The term digital transformation has been bandied about a lot in business circles for some time. Many companies think that it means using social media or software to organise a business. But the truth is that it involves a lot more than just that. Real digital transformation in your business includes culture too.
You have to be able to coordinate management and employees and change how your social structure thinks. Digital technology makes many working practices utterly obsolete. It also makes many positions obsolete. And for these reasons, you’re likely to face a good degree of resistance to implementing any changes you feel are necessary.
As we approach the end of this decade, it’s becoming more and more obvious that digital tech can’t be siloed. It’s spreading out into all aspects of business and transforming all lines of work. It’s key that you get your people on board, no matter whether you’re using apparel software for your clothing shop, or CRM for a bank.
Get Your Board On Board
The first step in making a digital transformation of your business is to get your board to sign up to the idea. But this can be difficult. Recently the AA, a car breakdown service, took its business digital.
One of the biggest obstacles the reformers faced come from the board itself. Many board members had been around for a long time. Few of them understood the magnitude of the changes in the digital economy. Some were operating on business models that were hopelessly out of date.
Reformers got board members to change their mind through their vision of what AA services could be like in the future. But it was tough. Engaging people on the board is difficult and explains why so many businesses have fallen behind in recent years.
The fact that board members don’t want to change is backed up by a report by research agency Organic. The agency found that 62 percent of employees feel that the biggest barrier to going digital is the company leadership itself.
The advice from movers and shakers in the AA is to break the problem down into chunks board members understand. Don’t try to sell sweeping changes all in one go. Instead, suggest changing smaller pieces of the business, one by one. Then try to build these changes into a transformative end product.
Technology and customer behaviour go hand in hand. When one changes, so does the other. It’s important, therefore, that customer’s needs are met during the transition. Just a few years ago, 72 percent of big clothing brand sales came from catalogues. Now, however, 63 percent come from mobile devices. Gareth Jones is the deputy CEO of Shop Direct. He says that apparel software has helped his company provide a better online experience for his customers. There’s more data and personalisation than was possible using paper.
His business knows that it is on to a good thing and it’s investing a lot of its money in new partnerships. There’s still a lot of work to be done, he says. But going digital has been critical for the shop’s success.