Digital products have changed users’ expectations and market values a lot.
Customers know, for a fact, how well some great products provide world-class functionality. Therefore, when a new product misses the mark, it is very much obvious to them.
One way to solve for that is to be on the edge of the innovation stream by bringing in digital transformation.
Can a product or an organization survive on the basis of traditional methods?
Do previous successes warrant future growth?
In a constantly evolving landscape, these things hardly matter anymore.
You need to be smart and you need to be armed with the right tools for that.
What is digital transformation?
Integrating digital technology into the heart of your business that changes how you operate and deliver value to customers, is digital transformation. That is to say, when you have adopted the right technologies and upgraded your offerings for the modern user, you have digitally transformed your business.
More than just a change in tools or technical know-how, the transformation takes place on a cultural level as well.
This means encouraging everyone to take calculated risks for new ideas and strategies, experimenting more, and keeping an open mind for new business practices.
This is highly important in today’s age where agile startups take over big organizations that refused to change their ways, thus losing their market share. Technology has enabled people to work and innovate in many different ways, and if you do not scale up to those standards, then you cannot stay in the game.
Customers come to you on their own
Digital transformation has reshaped the way companies deal and approach customers and provide services. Long gone are the days when a company would put flyers around town and ads on radio, waiting for customers to call them.
Social media has made all of that obsolete, giving advertising and marketing activities an immediacy. A popular post from your company’s account can land you new clients in mere days.
This speed of service extends to customer support as well. Users do not need to wait in queues or on phone calls to get assistance. A simple tag on a tweet, and most simple issues get addressed immediately.
Advertising itself seems to slowly getting deprioritized, as businesses realize that in this search-engine era, customers seek solutions for they need on their own, making branding and differentiation activities much more important than before.
Since everything is digital and available online, no more can you get away with a similar product offering. The marketspace is global and unless your product truly stands out, it is hard to stay afloat.
All of this points to another key aspect in digital transformation, which is, maintaining and optimizing one’s brand’s digital experience. People are not going to physical stores to buy stuff, so they do not get to see how you decorate your walls or what kind of plushy seats you offer.
Instead, what they observe is the mix of unique aesthetic choices with a smooth user interface that just melts into the background and helps the user get to what they came for.
Scaling up to all of these expectations of the market requires internal as well as external change.
Meaning, before you decide to shift your offerings to accommodate the digital landscape (like, building a smartphone experience), focus on improving work-processes as well — such as using DevOps and other agile methodologies along with traditional waterfall workflows.
Mere digitization is not digital transformation
When digital transformation is talked about, the focus is more on bringing change to age-old work practices than on ‘digital’. This means a complete cultural and mindset shift in the way technology is viewed and used as a tool.
Merely adopting collaboration tools such as Google Docs and Trello is digitization as long as they power the previous processes.
To digitally transform, workflows need to be enabled as well as optimized by technology, to the point where in-person meetings and brainstorming sessions become less frequent and more focused, as an example.
Merely listing the items that you sell physically on an online platform is digitization. While it could count as e-commerce, it definitely does not count as digital transformation.
Building something from the ground up, like revisioning your product offerings into a SaaS model to battle the digital climate — now that is a true transformation.
Various ways technology is transforming business
Increases operational efficiency
If you have been running an organization for long, then you are quite familiar with the time and difficulty associated with some of the work-processes, be it hiring, training, setting up meetings, or any of the manual maintenance tasks.
Wasting time on activities that can be automated is hardly acceptable. Instead, you can adopt cutting-edge technology to take over those tasks, maximizing the time available on your hands for much more crucial and business-oriented tasks.
With digital transformation, you can see the change quite quickly — information would pass between departments faster, bottlenecks would get resolved sooner, and collaboration would become much smarter.
Smart, also in the sense that tasks like having the minutes of a meeting, or working on a design project together get deeply integrated into the overall workflow, where any change can be made visible immediately.
Cost-efficiency also peaks, as previously disconnected systems that needed manual cooperation disappear.
All the time that goes into asking someone to email something over and over — considering they are from a different department and a bit unreachable — becomes a thing of the past, as stakeholders can share tools and documents across platforms to get work done.
This influences a lot of the company’s background engines as well.
The overall spirit of the organization gets shared by everyone between, making everyone work together on the same vision. Transparency and engagement increases, making employees trust each other, fostering further collaboration.
Promotes a growth mindset, leading to innovation
Digital transformation brings in the latest tools and technologies to the workforce. With those at their fingertips, employees become more than efficient: they also feel encouraged to try new things out.
For example, getting exposed to Machine-Learning-powered tools can interest an engineer into learning about it and possibly tweaking it to make it more effective or business-apt.
Employees could also start to decide and initiate activities on their own, as they try to find and solve new problems for themselves or the customer base.
All in all, integrating technology into the heart of the business and nudging everyone to be on their toes when it comes to trends, fosters innovation.
It also fosters resilience to unexpected disruptions in the market. Agility is the middle name of digital transformation, and an enabled workforce can quickly gather the pieces and start work on something new and competitive in a moment’s notice.
Digital transformation makes strategies and decisions smarter
When you digitally transform your business, you open up and reach out to a wider customer base than before. Expect increased user engagement and socialization as customers get to know you and try your product out before buying it.
The role of social media is known to all — without a presence there, you can hardly think of getting customers on to your platform.
There are positive side-effects to this: existing patterns of engagement on your social channels can be tracked and optimized, allowing you to target and get more audience.
The fun does not end there. As you continue to track user behavior, you might identify some of their other needs and build a new product to address those as well.
And, using your existing marketing spread, you can get the word out for this new offering.
Once this is established, it becomes a virtuous cycle of constant innovation.
Making customer-centric decisions becomes quite easier, but making long-term choices that could make you an industry-titan also become possible.
Consider Netflix. They had started off as a DVD-rental company, but paid attention to the rise of digital services. Finding that no one else had jumped to that opportunity, they did, making video streaming the profitable venture that it is now.
And, they continue to innovate: being the first-movers, they have tons of data on user engagement and preferences, allowing them to make and direct content in front of your eyes that they know for sure you would like.
Why does digital transformation matter?
More than mere technology, digital transformation is about enabling the business and the people that run it with the right tools.
Success, then, is just the result of effectively created data and insights that allows a business to change dynamically — i.e., according to the needs of the market.
This means that digital transformation helps businesses innovate and scale up quickly to deliver the digital products and services that customers value the most.
It also unlocks the actual value your business can provide to your customers. With its analytics-driven approach, digital transformation boosts agility and operational efficiency.
Companies that fail to evolve risk extinction. Digital transformation helps them get the new gears to compete and possibly win in this hyper-modern era.
How to begin digital transformation at your organization?
The simplest way to kickstart digital transformation is to look at what your peers and competitors have gone for. What does their digital strategy look like? How efficient are they? What kind of culture do they foster internally?
This, along with some deep market research about your customers, will inform you on the industry’s overall expectations from a business like yours, and what you’d need to do in order to fulfill those.
Plan how you move forward
Your insights will now shape your digital transformation strategy. Every organization needs its unique operational model that goes in line with the kind of products that they offer.
Make a list of all the internal operations as well as your external offerings and start comparing the right tools for your digital infrastructure.
Once that is done, you would need to break them down into actionable items. Typically, putting them down into a roadmap would be wise as it would give you a timeframe for all your activities. It would also help you prioritize tasks.
Making a note of all the digital transformation trends
Digital transformation has enhanced several organizations and their revenue streams over the course of last year. Companies have moved away from local storage and brick-and-mortar stores, to cloud computing and SaaS portals that make everything scalable for them.
Consider the kind of technology you would want your product to have. AI, Machine Learning, cloud infrastructure, user generated content platforms — these are all different digital strategies that can enable your product’s core and help it grow.
SaaS is by far the heaviest hitter out there. It has enabled companies to earn continuous revenue on a product that they typically would spend years on R&D but sell it for a one-time fee.
It has also opened up a wide range of other benefits as well.
What drives digital transformation?
Without the complete cooperation of the three topmost components — the business, its people, and the technology core — driving transformation can be hard.
From making the concepts of transformation a part of culture to creating and implementing solutions that employees can use every day, digital transformation touches every minute aspect of your business.
The right tools bring out the right results.
When you start up, it is perfectly understandable to rely on the various tools in the market to set up the initial processes and get the work going.
But, as you add more people and more complexity, the same tools are not going to enable you.
What you aspire to achieve via your business goals would be at odds at what those tools can offer you.
And, customization can only go so far.
You probably would never need to develop every single tool out there — word processing and database management are key applications that have been refined over the past two decades.
But the specific goals that you have in mind, related to your product or strategy, they do need unique enablement.
Your product will succeed only when you understand your customers well.
This is not news — one of the top reasons why tech products fail is because they lack the right insights to build a product that their users need.
What does this have to do with digital transformation?
Digital transformation forces you to implement analytics & tools and observe the customer interaction & activity on every stage of your product.
Empathizing with your customers is not optional — with the sheer number of choices that pop up everyday, it is the baseline standard.
Fail to meet that and you would end up with a product with no traffic.
SaaS, the key to current digital transformation
To say that SaaS dominates the digital transformation trend would be an understatement. Along other cloud-computing platforms, SaaS is predicted to grow to a market share of$299.4 billion.
How, you might think?
It all boils down to the massive advantages that SaaS provides to businesses.
Pay for as long as you use: Consider the one-time fee that products used to come with. Unless it is part of their daily workflow, a product gets used only when it is needed. If the fees were too high, then users would have to look out for alternatives.
With a SaaS model, not anymore.
The user pays for as long as they use the product. When they leave, they stop. Your product ends up making more profit because infrequent users choose yours every time, and the low fee becomes an attractive point to many.
Compatibility: With the right tech stack and infrastructure, it becomes possible to make a product cross-functional. Considering that more and more SaaS products are becoming web-based, the need to build for different platforms is diminishing as well.
All in all, a win-win situation. Customers get to use it on whatever device they have, and businesses do not need to worry about smaller use cases.
Personalization: Instead of confusing the customer with multiple products that do the same thing, you could sell just the one while making customizations available.
In a SaaS product, it becomes easier to not just personalize and add features on a client-to-client basis, but also easier to charge them for the extra offerings.
Predictability and Scalability: A SaaS product’s revenue is much easier to track, as there are not too many different pricing options. Once you choose a region-wise range, you can easily track your earnings on a per-user basis.
So, when you expand your operations to a different region, that is obviously taken care of. But, the overall influx of new customers would hardly overwhelm your product, as most of it would be cloud-based.
Digital Product Agencies and Digital Transformation
Choosing a path and framing the right strategies to digitally transform your business can be a difficult undertaking.
Instead of doing that all alone, you could opt for some experienced hands to put you on the right track.
What does that look like?
Digital Product Agencies specialize in digital trends and modern technologies. They can assess your product and organizational needs and suggest and build the necessary tools and infrastructure to enable your operations and offerings for the digital landscape.
Moving toward that goal has two parts:
- Transforming how you deliver value to your users: Your operating models are changed and fixed to make them more agile while keeping your vision in mind. This means bringing in the right strategies and tools to enhance your workflow and lead you to better product development.
- Transforming what you deliver: By shifting your product into a SaaS model, the range of your offering would expand drastically. You would be able to target more users relevant to your product as well as have an audience of potential clients.
A digital product agency would guide you through all of these aspects of digital transformation, and much more.
Digital transformation myths and realities
Digital transformation means using more technology and tools
More tools do not always translate to more efficiency or productivity.
In some cases, cutting down might even make the most sense.
It is about using the tools that give your employees the most empowerment and let them perform the tasks that enable your business goals.
It is also about removing analog hindrances that might slow down day to day processes, like logging in, collecting data, or even collaboration.
The lockdown due to COVID-19 has already shown us that we can accomplish a lot with what we already own.
It is time to shift the mindset and leverage their fullest potential.
Digital transformation is costly
If your enterprise is many decades old, then you would have to replace clunky infrastructure, and also spend time and money on re-training a few key people.
On the other hand, if your startup is just a few years old, then you would not have to redo a lot.
Ultimately, the main cost that would incur is the mental bandwidth.
Habits are hard to do away with, even when they are not good or efficient.
Retraining, realigning, and rethinking would take time and you just have to be patient.
Digital transformation would hamper existing people
If your workplace is filled with people with the growth mindset, then there is nothing that they would fear.
Or shy away from, because they clearly know that learning is a constant process.
However, most enterprises have people who put more value on following traditions than seeking actual results.
Making them adapt might be next to impossible.
How you pitch digital transformation in your organization, and how to convince your employees would tell you a lot about your business’ potential as well.
Digital transformation can wait
The longer you do not act upon this, the faster you lose new customers.
The further you lag behind your competitors.
Digital transformation helps you meet market demands and show your customers that you are reliable.
This increases the loyalty quotient, making existing customers more attached to your product, while also making your brand all the more attractive to new ones.
Businesses need to step up their game. The traditional models and methods have fallen out of favor, and sticking to age-old strategies do not bring customers or boost growth anymore.
It is time for you to understand how digital transformation can truly maximize the potential of your product.
The competency trap that startups and businesses fall into, thinking that their previous success will propel them forward, does not hold truth in the modern economy that favors and boosts innovative offerings.
Get on the path to build a greater name for yourself by applying the above strategies. If you’d like, then consider working with a digital product agency like Crayon’d.