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Does your company need a digital transformation? 5 tips to find out

Business development
Digital transformation
by Don Lowe CEO
| 7 min read

Simplifying life is human nature. A few decades ago we had to go to the market to buy our groceries. These days you can find all the necessary shops and buy what you need on your smartphone; which also functions as a camera, telephone, radio and television, music and book library, and a lot more. This is a time when businesses can’t afford to be difficult to access or out-dated. Even if you may believe that you have no need for digital transformation – I challenge you to have a second look at your business. This article may shed some light on whether you do, or do not, need to go through a digital transformation.

Digital is more cost-effective than paper

Digital transformation is a bridge between the past and future, the transition from paper to digital will pave the way for a brighter future. Digital transformation can be used in every area, even in situations that seem removed from normal office life. Let’s take monitoring elephants in Africa as an example to illustrate this. In the old days, you would have people physically following the elephants and making notes. Nowadays, technology has saved on man-hours and distances being travelled thanks to the use of tracking collars that have a digital signal. All businesses will face similar situations; a process of making manual work easier. Is your business still running after elephants?

The definition of digital transformation regularly changes, but its main goal is to change the way of working and thinking in business. E-commerce is a classic example of this. Shopping used to involve you having to physically go to a shop and pay cash. Nowadays you can sit at home, go to your computer or smartphone, select what you want to buy, place the order, and pay for it without touching a single piece of paper.

In Forbytes we help a lot of businesses to modernise their systems. A very good example is working with Stenströms, a well-known Swedish brand that has been crafting high-quality shirts since 1899. In addition to their off the shelf high-quality shirts, they also allow customers to have their own made-to-measure customised shirts made to order. Their network of retailers and shopkeepers take the customers measurements and style preferences. These are jotted on paper before being faxed to the Stenströms’ manufacturing department. The process involves a considerable amount of manual checking and correcting, resulting in unnecessary time being wasted by staff and delays to the end customer.

We are now creating a new program for the company which will simplify their processes; thus reducing inconvenience and being able to correct any mistakes quickly with just a few clicks of a button.

By transforming the process from a paper-based to a digital solution with the relevant checks and balances, Stenströms changes the way they work with and manage the needs of their exclusive clientele. Measurements and style combinations are collected and validated in the shop then sent to their highly skilled team of tailors, who will convert a wish, into a stylish comfortable shirt. No more incorrectly filled in paper forms to deal with, and a lot fewer trees that need to be cut down. All this with a simple transformation from paper to digital.

Digital transformation as an essential part of future businesses

So what can be digitalised in your business? The short answer is any repetitive work. Anything that you need to do more than once is a candidate for digital transformation. Just think of where in your company you have information flows and consider whether you are effectively collecting, storing, and analysing this information. According to the 2018 State of Digital Business Transformation research, 89% of organizations have adopted or have plans to adopt a digital-first strategy.

Readiness for digital transformation by industry:

Impressive figures, aren’t they? They can partly be explained by the fact that digital transformation enables humans to think more attentively about their work. Technologies let people focus on completing interesting tasks instead of doing repetitive work all the time. It also helps keep your workforce more efficient in doing their day-to-day work.

Identify the need for a digital transformation

At the end of the day, you only need to go through a digital transformation if you want to make sure that your company is more sustainable and more efficient. You have five basic categories to look at.

1. Financial

How will a digital transformation improve your businesses finances? How will you be able to manage your financial planning and control? Take this simple example that many people are already doing: do you do your budget on paper or do you use an application like Excel? I would definitely choose Excel. It is simple but digital. I can share budgets with anyone in the world. And that is just with Excel. Imagine, what more advanced solutions can do for you as and when needed.

2. Core services

Will a digital transformation improve efficiency, quality or output from your core services?

3. Customer and supplier satisfaction

All sustainable businesses need to have good relationships with both customers and suppliers. How will digital solutions enable you to ensure that demand for your services remains strong? Do your customers and suppliers prefer to work with you or one of the competition, what can you do to make sure you are the first choice? Is your organisation ready for the future? With change being the only constant, are you able to meet future information management needs?

4. Staff

Would your employees prefer to work for a company that promotes repetitive boring work, or for a company where they have tools and technologies to make their lives easier?

5. Analysis

Digitising your information helps you to easily access it. Information flows are easier to understand when you can format the data to suit your needs and be updated quickly. Our information flows are digital which means that any corporate changes with either ourselves or our clients will be updated in my records within half an hour.

If you still have doubts

As I’ve mentioned above, simplifying life is human nature. We have an innate ability to think of ways to improve how we live on a day-to-day basis. I am confident that any new idea that is ready to disrupt the market will benefit from taking a digital approach.

We use digital transformations to develop our businesses and to make sure businesses are sustainable and safe. While it may be a contentious opinion for some – mine is that any business looking to survive in the long run will need to digitise. Not digitising runs the risk of going into bankruptcy or losing customers, suppliers and employees to their competition.

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