Digital transformation is inevitable for business survival these days. Companies that want
to remain relevant and keep delivering value to their customers must adopt modern
technologies and move towards innovation. Yet, the process of becoming a digital enterprise
cannot be completed overnight. It requires a holistic approach and the total involvement of
all stakeholders, including the company’s employees.
This article will cover the key aspects you should consider before initiating digital transformation in an enterprise. We’ll also outline the main benefits your business can get if it chooses to use the new opportunities opened up by digitalization.
What is enterprise digital transformation?
In general, enterprise digital transformation
refers to the implementation of technologies into all or at least most areas of business. In
practice, this process is often associated with the necessity to rethink the way a company operates
and interacts with its customers. Naturally, most digitalization initiatives are resource-intensive
and time-consuming. But if everything is done right, these investments always pay off.
Depending on the organization’s goals and requirements, enterprise digital transformation can take numerous different forms. For instance, some companies may only need to update their existing IT infrastructure (software and hardware), while others have to build a completely new business model. Yet, the most common format is digital optimization. Businesses that choose this path strive to increase the efficiency of processes and operations with the help of new technologies.
Enterprise digital strategy
Ideal digital transformation for an enterprise should begin with developing a comprehensive
strategy. This document will create a foundation for future changes and help your team get
back on track if it loses the focus at some point. Sharing an enterprise digital strategy
among the company’s departments will also allow you to ensure that all parties involved have
a single vision of the organization’s key technology objectives. As a result, it’ll be
easier to introduce new software solutions in long-standing business processes when it comes
The content of an enterprise digital strategy usually depends on many factors, such as the size of a business, the industry in which it operates, the current IT eco-system, etc. But here are the crucial elements that must be included in it in most cases:
- Background & general idea. This part should describe where a business stands at the moment, for example, its market, digital capabilities, competitive advantages, and areas for improvement. It must also specify the direction in which a company will be moving and the main reasons behind the changes.
- Digital transformation KPIs. These are metrics that will help you measure the progress along the road. Besides technological aspects, KPIs can cover the expected level of employee involvement, shifts in corporate culture, productivity, and data quality.
- Impact on customers & employees. Customers and employees don’t usually participate in decision-making, but they play a vital role in business success. If an enterprise undergoes a digital transformation, both of these groups are impacted. That’s why it’s essential to ensure that the changes won’t have a negative effect on them.
- Prioritization. Nowadays, new technology trends appear very often. Some of them stay for long, but others just vanish in a few months. An enterprise digital strategy should set priorities for technology adoption. This will allow a company to keep a digital transformation journey on schedule and on budget, and, as a result, timely achieve its goals.
Besides, an enterprise digital strategy can cover other issues important for a specific company, for example, customer experience, sales, and efficiency indicators.
What is an enterprise digital transformation roadmap?
Once a strategy of digital transformation for enterprise is ready, it’s time to create a roadmap. Simply put, it’s a step-by-step plan of future changes that establishes key milestones for the entire process. The number of stages in a digital transformation roadmap can vary based on the organization’s expected results, available resources, and current demands. But the core phases are typical for most digital transformation processes. They include:
01. Defining value
If you have a well-thought strategy, this stage of an enterprise digital transformation roadmap won’t be a problem for you. Like with the strategy, you’ll have to define clear targets for a company. The main difference is that, in a roadmap, you should dive into greater detail and determine the practical side of the process as well. In particular, you need to estimate the required budget and ensure that the company’s senior executives support suggested digital initiatives.
At the execution stage, a company implements all changes required for enterprise digital transformation. For instance, it can be the development of custom software solutions or mobile apps, integration of third-party digital products, purchase of new hardware, migration to the cloud, etc. Since this phase is rather complex and covers a lot of activities, it’s often split into multiple sub-phases or projects. Each project has its own internal steps and milestones.
03. Scaling up
Enterprise digital transformation isn’t something you do once and for all. To meet customer
demands, businesses should continuously evolve, and their IT infrastructures have to scale
up as well. This enterprise digital transformation stage covers such tasks as upgrading IT
systems, adding new features, empowering solutions with disrupting technologies like AI and
blockchain, etc. It can also include non-technical aspects like training for employees and
changing corporate policies. A company that focuses on constant improvements can achieve
higher goals and outperform its competitors.
If your business belongs to large organizations with a variety of interconnected operations, it makes sense to divide a general roadmap into smaller plans. For instance, you can track progress separately for the changes in customer experience, organizational efficiency, IT infrastructure, and so on.
Advantages of enterprise digital transformation
For today’s businesses, enterprise digital transformation is no longer a nice-to-have initiative; it’s a necessity. Organizations that don’t take a digital-first approach and ignore innovation have rather low chances to stay afloat and keep their customers, not to mention attracting new ones. But potential benefits of enterprise digital transformation go far beyond the mere maintenance of existence. Here is what you can get if you decide to make your business technology-driven.
Increased efficiency and productivity
The implementation of new digital solutions into the company’s traditional processes always leads to the minimization of manual work and acceleration of task performance. By streamlining core workflows, your businesses will be able to achieve more results in a shorter period. It means faster growth, wider market reach, and more effective resource management.
Better data management
Automation of business operations allows companies to gather more data about customers, workflows, and service delivery. If it’s processed and analyzed properly, you can get a lot of valuable insights into the market and customer expectations that will help your company optimize its efforts and strategy. Besides, the quality data will assist the organization’s senior management in making informed decisions.
Enhanced customer experience
Enterprise digital transformation takes customer experience to a new level. By leveraging the benefits of new technologies, companies can deliver better services and achieve higher customer satisfaction. Such innovations as instant transactions, high-level customer service, personalization, AI-powered chatbots, VR, and AR apps will definitely make your business stand out even in a highly competitive environment.
The main goal of any business is to make money. That’s why increased revenue is one of the most important benefits of enterprise digital transformation. If your company works more efficiently and better meets customer needs, it’ll naturally get higher profits. In addition, enterprise digital transformation will help your business enter new markets and open up new revenue streams.
When processes are automated, a company has lower labor costs and spends less on the maintenance of business activity. In addition, more accurate targeting of products enabled by enterprise digital transformation allows organizations to allocate marketing budget better and get higher ROI.
Enterprise digital transformation: trends
When initiating enterprise digital transformation, the most important thing is to explore your company’s needs and study the target market. However, you should also keep track of the general digitalization trends not to miss the opportunities you might not have thought about. Below, we collected the most popular trends you may want to consider for your business:
- Use of big data. New technologies allow for massive data collection, advanced analytics and statistics.
- AI adoption. NLP, ML algorithms, and other AI technologies can completely reshape the way a business functions and communicates with its customers.
- Migration to cloud. Many businesses choose SaaS products and transfer their IT infrastructure to the cloud to reduce IT costs and improve agility.
- Ubiquitous connectivity. Modern enterprises across most industries strive to make all processes interconnected with the help of IoT, sensors, and smart solutions.
- Digitized experiences. Nowadays, traditional businesses often use state-of-the-art technologies (e.g., VR, AR, robotics) to improve offline customer service.
Besides the trends mentioned above, you should also research what’s going on in your business area. Every industry has its specifics, so it’s essential to factor them in, too.
Enterprise digital transformation: examples
Although most people understand how advantageous enterprise digital transformation is for a business, a lot of them hesitate to start the process because it seems quite a challenge. That’s why we decided to show you a few success stories that will inspire you for innovation.
Nike is a popular brand of sportswear and athletic shoes. Last year, it decided to make a greater focus on technologies and optimize its core operations, including supply chain and communication with a target audience. In December 2019, the company reported a 10 percent increase in revenue that happened due to digital transformation. A few months later, Nike was forced to close nearly 90 percent of its brick-and-mortar stores because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, the company’s digital sales literally skyrocketed, reaching 1 million U.S. dollars only in EMEA and China. So, investments in digitalization have helped businesses to survive through tough times.
Honeywell is a multinational company operating in the industrial technologies market. To improve service delivery quality and better leverage the data, it implemented a number of software solutions and upgraded the physical IT infrastructure. In particular, the company introduced smart devices, streamlined its internal processes, and used modern technologies to get the most out of the data it collects. As a result, Honeywell’s stock price grew by 83 percent in three years.
Best Buy is a multinational retailer that sells consumer electronics. In 2012, it experienced a major crisis because online e-commerce platforms like Amazon started to attract more and more customers. To survive against new competitors, Best Buy decided to completely rethink its way of selling things and kicked off enterprise digital transformation. Today, the company actively uses data to personalize recommendations for customers, has a price matching program, and utilizes technologies to improve the delivery time. Over the last three years, Best Buy’s revenue has been steadily growing, hitting 43 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.
Putting it all together
Enterprise digital transformation isn’t just a buzzword. A modern business cannot meet market demands and thrive without going digital. Ideally, the digitalization process should start from building a digital transformation strategy and roadmap. These documents will help you stay on track and achieve the original business objectives. The standard enterprise digital transformation includes three main stages: defying a value, execution, and scaling up. It’s crucial to keep track of the current trends during each of them to seize all possible opportunities offered by new technologies.