Let’s Face It, Not Every Company Is Ready For Digital Transformation. Are You?
Anything worth doing is hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Take whichever cliché you want and apply it to digital transformation.
Today, companies of all shapes and sizes are looking at their organizations and applying digital techniques to help them leapfrog the competition or accelerate rapid growth.
But not all companies are ready. Not all companies have the leadership, assets or capabilities to tackle digital transformation. Are you ready?
Take a look at the questions below, and if you can’t answer yes to most of them, you’re probably not ready. But if you can answer yes to most of them, you should be hitting the gas pedal and pushing the envelope to get you there as soon as possible.
Here are nine questions to ask yourself and your business to uncover if you’re ready for digital transformation.
This is easy. Do you ever hear people say, “That’s not how we do it here.” If the answer is yes, you’re not ready. If you have a culture that’s supportive of digital transformation, everyone should be questioning everything.
They should be asking:
All possible solutions and options should be on the table. Sometimes the best ideas are the wildest, and sometimes the craziest ideas trigger amazing solutions that are doable and reasonable.
Digital transformation usually affects everything in the organization eventually. Is your entire organization ready? Is everyone aligned and open to looking at every aspect of the business? Business processes, business policies and even business rules could come under review when you start looking at transforming the business.
Are you open to this level of consideration?
Do you have the required skills and knowledge in-house? Talent management becomes more important than ever. You need to recruit people who are eager to learn and adapt and who are curious and embrace change.
In addition to troops with impressive work experience, you also need to have people who are digital natives. Most of us over the age of 40 are immigrants to the digital world, meaning we’ve learned along the way; we weren’t born into it. People under 40 are natives; they’ve been brought up with digital as a key component of everything they do.
This doesn’t mean you need to hire a crew of millennials, but it does mean you should assess your current team and their skills, and start actively recruiting for the gaps that might cause your transformation work to stumble, slow down or get delayed.
This refers to prospects, people who don’t currently work with you. Have you, in detail, mapped out the journey associated with purchasing products and services like the ones you sell?
This might be slightly different based on role, industry or product/service line. You’ll have to look at all variations to see if there are differences.
But most importantly, you should map out every touch point, every question they might have and every potential interaction with your company.
Only then will you be able to apply digital solutions and technology to make that experience and their buyer journey remarkable. The more remarkable and the more personal you make this journey, the more rapid growth your company will experience.
Consider Amazon. Before them, people had to physically go to the store. Today, products simply show up at their doorstep. That’s the kind of transformation you should be thinking about.
Let’s apply the same thinking to your current customers. Do you have the customer experience mapped out? Have you considered what enhancements need to be made to the customer experience to make it dramatically more efficient, enjoyable and remarkable?
When Netflix customers had to wait for their movies to show up in their mailbox, the company decided it would be better if people could get their movies, shows and content instantly. The resulting transformation propelled Netflix to be one of the most successful companies in history, and they singlehandedly eliminated the video store.
What do your customers want? Not what can you provide to them, but what do they want? There should be no limitations around this conversation. There are no bad ideas. What would your customers want from you that would ensure they never leave you? What would ensure they get what they need faster than they get it today? What could you do that none of your competitors currently do?
Are you ready to answer these questions?
I’m not going into specifics here. Every company and every industry is going to need different technology to deliver parts of the digital transformation journey.
But digital capabilities are a prerequisite to excel in the long term. The most fundamental technology enabler of transformation is a digital platform with integrated data and processes. You need to harvest this data and turn it into insights.
It's very likely that you don’t have the technology to do everything you might aspire to do, but rest assured there are likely solutions that you can add to your efforts that will enable your transformation to move forward.
Don’t consider building until you’ve exhausted your buying efforts. First look for what is already proven and working instead of trying to build it yourself.
Many years ago, I was the director of marketing for a travel management company and worked on the first online booking software for the travel industry. While we were working on it, Microsoft came out with Expedia.
It would have been better for us to license that technology instead of trying to build it. We were a travel management company, not a technology company. Microsoft was in a much better position to build this and we were the perfect customer.
Speaking of partners, no company can do everything well. Have you identified what parts of this you’ll do well and what partners you need to supplement your efforts?
You need to be part of the efforts to support collaboration and networking among the participating companies. But you’ll also need to pay attention to how well the various players collaborate seamlessly to solve a problem or meet a specific business need.
In many cases, you can identify win-win scenarios for partners, with solutions that work for your business and for their businesses too. Are you ready to consider new and innovative partner relationships with outside companies?
This is a big one because the money required is almost always significant. Regardless of your size, it’s going to require investment to transform any business. Have you accurately estimated the entire investment requirement? Has the company and its leadership, including the board, signed off on it?
If not, at some point, the money is going to attract attention and questions are going to be asked. The last situation you want is to get 50% down the road and have the plug pulled on the funding.
It would be better to stage any major transformation project, show results and justify the investment, with the understanding that after each gate is successfully cleared new money is available to continue the transformation effort.
Here’s the biggest question on the list. Have you identified what the business will look like when you’re done? What are the specific business outcomes you expect to deliver when you’re finished? When do you expect to be finished? (If ever; some transformation exercises are ongoing.)
You have to realize legitimate business outcomes. It could be revenue growth, it could be a sale of the company, it could be a merger with another firm or it could be removing an entire part of the ecosystem like Netflix did to Blockbuster.
It could be accelerated hockey-stick-style growth numbers. Whatever the outcomes, they have to be documented, agreed on, aligned with the required investment and then used to anchor any of the specific projects that are part of your digital transformation strategy.
If you answered even no to one or two of these questions, you’re not ready. You have more work to do internally to get your culture, team or technology aligned. But if you answered yes to most of these questions, it should be full speed ahead.
If you’re ready and considering moving your business forward in 2021, and digital transformation across marketing, sales and service is part of your strategic plan, don’t miss The Butterfly Project – 8 Days Of Digital Transformation And Revenue Growth. This growth week experience is packed with content, and over the eight days you’ll learn exactly how to move forward.