Over the past few decades, businesses and even entire industries have been radically transformed by the emergence of new digital technology. From marketing to payroll, client communication to business capabilities, a digital transformation strategy can revolutionize your business, cut costs, and improve efficiency.

With this article, we are going to explore exactly what you need to get started with your own transformation. Now that software development and digital capabilities are ubiquitous with today’s businesses, it’s more important than ever to make sure these assets are working for you, rather than against.

Our hope is that by the end of this you will not only have a better understanding of why you should digitally transform your business, but you will have the tools needed to make that a reality. Let’s get into it.

digital transformation strategy

What is a digital transformation strategy?

Before we dive deep into what it looks like to begin a digital transformation strategy for your business, let’s first get on the same page about what exactly we are talking about. While there are plenty of different ideas about what goes into this process, CIO sums it up succinctly with their definition below:

Digital Transformation is the application of digital capabilities to processes, products, and assets to improve efficiency, enhance customer value, manage risk, and uncover new monetization opportunities.

Now, you might be thinking that you have already done something like this and you would likely be correct. However, a true digital transformation strategy is more than just automating a couple of processes, it is a top-to-bottom assessment of your business, how it could be improved, and steps need to complete it using available digital assets. Not only should this be on your to-do list, but it should be seen as a necessity for surviving in 2019.

Why it is necessary for organizations in 2019

As we mentioned earlier, organizations need to evolve in order to address the ever-changing business landscape. A digital transformation strategy is the best way to make this evolution possible and improve the various processes of your business. In 2019, your customers and clients expect a well-thought-out digital presence with an exceptional user experience. Unless you are providing this, you could be losing business.

This, ultimately, is why this is so important for your organization to get started today on optimizing your digital strategy. There are so many different channels available to you now that should be utilized for their full potential. This is why the first step you will take in the process is to analyze your current channels and digital assets to see what needs to be improved upon.

Preparing for transformation

With a better understanding of why your business needs a digital transformation, let’s get into the process of actually planning and implementing that strategy. Before you can jump right into actually making changes, there are a few key factors to consider in order to put the best possible foot forward.

Key factors to consider

Before any actual work can be done, there are certain key factors of digital transformation that you will need to consider. When you understand that 96% of companies see a digital transformation strategy as critical to their development, you can understand why careful planning is an important part of the process.

Next, we’ll review three main ideas or processes you should execute before launching your full-blown transformation. Without the proper foundation, much of your work can become useless before it ever reaches your customers. Keeping this in mind, let’s look at these key aspects to consider.

1. Goal of digital transformation

The very first thing you should do when preparing to digitally transform your businesses is the overall goal you hope to achieve with this process. For some, this will be to increase conversions, for others it will be to expand their current value offering. No matter what it is, you should spend time defining what success will look like for your digital transformation strategy.

What often happens when organizations begin their transformation without properly planning is that they end up spending a lot of money and then become frustrated when their results don’t line up with their expectations. In order to avoid this, set actionable, realistic goals early on and then spend time laying our exactly how those goals will be reached throughout your transformation.

2. Stakeholder involvement and investment

Next, after taking time to produce a goal for your digital transformation, the next aspect to consider is the involvement and investment of company stakeholders. As part of your business, stakeholders such as your employees, customers, and third-party vendors need to be included in revolutionizing your business. Unless they are committed to the process and invested in its success, you will never have a fully optimized strategy.

In order to forgo this and make sure everyone is on board, reach out to the various stakeholders of your business. Find out from them if there is anything they would like to see from this initiative or if there is anything they can contribute. Not only will this make sure everyone is on the same page, but you might be surprised by the ideas they come up with.

3. Benchmarking

Finally, before jumping in, the last thing to consider is where you are in relation to your competitors. Better known as ‘benchmarking,’ this will give you an accurate idea of digital assets that currently exist in the market and how you can match, if not surpass, those you intend to compete with.

Additionally, this is an important part of goal-setting, as you will be able to compare your business processes with where they were at the beginning of the transformation. By collecting ideas and then thinking through which of them will work for your business, you are setting yourself up for success by narrowing your focus. When it comes time to launch the final product, you’ll be happy you took time to complete this step.

How to transform your business

Alright, now that you have gone through the process of transformation planning, the time has come to actually implement your strategy and begin optimizing your business processes. While these steps are necessary to give yourself a solid foundation, after this point there isn’t much more you can do other than to get started.  

Steps to success

The following six steps are what we recommend for getting started with your digital transformation strategy. However, each of these is just the first step toward full optimization and will often require further exploration to fully fill out your strategy.

Before we get into, we wanted to utter a word of encouragement to not just do the bare minimum, but pursue each of these to their proper conclusion. With that said, let’s start with a given: customer research.

1. Customer research

When you first start your digital transformation, you define your goals based on your perception of your business. However, your customers will have different ideas about what they need from your organization and that needs to be considered. This is where customer research comes in, so if you haven’t already set up processes for collecting feedback, this would be the time to do so.

Through customer research, you should be able to take care of a couple of things. First, you can research existing customers and seek out new audience groups. Next, you can study your user’s experiences and collect necessary feedback from them. And finally, you can then study this data to find the best channels and approach for reaching your customers.

This step is absolutely necessary for creating the tailored experience your customers will expect from you, but it shouldn’t stop there. If these customer insights lead to follow-up research and questions, pursue those to their logical end. You won’t know what you could be missing until you take the time to find out.

2. Find the right development team

Next, after analyzing your customers and their feedback, you need to find the right development team to meet your goals. Now, if you have an in-house development team, that’s fantastic and you are already on your way. However, that would also mean that they should have already started on this and may not have the capabilities you need for a full transformation.

This is when you may want to consider outsourcing your software development or at the very least supplement your team with offshore developers. Not only will this allow you to build out your software faster, but once your project is done, you can simply maintain a skeleton crew for future maintenance and improvements.

3. Organize your team and project

Once you have a team, whether yours or an outsourced team, the time has come to organize your team and project for maximum efficiency. For this, we recommend adopting an Agile methodology. Hopefully if you are working with a good team of developers, they will already have a good system in place, but if not, it might be up to you.

From here, you will be able to establish a product backlog, which is basically a list of all the tasks your team will need to complete in order to digitally transform your business. We recommend breaking these up by order of importance, that way your team can tackle the most critical aspects of the build early on, giving the most QA testing time to these items.

web application development

4. Begin building

Now that you have organized your team and laid out the flow of the project, now is the time to begin actually building. As we mentioned earlier, this will look different for every business, but hopefully with a solid strategy in place, you won’t have a problem getting started on this. Although you have been waiting for this moment for a while by this point, don’t rush into it. Take each step in stride and focus on the task at hand.

For example, if you are working on creating a more efficient process for lead generation on your site, spend time testing each part of the flow to make sure that everything works and is up to your standards. While you will obviously have time to make fixes later on, it is always better to measure twice and cut once than try to work backwards after the project is complete.

5. Include quality assurance at every stage

While we have already gone over this, it is worth discussing again in further detail: test your software at every stage of the process. There are numerous ways to test digital asset out there and QA best practices to follow for optimal development, so there’s no excuse for letting bugs make their way to the final product. Just make sure your team understands the importance of this, otherwise things will fall to the wayside.

One simple best practice here is to rotate through your team for each testing cycle. Give each member of your team the opportunity to work with the software and offer their feedback. Then, once everyone has contributed, see what sticks and move forward. The more perspectives the better when it comes to highlighting errors in your software product.

6. Launch and future maintenance

Although a digital transformation strategy doesn’t function exactly like a software development project, there will be a time when you need to ‘launch’ your finished product into the real world and begin tracking feedback on how your users interact with it. Don’t be afraid of this, as this is what you have been working toward, but you will also need to keep your eye on the ball. This is where teams get lazy and things fall apart, something you want to avoid at all costs.

From here, the rest of your digital transformation will involve performing maintenance, assessing new opportunities, and optimizing business processes. As new technology comes into the zeitgeist, you will need to compare its functionality with your current infrastructure to weigh the cost of switching. If it makes sense, then it becomes time to start the process over again.

Continue looking for new opportunities

Now that you have completed your digital transformation strategy, you should be far better equipped to serve your customers and run your business. That being said, there will always be new opportunities to improve and perfect the way your organization operates and part of this process is this constant search.

We do not say this to discourage you, in fact, quite the opposite. You have proven that your business has what it takes to undergo a digital transformation and with each new iteration you will be able to see the fruits of your efforts. Hopefully, after a certain point, you will be able to integrate new technologies without even interrupting your normal workflow.

Final thoughts

As you reflect on what it takes to get started and then implement a digital transformation strategy, we hope that you will have faith in the process and your organizations ability to evolve. In 2019, businesses of all shapes, sizes, and industries can benefit from this process and we hope that we gave you the tools you need to do so successfully.

Still curious about where to get started and how to take on this challenge? Schedule a free consultation with our team to begin making those changes today. We’d love to help you out.