Digital technology has seeped into every area of business.
Whether it’s using cloud computing to boost collaboration while allowing employees to work from anywhere, using real-time customer insights to create personalised experiences that drive more conversions or using AI-backed cyber security to react to threats before they happen, the potential for ‘digital first businesses’ is huge.
And companies that don’t adopt new technologies through initiatives like digital transformation risk being left behind or vulnerable to ever-changing market conditions.
In this article, we will explore why digital transformation is essential for business success in the current landscape and how embracing it can lead to long-term growth and sustainability.
Evolving customer expectations
Modern customers are more digitally savvy than ever before.
They have access to everything they need at the tap of a button and are more demanding that their experiences be seamless and personalised to their preferences.
And this includes how they interact with businesses (and how businesses communicate with them).
Any friction between a company and a customer risks derailing the relationship and could send that customer into the arms of a competitor.
These demands on customer service extend beyond how quickly you communicate with a customer, but also what channel you communicate on.
Choice is the name of game
Voice calls, texts, instant messaging, chat bots and live chat all form part of the customer service mix today, and customers want the choice of which channel they choose, expecting the same high level of service regardless.
And more and more, customers are preferring to avoid talking to people to solve problems, and are becoming more willing to self-solve a problem.
67% of customers prefer to handle their own issues, rather than speaking with an agent, according to Zendesk.
This means creating information hubs for customers to dip into how and when they choose so they can do things how they choose.
Trying to direct them down the business’ preferred path isn’t going to work anymore.
Gaining a competitive advantage
The barrier to entry for new businesses has never been lower.
All you need is a product, a sales channel and the ability to process payments and you can use social media and the internet to sell to anyone in the world.
But this also means there’s more competition than ever before.
And with businesses selling roughly the same products or services, they need new ways to get a competitive advantage.
Improving the customer experience using digital technology is increasingly becoming where businesses take a stand.
By streamlining customer experiences and using platforms like contact centre as a service, businesses are banking that customers will value the higher level of customer service and use this when judging who to do business with.
Because digital business moves quickly, it means decisions are needed faster too.
But they need to be focused and guided by information, rather than made using gut feeling.
Data has become the new oil, and businesses of all kinds are doing everything they can to harvest, analyse and use data to make better, more accurate decisions, faster.
63% of businesses utilising data analytics say it improves efficiency and productivity, while 57% say it allows for faster, more efficient decision-making, according to MicroStrategy
In the world of business, data analytics can have various important uses.
For example, production companies can use data analytics to look at their operational output and compare that with similar information like employee productivity, machine downtime and other pieces of info to see what improvements could be made in numerous departments.
But when it comes to understanding customers and adapting to their expectations, data analytics holds a wealth of knowledge.
They can be used to examine how your customers interact with your website, for example.
Do they spend longer on certain pages than others? Do they add more of a specific item to their basket? Are they abandoning their baskets more than you would like? More importantly, can you see why? Is there a trend emerging?
Having this data will give you a deeper understanding of the types of products or services your customers are interested in. Better still, you could examine this data over some time and see how the desires of your customer base change in comparison to previous months and years.
This will allow you to make educated decisions about everything from your products to your prices heading into the future.
Agility and adaptability
Has the ability to adapt quickly to changing environments ever been more beneficial than in the last few years?
From a predominantly office based economy, overnight saw an enormous shift towards more flexible, remote based working that has continued, and is likely to continue long into the future.
Businesses need to be open to new technologies and adapt to changing ways of working, even if they’re totally foreign compared to how they’ve always done things.
It’s no coincidence that more digitally mature businesses were able to adapt quicker to the challenges of covid, or that 75% of global CEOs have accelerated digital transformation projects as a priority in the years since.
Some of the future challenges are already known, and are down to the end of legacy platforms that will force businesses to change again.
In 2025 in the UK, BT will be switching off the old copper wiring that’s sustained traditional phone lines for decades.
Meaning businesses and individuals still relying on this outdated technology will need to switch to a digital alternative if they want their communications to remain live.
That’s where cloud-based phone systems come in. They convert the voices received by your phone into a digital signal that can be shared across the internet.
Better still, these phone systems allow businesses to share vast amounts of important information, data and programmes under the same system, making internal company collaboration an easy task (we’ll get to that in a moment).
But because these cloud phone systems don’t rely on the old wiring and are hosted entirely via the internet, they will remain unaffected when the switch-off happens.
So if your business isn’t willing to adapt when it needs to, sometimes, it could literally mean the end for you.
By embracing digital transformation, businesses can stay ahead of the curve and solidify their position as technology moves onward and old technology is abandoned.
Enhanced employee productivity and collaboration
When employees struggle to collaborate and work together effectively, businesses fail to reach their potential.
This can often be boiled down to inefficient processes and reliance on legacy systems, with 90% of businesses being held back by outdated technology, according to Computer Weekly.
This kind of inefficiency can also result in significant losses for businesses, with profits way down on what they would have been had the employees been able to collaborate sufficiently.
That’s why tools presented through digital transformation can be a godsend. Tools like shared cloud systems.
Rather than relying on various programmes for voice, text, video and file sharing, bringing everything under one roof in a cloud phone system can seriously cut lost time and boost productivity.
Even better, modern project management tools make it easy for employees to be kept up to date on the status of projects, as well as specify what jobs need to be done by which individuals, by specific times.
This means everyone will be kept in the loop on what they need to do, so nobody unknowingly costs the company time and money.
On top of this, cloud phone systems make remote working easier than ever. As long as an employee has access to a device with an internet connection they’ll have access to their business system and can perform their job effectively from virtually anywhere.
Data privacy is a huge issue in today’s world, with fines well the millions thanks to GDPR breaches.
But as technology grows, so do the ways criminals attempt to breach systems everywhere.
39% of UK businesses suffered a cyberattack in 2022, according to GOV.UK.
If a business is still relying on outdated security software, or the software has not been updated recently, they run a huge risk of being attacked by cybercriminals.
These hackers can spot weaknesses in outdated security systems a mile away, which is why using only the latest protection is always the wisest move.
And with businesses now holding more personal customer data than ever, it’s never been more essential for businesses to stay alert.
Some modern intelligent firewalls and antivirus software don’t just rely on a single preset algorithm to protect their users.
They use machine learning to analyse immense amounts of network data. Then they search out and pinpoint an automated attack and neutralise it before it’s even had the chance to attempt a breach.
And with more customer data than ever before being stored in the cloud, as opposed to on-site servers, the need for robust digital security has never been more prevalent.
Digital transformations can help your business build an ironclad defence against cyberattacks and protect your customers’ data.
But think of it as protecting yourself, too, from the potential fallout of legal issues in the event of a successful attack.
Winning the battle for digital talent
Even though digital technology continues to rise in all areas of life, there’s still a drastic shortage of digital talent in business.
68% of digital leaders say a lack of digital skills in the workforce is harming their company, according to a study by Hash Squared.
It’s becoming harder and harder to find talent externally, due to fierce competition and less-than-ideal suitable applicant numbers.
That’s why many businesses are opting to train their current workforce on new digital technologies, as well as considering new candidates. This is a part of digital transformation.
This can be a solid solution for businesses looking to keep up with the competition and keep their existing workforce happy.
Many workers fear their jobs will be replaced due to advancements in technology.
But by giving them the chance to learn new skills, rather than replace them, businesses can show their workers they care about their careers and offer a welcoming, family-like work environment that puts people first.
Digital Transformation and the Future
Digital transformation has become a driving force for business success in recent years.
By embracing new technologies and integrating them into virtually every aspect of work, businesses everywhere are realising adopting new tech isn’t just a fad; It’s a way to keep the business, customers and employees all heading in a positive direction.
Companies that invest in digital transformation and keep an eye to the future are the ones who will reap the most rewards in 2023 and beyond in an ever-evolving digital world.