Technology in business is nothing new. Having the latest upgrades can lead to you getting a leg up on your competition, being more efficient with your time and doing more with less. That being said, you shouldn’t blindly rush into adding every new technology you can get your hands on since the disruption that causes and the confusion surrounding how to use it can actually lower your output. So, what are you to do when you need to find a balance between the two? Well, that’s where digital transformation comes in.
You might be thinking, what is digital transformation? Well, digital transformation is about implementing new technology into your business. It’s not simply sticking things in and hoping that they work, but a complicated process designed to get the best out of new technology as it becomes available while also keeping disruption to your day to day operations to a minimum.
Usually digital transformation is something that happens slowly, over time, with many test processes and trials before concrete changes are made on a large scale, but thanks to the devastating changes wrought on businesses by the COVID-19 pandemic implementing certain technologies has become a necessity rather than something to potentially consider in the future.
How To Implement Digital Transformation
When you’re attempting to digitize your business and add in new technology, there’s several key steps you need to go through before you can call your implementation a success. The steps listed below are all key in creating a good digital transformation strategy, but it’s important to remember that they’re not a linear process - you can cycle back and adjust your view of things as new information becomes available.
The first step you take is to research your position. What technology do you currently use, and what is available to upgrade to? Which parts of your business run slowly and could be sped up with digitization? What problems do you currently face that technology could solve? It’s vital to gather information from all parts of your business that might be affected by a change, and definitely to get your intel from those right in the mix.
There’s an old adage, “in matters of boots, refer to the bootmaker.” This holds fast in business, with those who work directly with certain procedures and equipment having greater insight into their workings and what might potentially prove an obstacle than those who merely oversee. Your personnel are a key source of information that you mustn’t overlook, especially when looking for potential problems with integrating new technology.
Another issue to look into is what your competitors are using. Granted, they won’t always have the best ideas and can overreach themselves, but what they are using can be a good tip as to what you might want to implement (if legally available to see, of course).
Once you have your data, you need to analyze it. By comparing the pros and cons of each technology, you can decide whether it’s worth implementing. On the other hand, by looking at potential disruptions and problems that it might cause, you can determine if it’s feasible to use. The specifics will vary from business to business and there’s no set metric for what is and isn’t worth it, so you will need to use your instincts and decide for yourself.
When considering the pros and cons, one of the most important is cost. If you’re a multinational corporation with billions to spare, cost is not likely to be an issue. If, however, you’re a small business who can’t afford to keep up with the absolute latest upgrades, consider slightly older pieces of tech. Whenever a new iPhone or PlayStation is released the cost of older models tends to drop as they’re not as desirable any more, and you can take advantage of this. These days newer models don’t tend to function that differently or that much more effectively than their direct predecessors, as a general rule. It’s not true in all cases of course, but can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Disruptions to your business are something else you have to factor in, more specifically lost revenue. If you have to shut your business down for a day in order to implement a new technology, you’re losing a day's worth of profit. The amount of disruption tends to be larger with smaller businesses, who aren’t segmented into divisions or departments which makes the process much less disruptive overall.
The third stage is planning. Simply put, you need to decide what new technology you’re going to implement, how it will be done and how you’ll overcome any issues that might arise. Remember, no plan can account for 100% of the factors that might affect your upgrades so your plan should be flexible enough to account for alterations that might need to be made.
So, how do you go about making a plan? Not to fear, there are stages to that as well. You start at the end, with what it is that you want to implement and how you want it to work, then work backwards. Need to replace a computer with a different model? You’ll need to train those using them on the differences in how they operate. Want to use a certain piece of software instead of the current one you’re using? Check what techniques and shortcuts are available in each and what retraining might be needed.
Another factor you need to include in your planning is resistance to change. Fighting against changes is human nature, it’s something that is going to happen in some amount no matter how well you prepare for it. You can take steps to minimize the damage that it will cause however, such as preparing your personnel for the changes that will take place, gradually implementing changes over time instead of all at once in order to keep your staff from being overwhelmed, and encouraging participation in the new procedures and technologies with workshops and tutorials.
Author: Efrat Vulfsons is a data-driven writer and freelance publicist, parallel to her soprano opera singing career. Efrat holds a B.F.A from the Jerusalem Music Academy in Opera Performance.
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