Posted 4th December 2020
“When digital transformation is done right, it’s like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.”
– George Westerman (MIT principal research scientist and author of Leading Digital: Turning Technology Into Business Transformation)
It’s safe to say that 2020 has been a year like no other. With the advent of the novel coronavirus, we had to adapt the way we work and live almost overnight to stop the spread of the virus. Keeping two meters apart and wearing masks became a part of the ‘new normal’ and words like ‘social distancing’, ‘r number’ and ‘quarantine’ became ingrained in our vocabulary. Yes, 2020 has been a challenging year indeed, especially for businesses.
Whilst there are many lessons to be learned from the pandemic, perhaps one of the biggest learning curves for businesses is the importance of having the right technology and a sound digital strategy. Indeed, the pandemic highlighted the very real need for effective digital transformation management, especially in businesses or industries that were behind the times. With the transition to remote working happening almost overnight, businesses reliant on outdated technology and inefficient processes soon realised the negative impact this had on productivity, collaboration and profitability.
That being said, it’s safe to say that the pandemic has accelerated both the development and need for meaningful digital transformation; a strategy that was once considered future-proofing is now becoming increasingly necessary to survive in this hostile and volatile economy.
In this article, we’ll be looking back at the lessons to be learned from 2020, and how to approach the question of digital transformation in 2021.
Digital transformation refers to a process of utilising digital technology to create better ways of working and more efficient processes, resulting in increased productivity, happier customers and ultimately, a more profitable business. Embracing new digital technology is only part of digital transformation, however; the strategy requires an all-encompassing change in business culture to be successful. Indeed, whilst adopting emails in place of fax machines or replacing printed with digital files are examples of ‘going digital’, true digital transformation transcends siloed modernisation projects and focuses on a complete overhaul of processes, integrating digital technology for greater efficiency.
Digital transformation can bring a plethora of benefits to your business including:
One of the biggest benefits of digital transformation is increased efficiency and productivity. The strategy requires an honest, and in-depth analysis of current business processes– one that highlights weaknesses, inefficiencies and outdated technology. It then examines how digital technology could be utilised to improve or replace old ways of working for optimum efficiency. Digital transformation also allows for greater integration and interoperability between processes, as well as greater automation of day-to-day administrative tasks, which allows employees to maximise their time and output.
Enhance customer experience
Perhaps an unexpected but pleasant side effect of digital transformation is the ability to pass on increased efficiency, better communication and improved understanding onto your customer base. These days, customers expect instant connection with businesses across a variety of platforms, whether that’s phone or emails, or social media. The ability to integrate these channels helps your business to deliver a better customer experience and respond to customers quickly and efficiently. Indeed, more companies are embracing AI technology in the form of a ‘chatbot’ to instantly reply and engage with customers, keeping them happy and improving customer experience.
While it may sound like just another buzzword, digital transformation is here to stay, and will no doubt continue to impact the way we live and work. According to a study by Harvard Business, 80% of business leaders believe that their industry will be disrupted by digital. Businesses that have successfully adopted digital transformation have a competitive edge; they can provide better customer service, benefit from increased efficiency and have a greater ability to react to the changing demands of the market. On the other hand, businesses with low digital maturity are bound to get left behind and will be unable to compete in an increasingly digitalised world.
The ability to react quickly to changes in your market or industry, or, as coronavirus has shown us, the unexpected and unplanned, is essential to business survival. Having the right digital technology and corresponding processes in place allows you to adapt to changing circumstances quickly and seamlessly, allowing your business to stay ahead of the game while your competitors struggle to keep up. Remote working is a perfect example of this; businesses with the right tech and digital processes could easily transition to working from home, while those without were left scrambling to modernise- losing vital productivity in the process.
One of the biggest reasons to implement digital transformation in your business is the positive impact it has on your overall company profitability. Increasing process efficiency and employee productivity is a sure-fire way to improve your business’s bottom line. Indeed, 80% of businesses who have successfully implemented digital transformation have experienced an overall increase in profits. While the initial investment for digital technology can be off-putting for businesses, spending money on digital transformation can lead to higher revenue in the long-term.
Investing money in new technology is effectively useless without a comprehensive implementation strategy. Studies have shown that 70% of digital transformations fail, costing your business time, money and reputation if you get it wrong. Whilst a digital transformation strategy will be unique to every business, there are some general points that form the basis of every strategy:
Why does your business need to transform? What does your business need to transform? How can your business transform? Before you even start planning your strategy, considering these three questions is vital.
Get your people on board
One of the biggest challenges you’re likely to face yet perhaps one of the most essential steps of your digital transformation is getting your employees, managers and directors on board. All too often, employees can be initially resistant to process changes and new technology as it often means more work for them. Engaging in a clear and meaningful dialogue with your staff can bolster support for change, as can explaining how they’ll benefit from the transformation.
A long-term approach is key
With digital transformation, there are very few quick wins to be had. While you can implement individual digital projects fairly quickly, true digital transformation requires sustained investment and long-term commitment. By accepting that this cannot be achieved overnight, your business can set realistic targets and expectations for your digital transformation.
As a provider of digital document solutions including electronic signatures, payment gateways and ID checker, E-Sign can support your business’s digital transformation strategy.
One of the biggest benefits of digitalising your document processes with E-Sign is the ability to go paperless. By utilising our document management platform and electronic signatures, you can eliminate inefficient and costly paper-based processes, sending and e-signing documents without the need to print or scan.
With our digital document platform, you have the ability to integrate additional processes in your document management, including payment processes, ID checker and additional security measures. By combining multiple processes into one, this integrated approach allows your business to benefit from greater efficiency and streamlined administration.
An Application Programming Interface, or API, is a software intermediary that allows multiple applications to communicate with each other for better integration and interoperability. With an API, you can easily connect your business processes, services, content, and data to channel partners, internal teams, and independent developers, helping your business benefit from the greater automation of your processes.
E-Sign is a leading provider of digital transaction management solutions, supplying professional services including Electronic Signatures, Web Forms, ID Checker, Verification Tools, Personalised Emails, API and Payment Processing to businesses of all sizes across the UK.
To find out more about our E-Sign solutions and how they could transform your business, get in touch with us today.