I’ll start with ranty disclaimer, if I may: I bloody hate the phrase ‘digital transformation’. I wince when I say it, and I file it alongside other daily undesirables, such as the Tesco Meal Deal, or instant coffee.
But it’s a phrase so often used across social media and meetings… and I can’t really think of a better alternative – at least one that will stick. So here I am, late on a damp January Tuesday evening, writing about it. Plus, you’re all Googling it.
You’re probably Googling it because, like me, you’ve been to many a generic business conference to be told you must undertake digital transformation RIGHT NOW. You’re told that if you don’t the WORLD WILL END and your company won’t survive when you realise you can’t retrieve your big data from your dual-factor-authenticated-avocado-cloud.
Say what, now?!?
Relax and grab a (proper) coffee. Froth up the oat milk… I’m here to help.
On the most basic level, digital transformation is the “use of modern technologies to improve business function”.
To continue down the official and polite path, it’s about using technology to enable new business strategies and to maximise the power of data, people and processes. Technologies like the internet of things, cloud, analytics and artificial intelligence can turn data into powerful insights that help businesses deliver more value to customers faster than ever before, improve internal efficiency, streamline processes and innovate quicker and with more flexibility.
Or alternatively, if you’re still a little WTF, let me break this down a bit…
Digital transformation is using tech to do ‘stuff’ quicker, cleverererererer, and more autonomously. And the cleverererererer bit can become more cleverererererer the more you transform – the autonomous bit can log loads of information, which can feedback into your processes.
So, When you ‘tap’ to travel, ‘click’ to buy and ‘swipe right’ to match. That right there… digital transformation. You’re not going down the travel agents to book, the department store to purchase, or the local discotheque to impersonate Uncle Buck on the dance floor…
Serious point: a mistake people often make is that digital transformation will, by necessity, change what a business offers. Don’t fall into this trap; the goal is to create a more efficient, flexible and user-friendly environment and provide the right digital tools to support all that your business offer.
Also digital transformation is not a new phenomenon and it’s nothing to be scared about. Despite my personal loathing of the phrase itself, the actual concept, process and practice of digital transformation is something Spork helps companies with. A lot.
1. We take the time to understand what you do.
Frequently people come to us with a project or opportunity defined, and if that’s the case, great. But whether they have or not, we still want a full picture of everything that the organisation does. Not only because it fascinates us, but because it’s also important. The more we know – warts ‘n’ all – the more we can help. No snippet of information is useless.
2. We discuss how you want to (or need to) change.
This may be a blindingly obvious target within a business, like ‘increase profit’, and that would be absolutely fine. Sometimes though, it’s more nuanced than that. Your client demographic might need to shift, you might need to fulfil some new area of compliance or accountability. It might just be a case of identifying why you have a high turnover of staff (or clients). Whatever the reason you have come to us… knowing the ultimate motivation is really crucial to making sure we all focus.
3. We Identify an opportunity
This opportunity might take on of several forms.
i. Smooth the customer experience
Your customers are getting choosier and more impatient. Your amazing product will tank if it’s a pain to access. They want 24/7 access on their device. They want it smooth. They want it intuitive. They want it snappy.
ii. Free up employees, boost innovation
Happy employees, happy business. Repetition in administrative tasks is one of the most infuriating things in the workplace, so we find this to be a good place to start. Your employees only want to input the same data once. Just… once… and if they’re not then that can changed. Furthermore, there’s also a plethora of tools that allow for real-time collaboration, centralised file storing and CRM that ease the average working day. Implementing such changes will stimulate teamwork and innovation.
iii. Unlock the power of data
Digitising data can be analysed, manipulated, and used to infer more interesting data. Search, sorting and reviewing is deeper and easier. Thus, the information can be found faster and the lessons learned implemented to better effect. Looking at patterns and trends enable businesses to understand not only what’s been happening but to prepare for what’s likely to happen in the future.
iv. Be more flexible
Thanks to modern technologies, you can get your stuff done anywhere and anytime. If you wish you don’t need an office and you don’t need to be there 9-5pm. Digital transformation means working collaboratively with your team, securely and wherever you wish. Want to take a Slack call on the sofa? In your Airbnb? With a view of the Alhambra? Fill your boots!
v. Expand your resource network
Cloud-based tools for collaboration and communications allow you to recruit from a wider pool geographically and leverage knowledge and input from experts around the globe.
4. Speak to stakeholders
A software developers’ fable:
A company survives on a critical yet complicated and flimsy spreadsheet. A new employee arrives and says, “WTF is this? We need to build a custom application. Find me some developers.’ A development team comes in and builds an all singing automated system, that the new employee has helped them design. The company is happy, yet 3 months down the line some departments find that the application doesn’t work for them, so the company goes back to the team to shoehorn loads of functionality that wasn’t really modelled into the original application. 6 months down the line, another department does the same, and within 2 years, an unmaintainable system creaks under the weight of technical debt and hacks. Then, someone arrives and says, ‘WTF is this? Can’t we just do this on a spreadsheet?’
Digital transformation needs to have your staff on board. Everyone needs to know why it’s happening. Speaking to your staff is crucial in your project being a success. We expect to learn from them.
5. Do it
Once we’ve been through all of the steps above, the solution then presents itself as one of the following.
6. Support it
Spork will not dev ‘n ditch. We understand that all solutions need nurturing, supporting, upgrading, and tweaking as your business develops. And we have your back the whole way.
If you’re thinking about how Digital Transformation might ease pressures in your business, then at Spork we’ll be happy to chat. We might even find ways to improve it to boot!! Why don’t you pop in for a decent coffee?