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What is Digital Transformation?

16th September 2021
Reading Time
12 minutes

What is digital transformation?

You may have heard the term digital transformation, often abbreviated to DT or DX, in lots of different contexts. It refers to a broad range of activities and attitudes – so broad that it has been accused by some of being a buzzword! However, the reason for this breadth of meaning is that digital transformation is fundamental to the success of businesses in almost all industries and sectors. As we will see, digital transformation in the service industry may look different from digital transformation in agriculture or healthcare, for example. Therefore, understanding DX is already important for business leaders and will only become more crucial as this next Industrial Revolution gets underway.

Digital transformation, then. Sometimes the most fundamental concepts are the hardest to explain concisely. Salesforce defines DX as “the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements.” That’s a good start, but doesn’t necessarily get across the all-encompassing nature of DX.

At this point, perhaps it would be useful to explain what digital transformation is not. DX is distinct from digitisation, which is the process of converting analogue material to digital. An example of this would be a business moving from paper records to a digital database, while keeping roughly the same structure and principles of a physical filing system in place. DX is also different from digitalisation, which you can think of as the shift towards using computers and the Internet to perform previously analogue tasks, such as looking up those customer records. Put simply, digitising refers to converting material, and digitalising refers to converting processes.

However, digital transformation is more fundamental. It is inherently customer-focused and goal-oriented. Rather than seeking to replicate old analogue methods, DX asks, “What is our end goal, and how can digital technology solve it?” For example, your customers might say that your online portal is slow and inefficient. One solution to that might be to find some optimisation in the website itself, or physically upgrading your servers. But what if you took a step back from that? What if you found a way to integrate a Messenger chatbot for customer service enquiries which dealt with common questions quickly and effectively? Digital transformation takes an end goal, and asks how you might leverage technology to reach it.

Why does digital transformation matter?

You may be thinking that digital transformation is a nice-to-have, or perhaps that it sounds like a futuristic possibility. The reality, however, is that these practices are already here. Your direct competitors may be considering or have implemented aspects of DX already. Your customers will almost certainly have encountered it in other aspects of their lives, whether that’s working remotely due to Covid or ordering groceries online rather than buying from a physical supermarket. Businesses that do not prioritise DX risk getting left behind. Conversely, those who adopt this strategy earlier have longer to implement new technology before it becomes the standard, and therefore retain an edge over their competitors for longer.

How can digital transformation help my business?

Hopefully by now it’s clear that digital transformation centres the customer. Successful DX, it stands to reason, results in greater customer satisfaction and thus better retention – all good things for any business! For example, integrating contact channels that your customers already use, such as Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp, reduces friction in their experience and may leave them with a more positive view of your customer service.

However, the benefits of DX go far deeper than this. Technological integration means we have more data than ever about customers – GDPR permitting, of course – and business activity. It’s now possible to use that data to make more meaningful, well-evidenced decisions than ever before. Arguably, using data to drive decision making is the second pillar of digital transformation. All business decisions carry a certain amount of risk, but the more visibility you have of potential impacts can mitigate this. Modelling tools are becoming more advanced while also more accessible.

Digital transformation is not a magic bullet. It’s true that some organisations may throw the term around to add a more exciting veneer to relatively ordinary work. But make no mistake: DX does have the power to revolutionise how you do business. It’s about looking at what you would do with your business if anything was possible – because with the rate of technological advancement we’re currently seeing, it’s only a matter of time before those possibilities become realities.

How can GWS Media help my business’ digital transformation?

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably considering the importance of DX to your business, but perhaps are wondering where to start. The good news is that you don’t have to do everything at once. We can help with designing and developing an app or website, including e-commerce and members’ areas. Here are some examples of the ways we’ve helped clients use digital technology to change how they do things:

  • Helping a transcription agency move from laborious spreadsheet-based processes for job allocation to a system which integrate quality checks, invoicing, and payments automatically.
  • Integrating e-commerce websites with a backend warehouse stock management and order fulfilment system for a supplier of catering and cleaning products
  • Creating members’ areas for organisations such as BCVA and Mensa, allowing their members to connect and share content with each other like never before

If you’re already using our services, why not have a chat with us about other ways we can help? As well as design and development, we offer our expertise in digital marketing, including SEO, CRO, and advertising campaigns.

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