How to embark on Digital Transformation? Where should you begin? Does your company needs to transform digitally? These are questions that many business owners have today. Unlike digitization and digitalization, by definition, digital transformation involves a change in the way businesses are done. It seems therefore, it is something that requires innovation and creativity. Innovation is not something that if we sit and think long enough, a brilliant, game changing idea will fall into our mind. Sometimes, we can think for months and we cannot find a workable, innovative idea. So if you have no ideas, should you embark on any transformation?

Many companies are exploring digital transformation because they realise that this is the digital age and many new entrants into their industries have disrupt the way they do business. Companies fear that if they do not embark on digital transformation, they will not stay relevant and their business will not sustain in this digital age. If your competitors are leveraging digital transformation to improve their production, and enhance the customer experience, you had better not wait and see. So, if you want to embark on digital transformation, how should you begin?



First, understand the technologies enabling your industry

Digital transformation is about infusing technologies into your business. You need to start researching into the technologies that can empower your business to the next level. Technology providers focus on specific industries as they design, develop and market their products. Going to these technology providers is the first place to begin. However, it is not just about technology, it is about the customers you are serving, the customers benefiting from these technologies. The questions to ask are:

  1. How does this new technology bring value to my customers?
  2. How can my company creatively use this technology to solve the pain-points of the customers?

Second, recognise that a transformation strategy is a business transformation strategy

Yes, digital transformation is not just about technology. Hence, having the technology knowledge is insufficient and having the IT or CIO to lead your digital transformation may not be the right step to begin. Digital Transformation is business transformation. It focuses on the customers. It begins and ends with the customer. Hence, the person appointed to lead your company’s digital transformation has to be a business person with marketing knowledge and technical know-how. Besides the leader, when you form the team, you should form it with a mix of background and expertise–people from marketing, sales, R&D, customer service, operation, IT and even finance.


Third, prepare your company for a cultural change

For Digital Transformation to succeed, the fundamental fueling factor is not technology but the people. Not only do you need the right leader who is adept at change management, you need to have a culture where people are agile and willing to learn new technologies. You also need to encourage a culture that foster innovation.

How do you encourage innovation? Sometimes, the best idea does not come from the Head of R&D but from the delivery person on the job. Let me share with you how one of Singapore’s top organisation encourage innovation in the 90s. They have a means where any employees can write their idea on a paper and deposit into a box. An evaluation team will study each of these ideas and reward accordingly any good and practical ideas provided. There was also a tracking system that tracks the progress and status of the idea selected for implementation. If you provide a means to allow anyone to give their suggestions, you encourage innovation and build in your employees a deeper sense of belonging to the company.


Fourth, leverage on the power of connected communities

The internet enables connectivity. The mobile devices enables instantaneous communication. The social media platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin, enables companies to reach to targeted audience.
In fact, even before you eye on any new technologies like drones or 3D Printing, you should start steering your company to learn how to ride on cloud solutions and socia media to build followers and promote your products and services. This is fundamental to digital transformation.

Fifth, leverage on Data

If your company has been in operation for years and have had many clients, you will definitely have lots of data. For many companies, these data are never analysed. No one has the responsibility to dig out these data to get insights into the customers. You may be the CEO of a company but most of the time, you will only be looking just into the financial numbers. There are a lot of data that your company should tap on.

For example, if your company has a website, do you know that Google provides a free Analytic tools that is very powerful and provide a lot of information about your website visitors? If your company is not studying those data, then, now is the time to look into it and you may start to have innovative ways to do your business.

If you follow item 4 above to leverage on social media, those platforms come with a lot of free analytic tools that allow you to target specific customer segment, personalize and promote your products.

There are also a lot of digital tools that are free or at a low monthly subscription. Tools such as Hubspot CRM, Bitrix24 Office Collaboration tool, Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest are powerful business tools that empower you to gather a lot of business intelligence.

When your company  start leveraging on data, your people will start to have creative ideas on how to better use those data. You would have already embarked on digital transformation.