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What exactly is Digital Transformation?

“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” — John C. Maxwell.

Nothing is constant in human existence, except change. Those who most believe in change — drastic, unconnected ones, in fact — are probably subscribers to the theory of evolution.

Whether the theory of evolution in human existence is crap or fad holds little regard in this article. Instead, the focus is on a disruptive change transforming the way businesses operate and the way they serve their customers through technology.

In one single phrase, this change is referred to as:  “Digital Transformation.”

So, What Exactly Is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation, as defined by The Enterprisers Project, is “the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers.

The integration of tech into business started long ago and has been through several phases.

During the PC revolution, which started in the 1970s and is commonly referred to as digitization, typewriters and fax machines were replaced by PCs and Scanners.

From the 1990s through to the early 2010s, businesses adopted digital advertising to reach new customers, while transactions still took place in walk-in stores. Most businesses ditched the traditional mailing system for e-mails, interacted with customers on social media in real-time, adopted digital payment tools such as Paypal, etc.

As technology advances, human preferences and behaviors also change. With internet-enabled smartphones bearing data speeds that were unfathomable some years ago, consumers can now easily navigate online stores, place orders, and have them delivered to their homes. Instead of in-person visits, people now make video calls. And now, online conferences are actually a thing.

While the internet and mobile remain major catalysts driving this phase of digital transformation, they’re just two of many factors. 

Over the last decade, several companies and even entire industries have evolved and new ones have risen, and many of these firms have introduced new technologies that can improve performance and drive up profit margins. It’s only natural that businesses adopt these technologies to facilitate their growth in this disruptive era. That’s one factor — innovation.

Another factor fanning the digital transformation wildfire is competitive pressure. When there’s new technology in town, many businesses are intentionally reluctant to adopt it. But once they caught wind that a few of their competitors are using and profiting from these tools, they follow suit.

Which Areas Can Be Affected By Digital Transformation?

Not all areas of business processes can be digitalized or moved to the cloud; at least, not yet. But those areas that are currently heavily affected by digital transformation include:

1. Customer Support

customer support in digital transformation
Customer support can be augmented by using chat bots

Customer support or customer service is the department that’s responsible for attending to or “serving” customers before, during, and after they’ve made a purchase.

The customer support department helps customers with several of the issues they might have. They can either help solve their problems directly or forward their inquiries to the appropriate department in the organization.

Often, the customer support staff, or technical support for tech firms, find themselves providing answers to related or even the same questions, albeit from different customers.

Sometimes, several of these questions from customers can be answered in a single FAQ content. But nurturing leads and supporting customers through the purchase process go beyond answering the questions they might have; It involves making sure they get the best experience back-to-back.

Augmenting and automating certain areas of customer support ensures you’re always available when customers need to talk to a representative — something customers value very much. The most common model is the use of chatbots on enterprise websites, apps, and other cloud-based platforms.

Another model of improving the customer experience when they interact with a business is by deploying a digital adoption platform on the user interface. DAPs can help teach users to navigate and use web-based tools and platforms to their highest potential.

2. Marketing

digital transformation in marketing
Cloud-based tools have helped revolutionize marketing

One of the first departments to taste digital transformation is the Marketing department. 

Since the advent of the world wide web and social media, several aspects of marketing have shifted tremendously from the traditional methods of advertising to newer digital channels.

While TV ad campaigns still reign, magazine and newspaper ads are no longer what they used to be say 40 or 50 years ago. The main cause for this shift is the internet’s potential to reach more prospects than magazines and newspapers.

One of the numerous benefits of digital transformation in marketing is data reporting. Many search engines and even 3rd party firms provide analytics and keyword research tools that help marketers to research and view their ideal customer in a 3D fashion, rather than from a single perspective.

Armed with the data on their ideal customers, businesses can target and retarget their ads and tailor them to specific people in different parts of the world.

Advertising is not the only area of marketing that’s gone through digital transformation. Some 20 years ago, few businesses cared about producing and publishing content. Instead, they went to established magazines to run print ads. But today, most enterprises have their own website, and they blog as well. 

Also, Inbound marketing and content marketing are now often-heard words in marketing. They are, in fact, two of the most common terms carelessly touted in the digital marketing space.

3. Employee Onboarding

employee onboarding in digital transformation
Digital adoption platforms can help streamline the employee onboarding process

Employee onboarding is the process of orienting and integrating new employees into the culture and operations of an organization.

To help new employees get acclimated to their new positions, new responsibilities, and new tools faster, companies may deploy DAPs across their management tools that each employee may use them to their full potential minus quick calls to the IT department.

Employee onboarding isn’t restricted to onboarding new employees alone. It may also happen during new software implementation. In fact, a single software implementation may involve multiple departments.

For instance, switching from one customer relationship management tool to another will disrupt activities across three departments, namely: Marketing, Sales, and Customer service. Since every employee in these departments must be onboarded to the new platform, using a digital adoption platform will help them learn and navigate the new tool effectively.

4. Business Workflows

business workflow in digital transformation
With digital transformation, certain business processes can be streamlined and automated.

Since repetitive tasks are often boring and demotivating, it’s only normal that companies should automate getting them done.

Digital adoption platforms are perfect examples of digital automation tools. They help automate the employee onboarding process, thereby decreasing the human labor and time that would have gone into that.

Other parts of the business workflow that can be automated include inventory checks; content distribution and management; data entry; detecting fraud; accounting or financial functions; etc.

5. Workplace Location

workplace location in digital transformation
Cloud-based tools have allowed several businesses to embrace remote working.

Remote working and digital workplace are two ideas we’ve learned to normalize over the past few years. Without the internet (and digital transformation), there would have been nothing like remote work, remote working, or remote workers.

In recent years, businesses hire talent in and from any country of their choice, as long as the candidate packs the necessary skill set and is ready to adhere to the company’s operational rules.

Since companies now rely on several cloud based tools to handle important aspects of their workflows like marketing and customer relations, employees can simply log on to their company’s management platforms wherever they are, access relevant data, and do what’s required of them — all digitally.

These are just a few of the facets of business affected by digital transformation in recent years. The world is going through an extensive technological transformation and shifting to a digital economy, and it may well disrupt the human way of life as we know it.

Businesses that desire to have a place in the coming future must transform as technology evolves and human behaviors change. Else, they’ll lose their share of the market to their competitors and become obsolete.

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