The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated “digital transformation” from a catchphrase to a concept that promises very real benefits.
Just think about how brick-and-mortar closures and work-from-home expectations have affected the way your organization serves customers. Consumers change. Buying habits change. Technology changes. It’s up to businesses to adapt to meet customers where they are, move them forward and, while they’re at it, make employees’ lives easier.
Those who successfully transform to meet these evolving demands create more enduring and profitable relationships. Those who don’t ultimately lose customers to those who do. Now is the time to get on board with digital transformation.
What is digital transformation?
This willingness to think about how your company should evolve is at the heart of digital transformation for competitive advantage. That’s because transformation isn’t solely about technology. Instead, think about it as a way to better automate processes that enhance your ability to connect your customers and your employees.
On the contrary, not adopting a mature digital strategy not only leaves you behind but can also make you irrelevant. How so? In our new digital environment, entering (or scaling) a new competitive space is faster and easier than ever before.
Much better, then, to consider the competitive benefits as you plan (and justify) any digital transformation effort.
Here are five ways that embracing digital transformation can help your organization heighten its advantage against your competition:
1. Operate more smoothly and efficiently
Most business leaders have heard time and again that digitizing operations will save time and therefore increase profits. Taking the time to calculate those savings in competitive terms can help target your digital transformation investment.
Consider how you (and your competitors) might face challenges in terms of accuracy or delivery — and how digital solutions can address those challenges:
- Which errors or turn-time lags rack up the greatest costs? Can you automate those aspects of your business, resulting in a more error-free and responsive experience?
- If you create or develop products, what can you automate to speed availability or improve quality?
- Do you have manual or paper-based processes that can be replaced with digital ones? If so, how much time and supplies could you save? (Remember to include time to address human error, data translation or recovery and so on.)
- How can you integrate the access of multiple systems into one, or fewer systems, thereby speeding multiple processes?
2. Become an important part of your customer’s digital life
The nature of the interaction between your customer and your organization — in other words, how it feels to do business with you — in many ways defines your business. And digital interactions are now a normal, frictionless part of day-to-day life for all of us. Your customers stream music, hop in a ride share and send money to friends in seconds with peer-to-peer payment solutions.
If your competitors aren’t providing consumers with such a seamless workflow, you should. And if they are, how can you provide an even better one?
Consider a side-by-side comparison of the way you and your competitors empower consumers to obtain and interact with your products or services:
- In what ways are your customers experiencing lags, delays or friction that you can eliminate via digital means?
- How can you integrate your offerings into their already existing lifestyle workflows?
- Are you providing fast, 24/7 access to services and accounts, answers to consumer questions, real-time conversations with customer service professionals, the ability to make payments and so on?
3. Go beyond space and place
Are there ways in which your competitors must transact business or provide a service with customers in a physical location that you can provide just as well — or better — digitally?
- Can you provide (or take advantage of savings related to) hosted or cloud-based services as opposed to on-premises only?
- Can you provide virtual simulations or experiences that competitors offer only onsite?
- Can you provide remote tools for education, decision-making or product selection?
4. Do more with more data analytics
Every customer you — and your competitors— have is a data source. Every purchase or engagement is a way for you to adapt, offer new choices or innovate to make life easier. The transactional data you gain in return is a business asset that you can — and should — leverage to competitive advantage.
With smart data analytics, you can build robust portraits of your various customer types, yielding veritable treasure troves of insights to help you create new products, select the best times to introduce your customers to existing but unused products, and implement workflows to speed desired solutions.
5. Win by failing faster — and more often
Every business demands a certain percentage of resource investment towards developing new products, new services and new ways of solving customer problems. Historically, the biggest challenges with innovation included customer knowledge and speed. Developing new products and services is often a slow race with your competition, and the first to market used to always have the edge.
However, investing in a strategic, systematic digital transformation of key aspects of your business can enable agility. The ability to research, conceptualize, prototype, launch and monitor the progress of a new offering, virtually, in real time, means you can put solutions in front of customers at scale while making improvements on the fly.
Are you ready?
This is just a sampling of the powerful effects a smart digital strategy can have on your business — and against your competition. But enjoying these benefits requires a certain mindset. Explore your resources for transforming digitally.
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