MGT Accounting

Adapt or Die: How to Develop a Digital Transformation Strategy

“At least 40% of all businesses will die in the next 10 years… if they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies.” John Chambers, former CEO of Cisco Systems)

Around the boardroom tables of the world, one thing is on every agenda – digital transformation. From global conglomerates to SMEs, leadership is keenly aware that in a digital world, those who do not adapt will quickly become irrelevant. In fact, a recent study revealed that 55% of businesses believe they have less than a year to digitalise before they start to suffer financially and lose market share. Businesses must adapt to stay ahead of the game.

By integrating advanced technologies across all aspects of the enterprise, businesses are able to significantly improve a business’s efficiency by automating manual processes, reducing errors and improving productivity. This allows them to not only keep up with the competition, but also to enjoy greater efficiency, productivity and customer satisfaction. This process of implementing these modernising technology advancements is referred to as a digital transformation.

However, the process of digital transformation is not one a company should enter into lightly as it’s not simply about implementing the latest technology and tools. The goal of digital transformation isn’t just to eliminate manual processes, but to augment your operations, streamlining workflows and improving the customer experience. This must all be considered within the context of your budgets, timelines and overall business goals, while managing organisational risks. As a result, it’s imperative to develop a digital transformation strategy which takes into account all of these aspects and potential pitfalls of an overhaul of this nature.

Get buy in from the highest levels

A digital transformation is a necessary change, but it can’t work without buy in and leadership from the top down. This is something the company needs to do together, and some tough choices are coming. With a likely high price tag and disruptions on the cards, the company is about to go through a challenging time; making sure everyone at the top understands this is a powerful first step.

Analyse your current system

Before embarking on your digital transformation, you will need to know exactly what needs to change. To do this you will need to do a complete, top to bottom analysis of your current technology and systems in order to:

  • Review business processes and highlight inefficiencies
  • Identify technology gaps or areas where your existing systems fall short
  • Define functional capabilities needed to effectively support or improve your processes.
Develop your company mindset

Digital transformations are not as much about technology as they are about change. A thorough digital transformation will likely change the way everything is done in your company and will therefore require a culture of agility, communication and open mindedness.

Leaders will need to take ownership of the transformation and prepare all involved well ahead of any actual proposed developments. Employees, clients and other stakeholders will all need to understand the transformation strategy and how it will affect them. Training sessions will need to be organised and feedback sessions should be incorporated into the strategy at each step to see if the changes are working as proposed. This is an exciting time that will hopefully end up with your employees working on fewer mundane tasks and clients getting better service. Make sure they know that this is what the effort is about.

Budgeting and finances

With so much exciting new technology around it’s easy to get carried away with what you decide to implement. It is important that whatever projects go ahead are done to the benefit of the business and that they do not put pressure on cash flow and savings for other projects. Speaking to your accountant should help you determine which areas are most critical for advancement, and which will have the biggest impact on company operations. They will also be able to assist you in developing a roll out plan, so you can be sure to get all you need within a reasonable timeframe.

Analyse the necessary technologies

It’s one thing to read about these new technologies online and quite another to truly understand how they might impact your workplace. Proper research and expertise need to be included when deciding which elements of cloud computing, edge computing, AI, Data Analytics and Digital Experience will make a difference for your business. Would better reporting help you to make decisions? Do you have a large remote force that needs better organisation? Do you have a factory floor that could do with less wastage? Your business’s needs will determine where you have to invest.

Work with good partners

Your digital transformation is not the time you want to cut corners with your technology partners. When choosing which solutions to use, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions around whether the technology is scalable and easily adaptable for future needs. Does your partner share the same vision as your organisation? Do they understand your industry? Do they provide support for upgrades and downtimes, and what does that support look like? Will you be down for a day or a month? Does the technology work with your current systems, or will you need to retrain everyone? How future-proof is your partner?

Education and training

Critically, you need time and budget to educate and train your staff on your new systems. It’s futile implementing new technology if no one can use it. This needs to be built into your timeline. As an added benefit, investing in employee training has been shown to increase employee satisfaction, business efficiency and consistency so don’t be afraid to give your employees the skills they need to operate in a modern workplace.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

© CA(SA)DotNews