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An in-depth Guide to Creating a Digital Transformation Strategy and Roadmap

Digital transformation

You have a strong vision in terms of what you want to deliver through your business. You are relentlessly pursuing your mission which you have set out to achieve your goals. You have the right attitude in place; the right innovative ideas to change the perspective of the world.

So where are you exactly lagging behind and most importantly, why?

Something does not seem right, and you can feel it!

Somewhere you are not able to reach the optimum level that you have been targeting despite a clear vision. What could be the source of this nagging feeling?

Maybe you are taking a good business decision which might help you earn a profit, but not the best one which can convert the might’ word into an affirmative.

Maybe your market analysis and the customer profiling has been done well so that you can understand the needs of the market. But not thoroughly and in a widespread manner which could have not only shown you what the market needs at present but also what the market could need in future and voila, you are there to fill the gap.

An extensive analysis and business decision making process can be time consuming, and can cause you mental exhaustion from where you feel that you can go no further and think no further. You reach a mental blockade.

The panacea to plunging headlong into the ocean of effective business, get into the waters, thoroughly research and find the mother of pearls’ which will give you the Eureka’ moment, lies through the route of bringing about a digital transformation in your business.

So you must be thinking, “There! The writer just threw another jargon at our face out of the thousands that we have already come across.” Well, this is not just another attempt to talk about the most popular buzzword in the virtual world and talk you into thinking that it is cool to be a part of it.

The aim here is to shed more light on the entire aspect of digital transformation and make you see that it is more than just a jargon. It is the buzz word of which you should be a part of, not because it is a cool thing to do; But because it is the right thing to do for your business.

So moving on to the question of the moment!

What exactly is the meaning of Digital Transformation and what should it mean to you?

Digital transformation refers to the art of making changes in your age-old processes which has been doing the rounds in your company for years and usher in an innovative set of digital processes which challenges and improves the business practices. These digital processes give your business practices an edge over the others. Digital transformation, as the name suggests, is about bringing about a radical change in how your organization views a problem statement and finds novel solutions by venturing into the unchartered terrains. That is what you call thinking out of the box. Now that’s a jargon which we love to hear, don’t we?

Digital transformation in itself is a vast field encompassing a lot of portfolios like Mobile applications, web platforms, automation, artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data, Data Analytics and many more. These are tools through which you can gauge the market, understand the void it is facing and apply various permutation combinations of solutions which can cater to this whole wide world.

The tools which have been mentioned above like AI, Big Data, automation, eases the process of decision making and throws in myriad of outlooks and viewpoints of looking at a problem which a human brain will not be able to conceive within a short span of time.

Let us start with some statistics. After all nothing is better than facts and statistic to prove a point and drive it through. According to the statistics, out of the roughly 7.7 billion strong residents on Earth, there are approximately 7 billion handsets doing the rounds and nearly 254 million units of personal computers and laptops utilized as of 2019.

So what do these figures mean to you?

This means that if you do not flow with the wave of digital transformation, you will drown in it. With the help of digital transformation, you are able to tap the millions and billions of people who live a part of their life in the virtual world. Your business can reach out to so many people and impact their lives with the solution and services which your business can offer.

Here are some of the amazing digital transformation examples to strengthen this case:

  1. General Electric is employing 3D printing technique to construct their new Leap Engine which will be 5 times stronger. Now that is what you call smart move with Digital manufacturing.
  2. Eaton, a US-based power management company is equipped with eNotify Remote Monitoring’ which employs remote sensing and anomaly detection techniques while monitoring 24*7 Uninterrupted Power Supply systems.
  3. Deloitte ushered in a new dawn of digital transformation with Deloitte Digital Today, which is a hub of technical and creative solutions to cater to their clients.

If you want more evidence regarding how digital transformation has touched many houses and made the lives of the people easier, you can check out Urban Clap mobile application which can be your best friend at the time of your need.

Now imagine a scenario where your friend has invited you to her birthday party and you want to go all decked up to make a fashion statement. At the same time you are feeling too lazy to venture out and go to a salon and get a make-over. Urban Clap tapped this market of Home Delivery Service System’ with its one of a kind mobile application which offers a plethora of services, where salon and beauty treatment is one of them. It offers services like machine repairs, carpenters, plumbers, home cleaning and many more with just a tap of your hand-set. All you need to do is pick a service and book your appointment and the concerned person from Urban Clap will come right into your house and solve the problem.

Now isn’t that a beautiful story of digital transformation which is not only an awesome problem solver, but also transforming lives with innovative digital solutions.

Another one to reinforce this point! We love coffee, don’t we all? Even if we don’t like coffee, we simply can’t say no to a Starbucks coffee. The icing on the cake, well, Starbucks took the digital transformation to deliver premium customer service at a whole new level. It is one of the most regularly used applications and has one of the highest takers for its loyalty programs. Starting from booking your favourite latte beforehand to choosing your own Spotify playlist, the people absolutely love it.

Digital applications like Urban Clap, Starbucks and many more are not just making the lives of the people easier. They are making the crowd feel special and this way they are able to connect with their audience better. Some companies including Starbucks are vouching for the fact that the digital experience has helped them increase their sales which is reflecting in their yearend balance sheet.

Now that you have understood the power and potential of what digital transformation could bring in, your next train of thoughts will be towards creating a digital transformation roadmap. You need a well thought out strategy which can aid you in your journey towards seamless digital transformation.

How to formulate an effective digital transformation strategy?

  • In order to strategize a fool proof digital transformation plan, you need to ensure that you holistically cover the three major aspects of PPPPeople’, Process’ and Physical’.

It is true that digital transformation has a lot to do with software, perking up your IT department, bringing in AI but that brings us to the most important fact- who are we doing it for?

People’ is one of the most crucial aspects to be kept in mind while designing the transformation you want to bring about. Remember the approximately 7 billion people connected to the virtual world? That is your target customer and it is to cater to their needs that you are taking the pains of undergoing this change in the first place.

It is rightly said that customer is the key to success. The more you try to get up, close and personal with them through your products and services by understanding their needs, short comings and requirements, the more possibilities you create in making a place in their heart. A customer loves being pampered and taken utmost care of. The very fact that sitting in your home at 9o’clock at night, you can order and pay for your food through mobile applications and get it delivered right at your door-step shows how much the consumer is getting comfortable with this set-up.

Customer-comfort and customer centricity are the key to a having a successful digital make-over of your organization.

Also, People cover the aspect of the employees present in your organization, the cultural diversity that your organization can flaunt. Each person and each culture has a unique way of functioning. Any change you bring about in the operations and logistics of your company will directly impact the people working for you as they will want to resist the change initially. Try to understand their psyche and implement the changes accordingly.

You need to sensitize your people first by educating them and training them regarding the boon of this paradigm shift in the working style as well as why is it required. An organization which is used to handling a physical ledger book will take time and also resist the change of using an excel sheet to insert the records.

Next up in the line is Process’ which requires the major shift and revamp. It envelops the entire gamut of methodology, how to optimize the task and the flow chart of the job at hand. This is a challenging area as you are relying on ushering in digitization in your operations to solve your business problem statements.

Earlier it used to be very difficult for doctors to make accurate diagnosis of any disease especially if they are dealing with it for the first time. Thanks to artificial intelligence, the doctors are able to diagnose complicated cases within minutes as the AI is throwing the answer after sifting through millions of cases registered in its system.

The Process aspect involves end to end operation and logistics of turning the very idea of the product or the service into reality. It involves:

  1. Doing a thorough market research,
  2. Understanding the consumer behavior and perception towards your product or service,
  3. Following the journey of the consumer throughout the product or service life-cycle
  4. Is your target scalable
  5. Feedback loop. Different people will respond in a different way to your product. The way a customer experiences his or her journey with your product will help you brainstorm ideas regarding how you can engage with them which might include interacting with them digitally.
  6. It will help you to strategize your ideal digital campaigns in order to attract your target customers according to their circle of need.
  7. The Process aspect also involves how the people in your organization take up the change and adapt themselves to the new ecosystem.

So keep in mind the kind of technological revamp you need in your company.

Finally we come to the Physical’ aspect which comes to the implementation part- the hardware that you require to usher in the much talked about transformation.

It might involve revamping the entire set of hardware in your organization, upgrading the software and installing new ones, installing fully automated machines and removing the semi- automated ones especially if you are in the power or manufacturing industries. The avenue is wide.

  • Keep in mind the objectives of your business – the vision and the mission

Which sector or industry is your business catering to?

What do you want to achieve through your business?

What are the resources at your disposal?

Once you start answering these questions, immediately you will have a roadmap in front of you regarding how you can serve your customers better and increase the market reach. Rather than looking out for the needs of the people as your first step, keep your eye on what do you want to achieve in the end through your business. You will automatically see a lot of need areas arising in front of you when you have your goal in mind.

For example, the end goal of Starbucks is to deliver the best coffee in variety of flavors and forms that mankind has ever tasted. Since they have their end goal in place, they saw the need areas in terms of catering to the customers in a more efficient manner like booking and paying for your coffee earlier so that you can avoid the queue during peak office hours. This need area gave rise to the birth of new features in the Starbucks user-friendly application where you can select and pre-pay for your coffee.

  • Weigh your options through opportunity cost

As we mentioned earlier, don’t go for digital transformation for the heck of it or because it is a cool thing to do. It requires a lot of planning, commitment and cost. If you are looking for new revenue areas then make sure that you weigh in your opportunity cost.

For example Amazon has been testing the viability of drone shipping their products to the doorstep of its customer.

Sounds cool, right?

They have been testing this aspect for years now but few days back they showed the demo of a drone shipping the products through a video. The problem is US still restricts autonomous drone shipment and moreover Amazon confessed that they need a more robust technology to make drone shipping effective and faster.

So this brings us to some important points:

  1. Always check whether diving into your new venture will cost you more than the returns that you will get.
  2. Be on look out for the minute problems which can crop up that you might not think of while brainstorming ideas. Be it legal issues, country laws, implementation glitch, even a small hiccup in any of these areas can pose as a major problem.
  3. It is good to be ahead of times and create a new future, but do not pounce into the future so much that the present generation of people fails to keep up and your product fails.

It is always essential to have a complete blueprint of your plans which includes your financial set up; marketing cost, the process with which you will reach out to the consumers (will it take a lot of pain and expenses to find the right channels or mediums). Most importantly if you find that your cost of implementing the idea is more than your rate of return then it is time to go for Plan B.

Always have the window of what else’ and how else’ in your mind. Try to analyze deeply regarding the plans you are going through and whether there are any reasonable or more profitable alternatives available.

  • Have a robust Management Information System or MIS system

Information is the main key which will unlock the digital door towards endless possibilities. MIS helps in strategic report creation and decision making through all levels of hierarchical system. The creation of various user friendly applications, excellent and informative websites which are visually and operationally appealing, usage of analytics to predict the future market forecast based on the current data, as well as maintaining the humongous data base requires robust management technology in place to give a holistic digital experience. Uber, the online cab service application flaunts a huge database which can be used to study the customer demands and future needs.

It is a fortifying example of how the advent of digitalization has transformed the transportation scenario all over the world, with online mobile applications like Uber and Ola helping the people taking to the streets and travelling anywhere and everywhere.

This mobile application which caters to offering transportation to its customer requires extensive and high quality information system in place. Starting from taking the current location and the destination GPS location of the customer, to tracking the ride and finally accepting the payment whether online or offline, shows the brilliant MIS dynamics which has been put to play in order to transform the transportation industry digitally.

Management Information System consists of decision making tools, query systems, behavioral systems and analytical tools which help in gauging the data and coming up with various permutation combination of solutions. This helps the senior leadership of the company undertake some major decisions based on the reports and analytics at hand.

The inclusion of Artificial Intelligence, the advent of Big Data and the digital analytics tools have helped in information integration and craft a humongous data base from which information can be accessed anytime and anywhere.

  • Have a well organized Customer Relationship Management

We will be exhausting the adjectives if we try to throw some light on the importance of customer relationship management. Nowadays, the customer interaction has become very intense and round the clock, thanks to the advent of chat bots. Chat bots help in interacting with the customers even when more than half the world is asleep.

Here are some tips which you can implement in order to get a strong customer relationship management in your organization:

  1. Create a highly qualified network of customer relations executives.

Even if the chat bots are taking care of the customers when very few human beings will be available, nothing beats a human touch especially when the customer is in a mentally painful position. This one-on-one interaction with the customers makes them feel secured that you are there to take care of them. These kinds of interactions also bestow a sense of responsibility on the customer service executives to take care of the problem through end to end.

  1. Keep an eye on the customer

As emphasized earlier, you need to do a thorough market research based on your target customers in order to understand the void existing in the market. You need to keep an eye on them even before you can interact with them. The trends that your customer follows, his or her circle of interests as well as what your customer is looking for at present should be enlisted in your database for your perusal.

These kinds of techniques help you plan your digital interactions in a timely fashion. If your potential customer is searching for a car which is suitable for a rough terrain, and voila, he comes across your advertisement of a rugged car, tailor made for rough terrains which you are about to launch soon, you have already made him tilt towards you.

This can be achieved with the amalgamation of technology, planning and a treasure chest of information. Google Analytics can track website visitors by following’ them in the virtual world and checking which website are they surfing, the content they are consuming and the videos that are being watched by them.

  1. Have a great website in place.

Websites are one way through which your consumers can come to know more about you and also interact with you; a virtual space where you can flaunt your value proposition. Taking the above mentioned point forward, you can keep track of your customers who visit your website and remind’ them of the value proposition that you offer.

So here is how it happens;

When a potential customer visits your website, a cookie will get latched to the visitor and will start tracking its movements. The cookie will also carry the information and pixels present in your website and will display them wherever your potential customer travels virtually.

So now you know how you get to see the advertisements of the products which you have viewed 2 days ago in a completely different website than the one you are surfing at present.

  • Decide the type of Digital Agents that you want to employ in order to spread your offerings and message

“Siri, please call XYZ”, and your iPhone comes to life and calls XYZ. Siri’ is the artificial intelligence robot present in the iPhone. iPhones come with various sensing devices like face recognition, voice sensor, finger print sensor and what not. Some of these features are also present in most of the android phones. These sensing devices are linked to a cloud which stores all the information. The data transmission and reception takes place between the cloud and the sensing devices to facilitate the request of the user, in this case, calling XYZ.

This technology is known as Internet of Things (IoT).

Other Digital transformation agents include:

Remote Access– It is being heavily used by the transportation industry and the food delivery service industry in accessing your location through GPS and providing food or cab services.

Social Media – You can crib about its omnipresent aspect but you cannot deny the fact that if someone can give you a widespread outreach, and can spread your message through fancy texts, succinct videos or info-graphics, it is none other than your all encompassing friends like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and few others.

In your quest to digital transformation, it would be wise on your part to reach out to maximum audience and convey the unique selling factor (USP) that you can offer to them.

  • Beware of being a victim of Digital Disruption. Be the Digital Disrupter instead.

The technology is advancing at a galloping pace. One fine morning you will find yourself face to face with an organization who has not only mastered the art of emulating your value proposition at a more efficient pace but also has managed to add value to your value chain. Your competitor has come up with better, bolder, smarter and more apt services than the values that you were offering to the market.

Poof! Your organization will take a downward plunge and will find itself out of business.

There! You have become a victim of digital disruption.

Netflix has disrupted the CD and DVD market. Ola and Uber have disrupted the traditional cab services market.

Now I guess you got your answer to the million dollar question that has been hovering in your mind.

Why do we need to go for digital transformation?

The simple answer is, to save you from digital disruption.

Go ahead and be the disrupter instead. As we have discussed above, you have all the tools at hand, your vision and mission is laid out in a crystal clear fashion and with the support of digital transformation agents and considerable investment in technology, you can be the market leader instead of being the market follower.

  • Hire the right and the bright

The type of people you have in your organization plays a major role in chalking the future course of action. The dynamic changes that you are thinking of implementing will be considered as your present investment to secure your future.

You should focus on having the right mix of employees in your organization. Those bright minds will not only lay the foundation of your road to digital transformation but will also be able to contribute with his or her grey cells in paving the digital transformation roadmap ahead.

Have a mix of highly professional HR who can understand the current need of your organization and hire the right minds. You will definitely have a steady requirement of a bevy of technical analysts and technological leads who have a good command over various queries to handle the database as well as well versed in technological domain like big data, hadoop, blockchain and many more.

Your focus should be solely into leveraging all the factors like technology, innovation, information database and the resources at your disposal to bring about the successful implementation of your digital transformation strategy. Understand this that digital transformation is not solely about improving your IT department or focusing on digital marketing campaigns or improving the logistics of your company. It is the amalgamation of all the above aspects, that is, TIIR- Technology, Innovation, Information, Resources.

The result of the innovation driven and technologically implemented digital transformation should result in the ultimate goal of providing superior customer satisfaction. This entire end to end process gets fulfilled when the goals, resources and the medium through which this is to be achieved is channelized optimally.

So gear up folks and usher in the advent of digital transformation.

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Chris Peter Kimera is the co-founder of TechTIQ Solutions, a software development agency in London. Chris is very passionate about building highly effective outsourced product development teams that build game-changing solutions

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