Digital transformation refers to the physical and cultural shift across a business to digital processes. It often affects every aspect of a company, from internal processes like tracking employee timesheets to any number of primary business functions.
In this article, the importance and benefits of digital transformation are discussed, along with highlighting several examples of businesses that have successfully made this change.
Why is digital transformation so important?
Digital technologies were entering the workplace long before the Covid-19 pandemic but—as businesses across the world are now starting to recover—many have sped up their implementation of these technologies.
A major driver for this is the adoption of full or partial remote working by a large number of businesses due to government requirements or guidelines to provide a safe working environment for staff. This means that streamlined, digital-first capabilities are now a prerequisite for the continued success of these organizations.
A good example of this transformation is the move toward cloud-based systems. This means that employees can simply and easily access their work from home, not just from the office. The days of struggling to access a secure remote network by using encrypted keys and so on are on the way out.
Other major drivers for digital transformation are the continuous search for greater efficiencies—and therefore profits—and trying to gain a competitive edge in the market.
With digital transformation now being more important than ever, what are the benefits of moving toward this technology?
10 benefits of digital transformation
The benefits cover a range of business imperatives, such as:
By bringing in automation, the time-consuming processes that disproportionately impact the bottom line are eliminated, and errors are also minimized. This leads to greater efficiency within the business, ensuring that it remains competitive and sustainable in an evolving marketplace.
Through digital transformation, business processes become transparen,t and data that is accessible allows emerging trends to be identified. This data also helps a business to proactively pursue opportunities that support its overarching strategy.
Digital transformation reduces costs in several ways—for example, 1) it enables businesses to operate with greater agility by eliminating out-of-date systems that require significant maintenance, and 2) by reducing labor and real estate costs.
By minimizing costs, there is more potential for increased revenue. Also, funds can be redirected toward the areas that are operating most efficiently.
Improved customer experience
The importance of a great customer experience cannot be overemphasized. Digital transformation helps this by creating intuitive, user-friendly experiences.
Implementing digital processes engages employees and creates a positive work culture. Employees can now focus on more stimulating and enjoyable tasks, rather than routine and mundane ones. This brings benefits in terms of increased staff retention and attractiveness of the company for potential new recruits.
Digital solutions help businesses to be more agile in response to emerging trends and customer needs. This is a vital quality for any business that wants long-term success.
Strengthened supply chain management
Automating processes can improve supply chain efficiency by enhancing visibility and reducing human error. Also, information can be extracted much faster through integrated data systems.
Digital solutions will streamline and standardize operations to improve the execution of business processes.
Significant competitive advantage
The time savings and greater efficiencies resulting from a digital transformation mean that more effort can be spent on maximizing growth opportunities and improving business strategies.
Digital transformation success stories
In 2012, Audi introduced an innovative showroom concept called “Audi City.” It allows users to view the company’s models in cyberspace micro-showrooms in city centers, where traditional showrooms containing many physical cars could not exist.
It is also a place where discussion forums and exhibitions take place, which further improves positioning of the Audi brand.
In stores, advanced car configuration is possible using interactive screens. Tablets can be used to do this as well as to look inside the car, observe its movement, and hear the sound of the engine.
As a result of the development of Audi City, sales increased by 60% compared to traditional showrooms.
The American shipping and supply chain management company UPS used digital tools to synchronize its operations and logistics strategy to better meet customer demand.
Two of the major customer-experience challenges the company faced related to fast delivery and real-time package tracking. These were tackled through the effective use of big data analytics and AI (artificial intelligence).
In 2017 Home Depot decided to adopt a more expansive digital transformation strategy. Its goal was to enhance the online shopping experience and to provide customers with the highest quality products and best resources through a seamless process across all channels.
The company hired 1,000 professionals who specialize in IT and improving the customer experience. It has now built up its back-end and distribution channels and created a robust IT department that gathers and makes more effective use of customer data.
Over the past two years, the company’s revenue has grown by over $17 billion.
By incorporating technology into all elements of the driving experience, Tesla has positioned itself as a “change agent” within the automotive industry.
In addition to cutting out many middlemen by handling a large part of its component parts manufacturing and the finished product distribution, the company’s success can be attributed to two technology-driven choices: the extensive use of digital technology in the way cars are built and in the way they are driven.
This strategy has allowed Tesla to control the customer’s purchase experience and to benefit from cost savings and from gaining a major edge over its competitors.
Today, Tesla’s market capitalization is around $830 billion, and it holds an 18% market share of global electric vehicle sales.
Digital transformation for a sustainable future
Achieving a digital transformation is not always a quick or simple process. As with any major structural change, there are several potential roadblocks that might be encountered along the way.
This is why it is important to ask the right questions at the planning stage about the aims and objectives of the process and whether a business is set up correctly to allow these targets to be met. For example, does the business have employees already in place who possess the skills that are required for a digital transformation?
Nowadays, technology is an essential component of every business, and it is increasingly relied on at all levels of the enterprise. With sufficient planning and commitment, the many benefits of a digital transformation can soon be realized, as demonstrated by many companies across the globe. This will ensure that a business remains competitive and sustainable in an ever-changing world.
For more information on digital transformation, download the free eBook “The Ultimate Business Guide to Digital Transformation.”