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What is digital transformation?

By Sarah Bloomfield on 28.10.16 in News

It's the buzzword of the moment and a term that is becoming a bit over-used, so it's surprising that a lot of people still don't fully understand what digital transformation is. We hope that our explanation will go some way to clearing things up as well as giving you an insight into how to apply it to your business. 

Transformation is a whole scale change to the foundations of a business - from the way it operates to how it is structured. This can go as far as what the company sells or the services it offers to the way it takes it's offering to market. Let's get one thing straight - businesses don't transform unless they have to because it is an expensive and risky business. 

There are some key drivers that prompt a business to transform - it might be consumer demand, changing technology or competition. 

So, essentially digital transformation can cover anything from creating a fully responsive mobile website to developing a social media strategy, but it can also mean a whole lot more. It means businesses need to adapt their people and processes to the new technology and shift to a 'digital first' way of thinking. 

While businesses need to 'go digital' in order to keep up with their competitors, it isn't an easy task to get board-level buy-in. Digital transformation requires input from across the entire business, which means senior leaders and the c-suite need to be onboard from the get-go. Once you have that buy-in, it is vital that any changes are shared with the rest of the company. Digital transformation is about adapting the culture of the business and the way it works with new technology, rather than trying to make the new tech fit in with the old way of doing things. 

Naturally, people's behaviour is also changing, because they can see there are better ways of working and organizing their work and private life, meaning that people actually have the opportunity to work in smarter, more efficient ways - thanks to digital technology and it's wholesale adoption. 

Of course we all know that digital won't stand still, so it is important that as technology changes and develops alongside customer behaviour, your company constantly monitors how it is serving your customer's real needs. 

Many companies have set time-frames for their transformation projects, but others won't ever have a proper completion date because of the speed of development in digital tech and changing customer behaviour - it means businesses have to be able to adapt more quickly, work in sprints and operated outside their old silos. If companies fail to adapt, then their business model is under threat. Remember, there is always a smarter, nimbler competitor lurking in the shadows to overtake you with a more innovative approach, a better use of data or technology and ultimately pinch your spot in the market. 

Business as usual is no longer good enough.