10 Things Business Leaders Need to Know About Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is not just a phase or a buzzword. Business
leaders are realising the important role technology is set to play in their
growth strategies. A recent Gartner report states that the number of CEOs
ranking IT as a priority has risen from 19 per cent in 2016/17 to 31 per cent
in 2017/18. (1) As more people rely on connected devices, businesses must adapt
their products, services, and processes accordingly.

Society and technology are changing faster than most companies can
adapt. From enterprise resource planning (ERP) to cloud computing, new tools,
platforms, and channels are creating unprecedented opportunities to connect
with customers and improve processes. However, only the businesses agile enough
to transform and adapt to these new digital realities will be able to achieve
the competitive advantage promised by digital transformation.

The reality is that digital transformation will require some difficult
choices to be made to ensure organisations are not dragged along or left
behind. Transformation on this scale will fundamentally shift how businesses
operate, so organisations should consider the following 10 key tips to help
them navigate the journey.

1. Focus on the right level of
change

New digital technologies should deliver better, more streamlined
business operations that will drive competitiveness and growth. Business
leaders should focus on where digital transformation can deliver the most
benefits and add the most value.

2. Choose the right technology
for the business

Technological investment is crucial to growth; however, sometimes less
is more. Technology, used correctly and to its full potential, can radically
improve business operations by empowering employees, driving efficiencies, and
increasing agility. By contrast, deploying technology for no real reason can be
self-defeating. Being open to the transformative impact of new technologies is
one of the most important considerations for organisations.

The latest study from Epicor Software on worldwide growth trends found that
companies in high-growth markets demonstrated a strong inclination to invest in
technology to empower their workforces, drive efficiencies, and increase
agility. For example, around three quarters (74 per cent) of Chinese firms
cited IT investment as important, compared to a global figure of 54 per cent.
The study also found that 62 per cent of Australian respondents agree that IT
investment is a high priority for their business, higher than the global
average of 54 per cent. (2)

3. Consider where the company is
on its digital transformation journey

It can be challenging for business leaders to keep on top of the latest
technology trends and solutions being launched in the market. Different
solutions provide new ways for businesses to reduce costs, and improve the customer
experience and the business’ bottom line.

Many competing technologies profess to drive digital transformation.
However, the usefulness of solutions depends on which stage the organisation is
at in its transformation journey.

4. To ensure employee buy-in,
business leaders must drive the digital transformation process

There’s no single roadmap for digital transformation, and the path is
different for every business and industry. However, one common thread is that
business leaders must attempt to obtain employee buy-in from the beginning.
This requires a commitment to digital technology from the boardroom down to all
levels of staff. Organisations need leaders with the right mind-set and
motivation to lead the digital transformation process.

5. Understand and use data for
insights

Companies that undergo a true digital transformation process place data
and information at the centre of their technology-focused business models. Many
leaders are shocked to discover just how much information they had available
but were not using effectively. Integrated business data is the fuel for any
digital transformation journey, so unlocking its value is critical to success
in the current environment. The new data landscape provides business leaders
with unique opportunities to turn data into insights, with real-time updates
powering better decision-making.

Forrester research has found that more than 70 per cent of
decision-makers use initiatives to encourage more data-driven decisions. (3)
Unlocking the value of integrated business data is critical for success in
today’s marketplace.

6. Embrace change as part of a
wider growth strategy

Change is a constant in today’s marketplace. Business leaders must be
realistic about what can be achieved in a short period of time. When innovation
is driven by rising consumer expectations, growing companies should have
specific short-terms goals that embrace innovation and business change as part
of a wider transformation journey for growth.

7. Keep an eye on the
competition

It is crucial for business leaders to ensure digital potential is
translated into competitive advantage. This requires leaders to champion the
deployment of flexible, digital technologies that can change the way the
organisation engages with their customers.

Gartner states, “Technology shapes business strategy, but market,
political and financial factors prevail. (4) Embracing the correct digital
technology can bring employees together, let businesses expand into new
geographical locations with minimal resources, and make the product development
lifecycle more responsive to consumer demands than ever before.”

8. Encourage collaboration
across departments and divisions

New solutions must be aligned with a bigger mission, such as to evolve
internal processes, structure, and culture or to match the evolution in
customer behaviour. However, when new technology is introduced, a disconnect
can be created between employees and the challenges the organisation is
attempting to solve. Business leaders must consider how they communicate both
internally and externally, the strengths and weaknesses of employees as a
group, and whether employee skills are fit for purpose. Business leaders should
question whether they need staff with more advanced digital skills to assist in
the transformation journey.

9. Align with customer
expectations

The speed at which digital trends are impacting every part of business
operations will not slow down. It is the same playing field for all competitors
and every start-up attempting to steal market share. Customers expect
organisations to embrace digital transformation because they are doing so, and
businesses need to join them on the journey.

10. Walk the walk

To make digital transformation successful, high-growth companies don’t
just pay lip service to ideas surrounding new technology and innovation.
Rather, they back them up with investment. Recent research on worldwide growth
trends by Epicor found that in the coming year, 88 per cent of high-growth
companies are planning significant investments in technology and innovation,
while only 49 per cent of slow-growth companies are doing so. (5)

Digital transformation is different for every business. While some
organisations will have more challenges than others and some will embrace more
technologies than others, being aware of these 10 considerations will help
every business that is embarking or has already embarked on this journey.

Written by Greg O’Loan, regional vice president, ANZ,
Epicor Software

References:

1. Gartner, 2017 CEO Survey: CIOs Must Scale Up Digital Business (March
2017)

2. http://gettinggrowth.co.uk/

3. https://www.forrester.com/report/Insights+Services+Disrupt+The+Data+And+Analytics+Market/-/E-RES123402

4. Gartner, 2017 CEO Survey: CIOs Must Scale Up Digital Business (March
2017)

5. http://gettinggrowth.co.uk/

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