When it comes to digital transformation, preparation is everything. If your business is not actively preparing for new digital technologies and changes to working practices, processes and systems, there’s a high chance you’re going to get left behind. In the modern business environment, where change occurs at a rapid pace, companies can quickly find themselves at a disadvantage if steps aren’t taken to lay the groundwork for new technologies.
We’re not as prepared as we should be
One of the key ways we can tell if businesses are well prepared for the digital future is by measuring the number of organisations that have a dedicated digital transformation team in place. Worryingly, less than 45% of companies have established a digital transformation team to guide them through the process. If this is an accurate indication of the degree to which most businesses are prepared, there is considerable cause for concern.
Different departments at different stages
When we examine how companies are approaching the digital transformation process, it soon becomes apparent that there are both differences between organisations, and variations within businesses’ own internal structures.
For instance, IT, Marketing, and Customer Service departments are typically way ahead of most other departments. While these departments should be recognised for their willingness to adopt new technology, it’s also necessary to note that the overall effect their changes have on the business will be limited by the fact that other departments within the business are lagging behind.
In order for modern, digital tech to operate at full capacity, it needs to connect disparate parts of an organisation on an equal footing. In modern business theory, ideas such as DevOps and Omnichannel communication are increasingly popular and powerful. Underlining both of these philosophies is the idea that internal silos need to be broken down. If there are technological inequalities and imbalanced hierarchies within a company, this simply isn’t possible.
There are distinctions to be made between start-ups and traditional enterprises
Another big difference in the levels of preparation can be found between start-ups and more established, traditional enterprises. Around 95% of start-ups have a digital transformation plan in place, compared to 87% of traditional enterprises.
For some, this won’t come as a surprise. Larger businesses that have operated for 50 years or more are often perceived as entrenched, cumbersome, and unwilling to adapt to new market realities or technological developments. On the other hand, start-ups are the innovative, young disruptors who come in, shake everything up, and gamble on the next big thing. Some will go on to become bigger businesses and others will quickly fall by the wayside.
What may come as a surprise, though, is the possible long-term consequence of larger organisations not staying technologically relevant. If the traditional “superpowers” of the business world fall behind and fail to meet customer expectations, gaps in the market will open and smaller, tech-savvy businesses will have a fantastic opportunity to exploit the lack of adequate service provision.
Those who have made the most rapid progress towards transforming their business are more likely to share information with rivals. In a recent Accenture study, 97% of companies questioned argued that open innovation was an essential feature of a successful business.
What’s clear is that many businesses’ digital transformation efforts are being hampered by a lack of collaboration and information sharing. Companies working together to form solid, technologically-orientated partnerships generate greater rewards for both parties.
There are still cultural obstacles to overcome
As well as there being a long way to go in the business community, there’s also much to be done to win over consumers. A number of recent scandals, such as the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook issue, have dented consumer confidence in businesses’ ability to handle sensitive data in a safe, sensible, and ethical manner.
In the UK, consumers are less willing to hand over personal data and are warier of AI technologies than many other Western European nations. If businesses are to truly embrace digital transformation, they’re going to have to win over the general public and overcome these cultural obstacles.
We’re not yet ready for big data and all it encompasses
The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in May 2018 was a big test of how well businesses are able to handle extensive changes to tech regulations, and how prepared they are for digital transformation in general. The result was concerning.
By June, only 21% of UK businesses reported that they believed they were GDPR compliant. This is despite the fact that those caught in breach of the regulations could be fined up 2% of the company’s global turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher. If UK businesses were truly prepared for the digital transformation, a much higher percentage of companies would have been equipped to handle GDPR compliance procedures.
Sometimes, we hide behind titles
In theory, there are quite a few people who should be responsible for overseeing technical change. However, many companies seem to hide behind titles – believing the appointment of someone to the position of Chief Technical Officer is all that’s necessary to prepare for a digital transformation. However, appointing a qualified individual and hiding behind behind titles is not enough to ensure a smooth transition. This should be a leadership position that’s assumed by someone who is qualified but also has a vision and the managerial abilities to realise that vision. 15% of all business involved in the Futurum Digital Transformation study reported that their CTO had only basic or no knowledge of digital technologies.
How is effective transformation going to occur when our leaders don’t understand the changes business technology is undergoing?
Though big steps have been taken to begin the digital transformation process and a growing number of businesses understand why it’s important, there’s still a long way to go. For the most part, progress is slow due to a lack of expertise. Companies simply don’t have the in-house know-how to manage and understand the process. That’s why specialists like Inform are necessary, to provide the experience and expertise required to transform businesses for the digital era.
Have a question or want further information on implementing digital transformation in your organisation? Our expert team have been providing customer contact solutions for over 25 years. Call us on 01344 595800 or drop us a line.