Can you become a digital-first business in 6 months?

The short answer to this question: a partial yes, it’s possible. If that’s all that you were here for, go ahead and embark on your digital transformation journey.

After the events in 2020, more businesses than ever ramped up the use of technology in their day-to-day operations.

Becoming a digital-first business certainly isn’t happening overnight, but with the right tools and the right experts, it can be achieved in a timeframe as tight as six months from the start date.

Do I Need To Take My Business Digital?

So why is digital transformation necessary? Some people might think that this is a redundant question, but hey — I get it; you need to convince the board.

Case in point: the global leader in business analysis, Mckinsey and Co., has said that “If pre-2020 was hectic, the luxury of time has all but disappeared now”.

This report by the Mckinsey and Co. publishing house states that in a recent survey of theirs, 70% of high-ranking executives across Austria, Germany, and Switzerland planned to accelerate their digital transformations soon.

Similar trends can also be seen in businesses of all shapes and sizes across the world.

Benefits Of Moving To A Digital-First Business Model

In case you need to brush up, or if it’s your first time hearing the words “digital-first,” here are the main benefits of digitizing your business:

  1. Increases employee satisfaction.

Yet another study by the Mckinsey group found that properly implemented transformations can lead to a 10–20% increase in employee satisfaction.

Its common sense that satisfied employees are happy employees and that happy employees are productive employees.

2. Increases customer satisfaction.

The same Mckinsey and Co. report also noted that a combination of various types of transformations at the same time would have less of a sudden impact on your business while also boosting customer satisfaction by 20–30% overall.

3. Enhanced branding opportunities.

Making the move to a digital-first business will open up several new doors as far as branding is concerned: it opens up a whole new user base that you can mold into loyal customers.

4. Increased business range.

Digital-first business models equip your business to reach and develop more new customers, both in existing spheres of operation as well as in increasing the geographical boundaries of your business.

5. Improved access to data.

Everyone agrees that predictive analysis has become a pivotal point in the success of an enterprise.

Going with a digital-first approach gives you the opportunity to automate more data than ever before and even collect data that you wouldn’t usually be able to (how long is the average customer’s checkout, for instance).

Translation: we all know that good data is required for good analytics, and digitization enables businesses to collect higher-quality data than before.

Things To Remember When Making The Move To Digital

Here is a short checklist to keep in mind when initiating a digital transformation for your business:

  1. Not everything will go as planned.

Roll with the punches, and always consult with industry experts to avoid expensive blunders that you may make on your own.

2. These things take time.

You’re not going to wake up one morning to find a digitized business handed to you on a platter, but there are ways of expediting the process.

3. Digitization does not include eliminating traditional business models.

Sure, some elements of your business will become redundant if digitized but that doesn’t mean you need to axe your entire way of doing things.

4. You do not have to please everyone.

As with any other new process that you introduce, some solutions will have to be tweaked on the spur of the moment, and there are bound to be some who will not like the new way of doing things.

In the end, it’s for the benefit of your venture, so proper training for your team should work to eradicate any troubles your employees face under the new system.

5. ROI is not used as a measure of success in a digital transformation.

Obviously, your business’s return on investment is an essential factor in day-to-day transactions, but it isn’t used to gauge the efficiency of a digitization campaign.

The outcome of a digital transformation campaign can be seen through metrics such as lower “first quote” times to customers, lower checkout times, better workflows, etc.

If these and similar metrics are improving, then you know that your business’s digitization strategy is moving in the right direction.

Follow These Guidelines To A T, Or You’ll Regret It.

I’m sure that we’ve all heard of the 80–20 rule: 80% of results come from 20% of action.

Similarly, these four teeny-tiny steps can make all the difference as to whether your digital transformation will be a success or a flop.

  1. Secure an employee “buy-in” from the moment you start digitization.

Not everyone is going to be a fan of the digital-first approach — indeed, you may face some resistance when you first get the ball rolling.

IFS lists employee reluctance as being among the top reasons for hesitance in digital transformation.

Before actually implementing the digital-first model, bring your whole team on board with the idea.

You need to understand any concerns that your workforce may have and act on them accordingly.

A great way to gain their support is to ask for their opinions and feedback and also by asking if they would like any changes to be made to the proposal.

2. Communication is key.

You need to keep all your stakeholders in the loop about any of your upcoming significant changes — and yes, that includes your customers.

Reason: organizations whose senior executive team members communicate frequently and openly about upcoming processes are eight times more likely to undergo a successful digital transformation than companies that are bureaucratic about the process. Source: Mckinsey and Co.

The most effective way to do this would be to set up a weekly or bi-weekly “town hall” meeting for the entire team (virtual or in-person — your choice) to update them on any new developments and to issue progress reports.

3. Remember the customers.

A proper digital-first transformation will have clear benefits for both transacting customers as well as your internal teams.

Your digital transformation has failed if you have to pick between satisfying your customers and keeping your team together.

Avoid this by sending out surveys and questionnaires as to whether the customers like the new processes/ system or not.

Remember to incorporate and advertise any feedback you act upon from the customers.

4. Ask, “Can the business be replaced?”

The answer to this question will evolve with the latest technology available to you. This question must be addressed at every board meeting.

Once your digital transformation is complete, it doesn’t mean that your business no longer needs to change; instead, it makes it way easier to incorporate new changes to your business with minimal friction.

Companies that are too rigid in their approach are likely to fail, so keep on your toes in analyzing the markets and incorporate changes from time to time.

Unfortunately, digital transformations are tricky, with many people underestimating just how hard it is to execute a digital-first transformation properly.

In fact, a study by the Boston Consulting Group, released in late 2020, claims that out of all the companies that attempt to undergo a digital transformation, only 30% live up to the expectations and requirements with which they started out.

This number may make some business leaders uncomfortable and may even prompt them to reconsider their own move to a digital-first model. However, going digital-first in 2021 is no longer an additional extra for a business — it is a necessity.

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A digital evangelist, entrepreneur, mentor, digital tranformation expert. Two decades of providing digital solutions to brands around the world.

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Hitesh Dhawan

Hitesh Dhawan

A digital evangelist, entrepreneur, mentor, digital tranformation expert. Two decades of providing digital solutions to brands around the world.

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