concept.
Many larger companies have already made their move toward digitization, though many more have yet to take the plunge. Smaller businesses, in particular, remain ambivalent. This is likely linked to the high rate of failure that accompanies attempts to make this change. A recent report by McKinsey states that approximately 70% of large-scale transformations do not successfully meet the expectations they set. Clearly, a better road map is vital for those reluctant to dive in.
Listed below are some high-level categories to keep an eye on as your small business prepares itself for the increasingly digital 21st-century marketplace.
Why Successful Digital Transformation Will Prove Critical
Before we jump into the “how-to” part, let’s briefly take a look at the “why” of digital transformation.
Digital transformation encompasses several comprehensive measures that migrate your business needs, functions, and operations to the appropriate digital platforms. The overarching goal is to simplify and optimize your processes. Simply stated, the motivation to digitize is to stay lean and competitive. In the new economy, “busy work” won’t cut it. There will be plenty of work for everyone as sales increase, though job responsibilities will obviously have to evolve.
Keeping this working definition of digital transformation in mind, the points below drive home its importance.
Improving Customer Experience and Convenience
Today, most of your competitors are already moving their shops online. This will give both your existing and potential customers a whole new and wider range of options to choose from.
Be warned. If you stick to your “bricks-and-mortar-only” model, you will quickly end up losing sales to your competitors. The lockdowns of 2020 made this point abundantly clear.
Providing a comfortable experience to customers who now prefer shopping online will be a major move toward gaining and keeping their confidence and loyalty.
Maintaining a Sharper Competitive Edge
In one scenario, all of your competitors have gone digital and you haven’t. In another, none of them have done so and you have yet to make the move. In the latter case, you could be the first to take this step. By doing so, you establish an authority in the market and gain a first-mover advantage.
This enhanced reputation can also help you attract customers who previously were beyond your reach. Now, they are just a few clicks away.
Embracing Decision-Making Through Data-Driven Insights
Digitization also benefits your business by providing access to a detailed list of insights about your audience’s shopping patterns, demographics, etc.
You can use this data to create more relevant marketing and promotional campaigns that truly resonate with your audience.
4 Steps to Successful Digital Transformation
The significance of investing in digital transformation is clear. Listed below are the steps you can take to ensure a successful digital transformation for your business.
1. Identify and set realistic goals.
The first step to successful digitization is setting goals for your small business. These goals must be realistic and backed by thorough, research-based data.
For example, one goal might be to move all your HR-related activities to a single digital platform that your team is comfortable with.
Your goals must also be measurable. Whatever you can’t measure is what you can’t successfully achieve.
2. Successful digital transformation will require an increased focus on strategy.
Once you figure out your goals, creating a strategy — a clear plan of action — is of utmost importance.
You can either take the entire process of digitization on your shoulders or invest in a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP). A DAP streamlines the adoption of your digital tools and ensures every employee makes the most of their new toolkit.
You may have heard of Appcues as a tool that facilitates product adoption, but today there are great alternatives to Appcues that go beyond baseline functions. These alternatives neatly assist with user onboarding, training, and supporting employees on enterprise applications. They also offer a host of other features that facilitate digital transformation.
3. Ensure the security of all data.
Today, most consumers believe that their data is unsafe on the multiple online platforms they use on a near-daily basis.
Assuring the safety of the information they choose to share with your business is a vital step toward gaining their trust. It also helps to create a positive brand image.
As you upgrade your systems from analog to fully digital, be sure to monitor and seal all the nooks and crannies that might result in a data leak.
4. Regularly analyze usage data.
Make a habit of utilizing the data and usage insights you’ve collected over time to make informed decisions as to your next steps.
Data analysis gives you a better understanding of how well your employees and customers are leveraging the digital platforms you brought in.
You can determine which digital investments are driving desirable returns and which ones may need to be replaced or dumped.
With a data-informed overview, you can determine a clear path to take that will help grow your business, both online and off.
An insightful 2018 survey by The Economist found that there was a 48% increase in efficiency following effective digitization. A 47% reduction in operational costs was another key metric cited.
These statistics demonstrate the power of successful digital transformation. In essence, all you need is a clear roadmap for successful digitization. That roadmap may evolve as you move forward, but we’re clearly at a tipping point that may force our hand.
Do your research. Partner with proven experts as needed. The one thing you don’t want to do is wait around as more and more customers move to online puchases.