Many businesses underestimate the importance of digital transformation, presuming it to be little more than a slight technological enhancement of business operations. However, it's quite a bit more than this and experts suggest that in the future, digitisation of business will affect society at a level comparable to that of the addition of the steam engine or assembly line production.
Since the digital landscape expands every second, the way we do business, shop, gather information, entertain ourselves and life in general will more than likely look nothing like before.
However, digital transformation is not without its' own challenges. Below I have outlined a few challenges to be aware of, as you move through your own transformation.
Digital Transformation can be done in many different ways. You can carry out a limited transformation, introducing a few new technological solutions without touching all of your business processes.
For example, digital transformation across only your supply chain could require an investigation as to how digital applications can enhance your products and services, prices, agility, and stock management. The goal is to strategically and consistently implement processes and organisational changes that use digital technologies to enhance operational excellence.
One of the first challenges is to keep the balance between too little and too much. It could be easier to start with a few technologies. A comprehensive overhaul could possibly bring significant effects, but requires significant planning, investment and will most certainly interrupt short-term operations.
When we think about the difficulties of digital transformation, naturally issues of budgets and security are top of mind. However, there is a more important obstacle to consider: your employees.
Digital transformation by definition involves a significant rework of business operations, the introduction of new technology, and changes in central procedures. All of this requires skillsets your existing employees might not have.
Digital transformation needs to become adjacent to employee training and re-skilling programs, and be aware of employee resistance, because it will be there.
Digital transformation can be perceived as a costly. It takes a substantial upfront investment and can negatively affect the efficiency of your organisation in the immediate, to short term. Budgeting for digital transformation often means budgeting for the unknown, since there is no cookie cutter approach to suit every organisation.. However, careful preparation, cooperation with consultants, and low-cost third party SaaS technology can significantly reduce costs.
Although technologies commonly related to digital transformation (e.g., the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud technology, automation, machine learning, mobility, etc) undoubtedly offer you many benefits, they could result in a plethora of security risks too.
As there are many more entry points, business owners should understand that their users (both clients and staff) constitute the most significant security threat. They're people, and people tend to make mistakes and get duped by criminals. So, the goal is to educate your users about security practices to decrease your risks.
Employees might be inconvenienced by the digital transformation of your business and troubled by the concept, that they'll have to embrace new practices. However, in the long run, they have no choice but to accept the change. Regarding clients, the situation is different -- if they are inconvenienced by the new practices, they will simply leave and try to find a business that better matches their needs for a frictionless and more pleasant experience.
People are inclined to get set in their ways and do not take kindly to change.
Therefore, you need to ease them into new systems and clearly convey the benefits.
The important notion about digital transformation is that it isn't optional. On a large or small scale, you will need to go through it, which means it's sensible to prepare for these challenges today.