With the ever-rising dependence of organizations on technology for performing daily tasks, especially through the internet and cloud, digital transformation is no longer a choice but a vital need. For a majority of organizations, the need of the hour is “to be digital or die”.
Digital transformation is a process that entails investment in technology, processes, people, and systems to transform how businesses function in the digital economy. It is, in fact, the transformation of the whole culture of the office where the process becomes more automated and digitalized and it affects every unit of an organizations.
Digital transformation, thus, is not at all an easy undertaking for organizations, whether big or small. There are a number of digital challenges facing businesses as they attempt to change the way they do business. This article identifies the top challenges facing them as well as how these issues can be resolved.
1. Finding the Right Leadership
One of the biggest challenges facing any business is finding effective leadership. Without a powerful leader – whether that be a department or an individual – businesses will struggle to complete even the most mundane of tasks. This is especially true when considering the digital transformation. Businesses attempting to embrace the new digital economy and the transformation that comes with it will quickly realize the importance of an experienced leader with good judgment and action-oriented values.
Above all, leaders must be able to adopt a digital mindset. They will need to adapt to the changing business landscape and embrace new operating and business models. This is absolutely vital for the growth of things like constant engagement with investors, employees, customers, and suppliers via cross channel connectivity. A business’s leader sets the tone for the transformation process, and can make things go very well, or very badly.
2. Enhancing Customer Experience
Today’s customer expects a lot from businesses. They demand a level of interaction and responsivity that was unheard of just a few decades ago. The idea of “business” vs. “work” hours is rapidly disappearing, for example, and customers expect to be able to receive help with their question or problem when it’s convenient for them. If the customer doesn’t have to leave their house and can arrange everything online, that’s even better. Service lines and long queues are things of the past where the digital generation is concerned.
Many businesses are ill-equipped to enhance the customer experience and provide the kind of service and attention that customers expect. This is because their values and business practices are far behind the times, and they’re finding it difficult to catch up.
If the digital transformation is not embraced – if businesses do not begin to adapt their mindset and adjust their business practices to align with the transformation – the gap between what customers want and what the business is prepared to give will only grow. In an economy as competitive as today’s, that could utterly devastate an organization.
In the past, there have been rather well-defined groups within an organization. These departments tended to interact within themselves and typically didn’t go out of their way to communicate with others beyond the bare minimum required for completing projects. The same can be said of the power hierarchy.
A few decades ago, it’s likely that few employees personally communicated with the head of their organization at all. There were very particular groups, in other words, and inter-communication throughout an organization, particularly a large one, wasn’t a priority.
Today, employees have access to a whole host of different tools when it comes to contacting their employers or their coworkers. While it’s certainly true that not every employee has had personal conversations with their CEO, it is equally true that the likelihood of such a conversation has increased exponentially with the dawn of the digital transformation.
As their access to coworkers and business information increases, the role of employees has changed in a fundamental way. Businesses that understand this and are willing to leverage it to their advantage will find much to appreciate in the new employee – but those who cling to more traditional values might find the experience frustrating and inefficient.
You can understand more on digital employee engagement by reading How a Truly Digital Workplace can Improve Engagement, Agility and Productivity of your Employees.
4. Handling Competition
It’s important to note here that the digital transformation is not restricted to a single country or generation. On the contrary, globalization seems to meld quite well with the demands of digital transformation. As this pairing continues and each process gains ground, businesses will soon find themselves with increased competition from all over the world.
No longer do customers located in North America, for example, only have the choice of purchasing from a seller also located in North America or, if the item in question is particularly popular, perhaps somewhere in Europe.
Consumers accustomed to the digital economy and the digital transformation as well as globalization processes can now purchase from almost anywhere in the world. With increasingly advanced shipping methods, a user in North America can place an order for an item in Asia and receive it within a few days (as long as they’re willing to pay for the privilege, of course). This means that brands are becoming increasingly drawn to the idea of becoming a “super brand”.
Super brands cover a large swath of the market by offering a variety of services and products that span from cell phones to sporting gear. As these brands gain strength and become more prevalent, “regular” businesses will find themselves at a bit of a loss when it comes to attracting and keeping the attention of their target audience.
5. Handling the Talent Confrontation
It only makes sense that, as the business landscape continues to change and shift into something new and unprecedented, there will emerge individuals will certain skills and experience that are suddenly very important. It is likely that there will not be enough of these individuals initially to meet demand, which means that businesses will find themselves at war with one another in the fight for talent acquisition.
This talent confrontation will not be easily one. It is quite likely that businesses will aggressively pursue the individuals they believe can help transform their company for the digital era, and that they will do so at both the talent and managerial level. It will become quite difficult to hang on to these employees until the supply increases to meet the demand – or until the demand shifts entirely.
6. Changing Company Culture
As has been discussed extensively throughout this paper, the digital transformation will affect businesses on all levels. This includes things like employee role and production, as well as inter-company communication and marketing strategy. Because the change must be so all-encompassing, it’s important that the company culture align with the new values dictated by the digital transformation and the digital economy.
Unfortunately, changing a company’s culture is not easy. In fact, it’s often cited as one of the biggest challenges currently facing today’s businesses. That shouldn’t be surprising – after all, company culture is deeply ingrained into every employee and helps a company feel united. The idea of changing that culture, then, becomes a daunting task full of new rules, new mission statements, new advertising campaigns and training methods, and much more.
It’s a big under taking, and not everyone is up for the task. It’s a vital one, however, and companies that don’t find a way to align their company culture with the digital transformation will have a harder time adapting to new business models and new ideas about the changing roles of employees, among other things.
7. Ensuring Availability of Resources
While briefly touched upon above, the topic of resources and availability is an important one and warrants its own section. As the digital transformation continues to change the way business is done, new areas of expertise needed to thrive in the new business landscape will emerge. These skills, and the technology that goes along with them, will quickly come into high demand as companies strive to adjust as rapidly and fully to the digital transformation and digital economy as they can.
While individuals can always learn new skills to help fill the rising demand, this takes time and money. Those who already possess the knowledge and know-how will most likely be pursued by all manner of businesses, and hiring one of them will prove to be a difficult task.
Likewise, as technology changes and continues to innovate the business landscape, businesses are likely to find themselves vying for the “latest and greatest” bit of technology available. Sometimes those resources will be more available than others – and sometimes, due to high demand, it might not be available at all.
The potential difficulty in securing the above resources, as well as many others, should give businesses pause. If they are unable to successfully adapt to the changing face of commerce, what does that say about their business outlook? It’s a worrisome thought, in other words, and one that demands careful attention and planning. If left unchecked, it is possible that these issues could significantly impact a business. There are, however, things can be done to help stay ahead of the curve.
How Businesses Can Overcome These Challenges
At first glance, it might seem like businesses are in a world of trouble with little hope of effective restructuring to meet the growing needs of the digital transformation. In reality, however, it is quite possible to embrace a new company culture and create the kind of customer and employee experience that will serve the business well long into the future. It requires a little forethought and creative thinking, sure, but that’s not so hard to generate.
When looking at the problem of customer experience, for example, it’s important to also keep in mind the issues of good leadership, company culture, and customer engagement. All of these issues are interrelated.
If a business has a great leader who attempts to roll out innovative and effective ideas about how to improve customer experience but also has employees who are not engaged and couldn’t care less about the company or its culture, then it’s likely that the customer experience will remain subpar. Likewise, if a company has poor leadership and culture, it doesn’t matter how skilled their employees are – their ability to ensure a great customer experience will be quite limited.
The point is that all of these issues can be fixed more or less at the same time. Businesses should embrace the new role of their employees, and use them as brand advocates who regularly interact with customers on social media as well as professional channels. This helps create engaged employees as well as customers who have access to the attention and service that they have come to expect of today’s businesses.
A great leader can help pull all of this together – and while it might take some time to locate the perfect candidate, they do exist. Businesses can make the search easier by clearly highlighting what their leader will need to do as well as what skills will be most important.
This will help them narrow down the applicants and close in on a leader who will fit their needs as well as their company. Additionally, a business with a good leader and engaged employees is likely to embrace a changing company culture much more readily than others.
This can further be smoothed over by allowing the leader to collaborate with coworkers in order to design a new set of values and mission statements to be distributed to company employees. Various training sessions and seminars can help more firmly entrench the idea of new values in the minds of everyone who works at the business.
Effective Business Models
There has been discussion throughout this paper regarding the necessity for reconfiguring business methods and approaches, but not much about what kind of approach would work best when it comes to adapting to the digital transformation. The best thing that today’s businesses can do is to change their business models to place a greater emphasis on digital technology trends as well as partner and customer collaboration and interaction.
This kind of model serves as a hybrid of sorts, branching the physical as well as the digital to help a business provide excellent, focused service to all of its customers. It’s also one that can be further adapted in the future, making it a great choice for businesses that intend on riding out the digital transformation and seeing it through to the end.
When it comes to the question of ensuring the availability of talent and technology, a bit of forethought is necessary. Businesses must consider where they believe the market is headed, and keep an eye out for individuals that possess the kinds of skills necessary to succeed.
They should anticipate the need for new and evolving job positions, and be selective in their hiring selection. This will help ensure that, at the very least, they are not behind the curve when it comes to talent acquisition. The same can be said for technology. Businesses must consider what innovations are likely to change their fields, and attempt to “future proof” their technology investments as much as possible.
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