How to Prepare Your Business For Digital Transformation

12 mins

Unlock the Power of Digital Transformation with Expert Guidance. Explore the Importance, Strategies, and Impact of Technology on Business Growth.

Through our experience and expertise, we understand the importance businesses place on digital transformation to the future of their organisation. The rise of technology has profoundly affected all aspects of our lives. 

Business, education, healthcare, and politics are just some areas of society that the development of technology has completely transformed. For example, technology helps us travel, increase productivity, teach and learn, communicate, save lives, protect our finances, and grow food. To highlight its effects, 67% of the population of developed countries believe that digital technologies have improved their lives. 

This rise of technology will only increase, particularly as Gen Z, who have grown up in this digital age, begin to increase their economic power. Therefore, businesses must keep pace with the new technology and ensure their organisation and its workforce implement an effective and seamless transformation strategy. With this in mind, how will you develop an effective digital transformation strategy for your organisation? This article will explore what digital transformation is, its importance, and how businesses can adapt and implement their transformation. 

What is Digital Transformation? 

Digital Transformation is the process of increasing the use of technology to create or modify existing business processes, customer experience, or workplace culture to meet changing business and market requirements. 

These transformations can often be major projects, requiring the examining and reinventing of all facets of an organisation, from workflows to supply chains to culture to customer experience. However, Digital Transformation also develops the infrastructure and skills needed to take advantage of fast-evolving technologies that could give an organisation a competitive advantage. 

The idea of digital transformation can be traced back to the 1950s and 1970s with the digital revolution. This period saw the development of technology from mechanical and analogue to digital. Digital computers and digital record keeping became normal. People began communicating via computers, cell phones, and the internet, changing human behaviour, business, and everyday life forever. 

Why Digital Transformation is Important 

The world around us is moving further and further into the digital age. Technology is advancing at a rapid rate, and this is changing consumers' habits and expectations. So at the heart of every organisation's digital transformation should be the customer, as they are the lifeblood of your business. Marc Benioff, Chairman and CO-CEO of Salesforce, commented: 

'Every digital transformation is going to begin and end with the customer, and I can see that in the minds of every CEO I talk to.'

One market which highlights this more than most is the eCommerce sector. eCommerce is booming and has experienced incredible growth in the last few years as shoppers move off the high street to online. Here is a selection of stats highlighting the market's sheer size. 

  • Global eCommerce sales are projected to reach £3.95 ($5.4) trillion by the end of 2022. 

  • The UK eCommerce market has grown by 324% in the last ten years.

  • The UK eCommerce market was worth £182.9 billion in 2021. 

  • US eCommerce sales are expected to surpass $1 trillion in 2022.

eCommerce companies such as Amazon, ASOS, and eBay don't just want to be known as online shopping websites; they want to revolutionise our shopping behaviours and move them into the digital age. Furthermore, it is not just consumers that are embracing the digital age. Did you know that according to a survey by Gartner, 83% of B2B buyers prefer buying online or paying through digital commerce? 

It is now crucial for all businesses, not just eCommerce, to adapt to how the digital age has transformed consumer habits and expectations. As previously discussed, Gen Z will continue to gain economic power, so the necessity for businesses to adapt becomes increasingly essential. Due to these changing consumer demands, many companies have a choice for their future, innovate, or face potential extinction. 

The importance of digital transformation is only going to increase in the future. Technology is evolving at an incredible pace, and consumers' habits will constantly adapt to these changes. 

In 2019, the world entered a dark period of its history, the Covid-19 pandemic. Next, we will explore how the pandemic forced many businesses to accelerate their digital transformations. 

The Effect of Covid-19 on Digital Transformation Strategy

The Covid-19 pandemic changed everything. As the world locked down, the need for technology increased as businesses desperately scrambled for ways to continue to be able to function. 

For businesses, the lockdown of society was a potential disaster, especially those used to physical workspaces, e.g. offices and retail. They had to find a way to get their stay-at-home workforce to continue their jobs whilst confined to their bedrooms and kitchens. Otherwise, they risked substantial financial losses or, worse, closure. So many organisations went under a rather speedy digital transformation. 

The popularity of SaaS companies, such as Zoom video communication, boomed during the pandemic. Zoom allowed businesses to conduct video calls for employee meetings, client calls, and video conferences. The use of Zoom meant communication was not lost, despite the lockdowns, allowing businesses to continue to grow and engage with their employees and customers. This resulted in Zoom's annual net income rising from $7 million in 2018 to over $1 billion in 2021. 

It wasn't just the workforce that saw this increase in digital transformation due to the pandemic. As the shops closed and people were stuck in their homes, online shopping increased, with people buying food, clothes, and more of life's necessities. For example, internet sales rose from 19.7% of all retail sales in the UK to 26% in May 2022. 

Whilst online shopping was a growing trend over several years, the pandemic exacerbated this. With this in mind, businesses had to learn to adapt to this increased demand. As a result, consumers saw companies growing services such as click and collect, the ability to purchase through social media channels, and video sales consultancies.  

It is clear that whilst digital transformation was already increasing in the lead-up to 2019, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced businesses to make radical changes to continue functioning, stay productive, and continue to grow. 

In light of the increased pressure from the pandemic for businesses to adapt to meet consumer expectations and needs, we will explore how to develop a digital transformation strategy. 

How to Develop a Digital Transformation Strategy 

It is too simplistic to say that digital transformation is just to do with IT and technology; it is more to do with redefining your whole business’s strategy and culture. However, if you want to meet the expectations of customers and markets and stay ahead of your competitors, your organisation needs to embrace the digital age.

So what can you do to ensure your organisation is ready for the digital journey? Let's explore methods to ensure you and your workforce are fully prepared for life during and after the digital transformation. 

Empowering your Team to Embrace Change 

As part of your digital transformation, you must ensure that your team is prepared for these major changes. With any significant changes, a workforce is bound to feel some anxiety and even show some resistance. 

Business leaders need to empower their teams, to help them feel confident and thrive during this period of change. Here are some ideas to help empower your teams:

1. Workforce Centred Communication 

Research carried out by Nintex, a process management and automation company, found that 67% of managers knew what digital transformation was in their own company compared to 27% of non-managers. The survey highlighted the effects of a lack of communication and transparency from the top down on the understanding of digital transformation. Clear communication is vital for digital transformation to be successful and implemented correctly. 

Rather than letting information about the changes trickle down from the top to the bottom of the workforce, get employees involved in the discussions. For example, hold town halls or Q&As, enabling you to communicate with the workforce and giving the employees the opportunity to ask questions and share ideas. Allowing them the chance to speak will help build their understanding of why this is happening and how it will help improve their working practices. It will also enable them to raise concerns which will help quell anxiety. 

2. Install a Centre of Excellence (CoE) 

A Centre of Excellence is a group of people who all share a shared area of focus and expertise. They support the broader workforce by providing tips, training, insights, and research. CoEs are generally made up of experts from each department, e.g. IT, marketing, operations, and customer service. 

The benefits of a CoE are that leadership of the transformation is clearly defined, employees can approach them for training, coaching, and advice, and they can help seek and implement opportunities which allow employees to play a part in the transformation process. 

3. Digital Transformation as a Problem Solver 

There is an age old argument about technology replacing humans in the workforce. During a period of digital transformation, many employees may start to feel these concerns, and as leaders, it is up to you to address these worries. 

By providing proper guidance, you can help the workforce understand how digital transformation is going to help improve their work practices by offloading cumbersome processes and advancing business-critical ones. This guidance will help ease fears that they are being replaced, and the technology is there to help improve their day-to-day roles. 

Hiring the Right People to Drive Success

Whilst focusing on empowering your current workforce is vitally important, it is critical to further build the workforce by recruiting employees who help drive the implementation of digital transformation and its success. 

Organisations with a strong digitalisation strategy have one aspect in common: a talented team behind it driving it forward. Therefore, when recruiting, you must bring in people with the skills, attitudes, and personalities to implement an effective digital strategy. Here are a few tips to help your organisation attract the right talent for your digital transformation strategy:

1. Sell the Vision

If your organisation is going through a significant and exciting digital transformation, sell this to potential talent. Creating a vision of changes that are taking place and the role the candidate could play in this process makes working for the company a rewarding and inspiring prospect. For example, this vision could include the following:

Digital Transformation Strategy - Prospective talent needs to understand and buy into an organisation's strategy. Be transparent with the candidate and give them an insight into the process, including: 

  • The purpose of the transformation. 

  • The significant changes that will take place. 

  • Any completion timeframes.

  • Their role in the transformation. 

  • Benefits of the transformation.

Helping the candidate understand the vision will help decipher whether or not they are on board and can help drive this vision and if the candidate is the right person to implement it. 

Clear and accessible career paths - The most attractive companies offer specific and flexible career paths. Top talent, from project managers to business analysts, are usually highly ambitious people, so make sure you envision how their hard work can be rewarded through progression. Help them understand the career path they can take, how they get there, and the benefits of doing so (salary, bonus etc.). 

Training and development opportunities - Top employees always seek to improve and want opportunities to learn. Therefore, as part of selling your vision, you should first make sure you have a learning and development strategy in place and, through this strategy, what opportunities and tools are available for employees to develop. 

2. Support from a specialist recruitment firm 

Finding the best talent in a crowded market can take time and effort, especially if you are trying to find it independently. Working with a recruitment firm can help ease the stress and free up your time to focus on your business. 

It is essential to be honest, and transparent with an agency to help them understand what you're looking for in a candidate. For example, what skills they need, if they can fit into the business culture, their vision for digital transformation, and if in a senior position, how they can empower the workforce. Many recruitment agencies offer specialist services, such as executive search, which helps you locate niche or senior roles. 

Once you have developed crucial methods of helping your organisation's brand to be attractive in the talent market, you must ensure that your recruitment process is effective, seamless, and, importantly, in line with digital transformation. Next, we will explore how digital transformation can help develop your organisation's recruitment process. 

Use Technology in your Recruitment Process

As with the rise of working from home, many businesses' recruitment processes have also made the technology change. Digital Transformation allows companies to carry out their recruitment strategy remotely if necessary, which can help speed up the process and make it more efficient. It can also help you tap into talent which is not local, meaning you open your business up to a broader pool of highly-skilled candidates. 

Here are a few digital changes businesses can make to their recruitment process: 

  • Conducting interviews over video communication platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft. 

  • Use digital document signature programs to send essential documents to candidates and new hires. This will enable you to receive documents quickly and get a quicker start date in the case of new hires. 

  • Create an online onboarding and training experience for new candidates. This will help new employees feel engaged with their new role and help them get connected to their team. 

  • Use applicant tracking systems to create applicant pools, which will help you identify the most qualified candidates and keep track of applicants throughout the interview process.

Furthermore, you are already adapting potential candidates to your company's processes, technologies, and culture by having a digital-led recruitment process. This process will help establish if the candidate is the right fit for you and if your organisation is the right for them. 

Need Digital Transformation Support?

As we have explored, whilst crucial in this digital age, implementing a robust digital transformation strategy can be challenging. It requires the right talent, leaders, and culture to ensure it is rolled out properly and organisations can feel the full benefits of the new technology. 

Feel you need expert guidance in your business's digital transformation? Then Pareto are here to support. As market leaders, we assess, place, and train the best change, transformation, and technology graduate support. We have built a proud global reputation as a first-class and unique training destination. We provide instant and diverse resources for your projects, and our trained specialists are ready to be installed and deployed into your organisation. Our support will help your business realise its true potential. 

If you want further information about our services that will help your business in its digital transformation, please contact us or visit our dedicated transformation page.

Looking to strengthen your Business?

Let's Talk