What is a digital transformation and how can your organization benefit from it?

Has your organization embarked on its Digital Transformation yet?

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You may have done it, you may be halfway through – or you might still be relying on traditional processes to run your business. Whatever stage of the journey you’re on, there’s no better time than now to embark on your own digital transformation journey if you want to reap the rewards down the line.

The digital economy is currently one of the few areas of growth in British business. With devices, data, and people becoming more connected, businesses are realizing the massive potential for productivity that digital transformation can enable.

What is digital transformation?

intranet in digital transformation
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Digital transformation refers to the process of an organization keeping up to speed with the latest technological changes. It can be a complex, daunting undertaking which involves multiple projects that have an impact on every aspect and section of your business, connecting each element to form an efficient digital operation.

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Digital transformation can also mean more than just changes to the technology being used. It can also call for a completely different way of working, encouraging different mindsets and a new approach to business.

In short, digital transformation requires you to change the way you adapt your operation to new technologies rather than just adopting them.

The benefits of digital transformation

Digital transformation is usually connected with large corporations. And while the process is fundamental to enterprise-level organizations, it’s equally important to small to medium businesses too. In fact, it’s easier to adapt for smaller companies – their size and simpler business processes mean transformational change is implemented more quickly and easily.

So, what are the benefits of digitization? Primarily, transforming improves efficiencies, but it can also have a considerable impact on the bottom line. The analyst house International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that there is the potential for over $18 trillion of new value to be harvested.

The same report also found that 66% of companies doing digital transformation expect to generate more revenue from their operation, while 48% predict that more business will arrive through digital channels. Other reasons for doing it were to empower employees with digital tools (cited by 40%) and to reduce costs (cited by 39%).

Gartner’s CIO Agenda suggests digital business will represent an average of 36% of a business’s overall revenue by 2020.

However, according to Dell EMC, right now only 5% of large businesses have the technologies in place to be considered a digital business. So, are we ready as a society for this seismic shift?

Digital transformation in action

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One of the biggest examples of digital transformations that are taking place is within the healthcare sector in the UK. In the States, privatized healthcare means that hospitals and practices adopted digital relatively early on. However, the public-funded NHS is in the early stages of playing catch up. When the UK government launched a digital agenda to transform the Service’s processes and systems to meet guidelines by 2020, they outlined the main aims of the transformation to improve outcomes, efficiency, and patient experience to:

  • Improve health
  • Transform the quality of care
  • Reduce the cost of health and care services
  • Give patients more control over their health and wellbeing
  • Empower carers
  • Reduces the administrative burden for health staff
  • Support the development of new medicines and treatments

Currently, there are gaps in processes and a general lack of integration among services in the NHS. In fact, according to the Government’s framework for the transformation, technological levels within the health system do not seem to have advanced since the 1990s: “The consumer experience of care services remains much as it was before the mobile phone and the internet became commonplace.” This has created a culture where outmoded processes in-house together are juxtaposed against the technologically fast-paced world outside. Foisting new systems on an already squeezed workforce within the NHS has previously been carried out with disastrous consequences. As the report finds that “…the arrival of the digital age has often been experienced not as a force for good but rather as an intrusive additional burden in an already pressured existence.”

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This highlights an issue in digital transformation: the introduction and integration of it. When an organization is so entrenched in one mode of working, introducing an entirely new method – which involves induction and training – can often result in digital transformation going wrong.

When you introduce technological changes in any industry, a strategy needs to be in place where integration is carried out with a dextrous but methodical approach. Action it too quickly, and you could be running before you can walk. Action it too slow, and you risk losing your edge.

Which is why part of the digital transformation plan within the NHS model is the importance of careful integration. As the biggest employer in the UK looking after the health of the population, there is huge scope for error. Mindful of this need for full and timely integration, Matt Hancock, the UK health secretary, recently announced that he would give a £487 million cash injection to help the NHS fully embrace the technology needed to carry out blanket digitization across the organization by 2020.

The intranet’s role in digital transformation

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So what are the tools you need to ride the wave of technological changes? The digital workplace has spawned many resources in which to facilitate transformation – and the intranet is starting to be used as the launchpad for all them.

Intranets already fulfill a lot of roles within a business – and therefore have helped many organizations on their road to digitization. Enabling communications, HR, collaboration, document management, workflow, admin, project management and analytics amongst other things, your intranet should be one of the first places you go to when you’re working out your digital transformation strategy.

Some of the many ways that an intranet supports digital transformation include:

Integration with other services: a modern intranet can act as a launchpad to other services which can help the user’s journey. Integrating with products like Office365 is one of the ways you boost productivity by turning your intranet into an intuitive and seamless digital workplace experience.

Evolution: A modern intranet is far from static. With employee engagement, forums, news, message boards and blogs, an intranet evolves naturally. Feedback and recommendations provide direction for updates and developments and, if necessary, new complementary products on the market can be integrated easily.

Analysis: An intranet can capture and log data from many sources, feeding from Google Analytics to social media software. These different types of data can help enable business decisions and help you understand the behaviors of your audience.

Search: Users can gain access to the files and information they need through well-designed content architecture and navigation – speeding up processes and boosting productivity.

Collaboration: Collaboration can be facilitated through the forums and private groups within an intranet improving the quality, speed, and productivity.

Do all companies need to transform?

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While the need to transform can be used as a drive to stay competitive, there is a difference between transformation and improvements and modernization. So, do all companies need to transform?

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No, not all. There are plenty of small businesses which can exist for the foreseeable future without the need to take on full digitization, but likewise, there are plenty more who could benefit and expand by embracing new technologies.

To find out whether it’s a necessity for you, it helps to look at your industry and see how digitized it is. Are there new competitors picking up the digital baton? Take your customers’ perspective – how digital are their needs? How successful and profitable are you in your current format?

While there’s no black and white answer to whether you should transform or not, there’s one thing for business leaders to decide whether your organization is or isn’t future-proof. If it is, keep on going and adapt it intermittently. If it’s not, you might need to revise the entire model to ensure its survival.