Kickstarting my digital transformation journey

In recent years, digital transformation has become one of the most commonly used buzzwords in tech. Quite simply, it’s the process of deploying new technologies to improve internal operations, efficiencies and customer experiences. Done right, it has the power to rocket a business’ growth.  

A huge 89 per cent of enterprises are planning to adopt, or have already adopted, a digital-first strategy. This means that if you’re not clued up on what it entails, you may fall behind. 

Here are a few tips to get you started: 

Perfect your product or service

Before you even think about embarking on the digitalisation route, you need a great product or service. Social media, digital marketing and a good-looking website can support, but your product or service needs to shine. 

If you’re entering an already crowded marketplace, you need to be happy with your product or service and make sure that it’s significantly differentiated and better than those of your competitors in one key element or more. This will help you to begin attracting the attention of your target customers, stop their habitual buying from your competitors and encourage them to switch to your offer instead.  

Once your product or service is nailed, you can begin to assess what parts of your business can benefit from digital transformation and then make steps in that direction. 


Don’t rush 

Having an app is not the be all and end all of digital transformation. Neither is having a blockchain or coin/token, regardless of how many ‘evangelists’ you’ve listened to on social media. There’s a lot of hype about the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ but, to be perfectly honest, a sizeable majority of the businesses I’ve met are barely at the third industrial revolution. 

So, before you splash the cash on a big data analytics platform, you need to make sure that you have sound data collection, management processes and protocols in place. You also need to make sure that the frequency at which your most important machines break, or clients place orders, isn’t solely the knowledge of someone in your business who have never used Microsoft Excel properly in their life. 

Embrace servitisation  

We are well and truly in the midst of a ‘software-as-a-service’ bubble, but the concept of “servitisation” is absolutely here to stay in the long-run.

In short, servitisation means providing a product with an accompanying service. One of the most important considerations to make is how you will provide your offering to the people who want to consume it, and in turn, how you are willing to accept payment for what you have provided.

This will have implications for your business finances as well as your accounting and is something you want to think about before committing to any radical overhaul of the company. 

Maximise on resources

There are a few right ways to kickstart digital transformation and a lot of wrong ways. Get help. Projects like Activate – which is part-funded by ERDF – can link businesses to experts who can lay the groundwork required for a successful digital transformation, totally free of charge.

Experts at Activate can help clients understand the scope of their potential project and give them the confidence and funding to go out to private sector service suppliers to get work done.  

Company culture 

Getting the right tech is important, but real digital transformation starts with people management and instilling a culture of innovation.

You don’t necessarily have to overhaul the entire organisation and put your best staff in some kind of skunkworks-esque innovation group.

Instead, progressively changing your company’s culture into one that puts more focus on good internal communication, calculated risk-taking and collaboration could be a much easier process.

It’s important that directors and managers put effort and resource into these things so that they don’t just gather dust as policies or buzzwords which nobody ever puts into action. 

Ultimately, take the time to learn about digital transformation and what opportunities it can bring to the table. Consider what parts of your business need improving, and what parts of the businesses are already excelling. Digital transformation is a long-term process and you should be realistic about potential gains. 

Jonathon Clark is a business and technology manager at Activate, a part-funded ERDF business programme for the digital and creative sector.

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