The Big Shift
When you stop to think about the speed at which businesses are transforming digitally, it is truly mind-boggling. Many organizations were already in the midst of shifting their infrastructure to all things digital when COVID-19 hit. Now, not only are there new internal demands with the reconfigured workplace but also increased opportunities to connect digitally with the consumer.
“Digital transformation” is a broad term that often references 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.
In 2020, some companies have had to do more with less. Budgets have been cut, reshuffled, and/or scrutinized as the economic outlook changes almost monthly. For many, this acceleration has exposed some of the outdated and inflexible monolithic software that just can’t keep up. The consequences of those faulty implementations are finally coming home to roost.
The businesses that are succeeding in these uncertain times are those that recognize the changes around them and adapt. This has always been true in some respect, but now — more than ever — companies need to lean into change. The companies that are thriving are the ones that are evolving and adjusting, rather than waiting for things to go back to normal, which isn’t happening. No matter their current situation, the winners know it’s time to embrace a “new normal” moving forward.
By no means is it too late to pick up the pace. The new normal includes continued challenges and opportunities in the marketplace well into 2021. Now is the time to be making better-informed and faster decisions, focusing on health assessments, content logistics, and agile deployment strategies that will enable your organization to accelerate in a rapidly changing environment.
Ready to get started? Here are some recommendations to consider before buckling up your seatbelt:
- Make sure the board and executive team are aligned for this digital shift and acceleration. An enthusiastic, can-do mindset needs to be established, and if leadership is not fully onboard, you won’t get out of first gear.
- Decision-making and approval processes need to be streamlined. Procurement can be a momentum-killer, and while we aren’t suggesting the removal of protocols and governance, that process needs to be able to accelerate, too.
- Get your teams fired up! Yes, this will require hard work and long hours, but employees will be able to innovate at a pace that will transform the organization. That’s what they signed up for, right? Remind individual teammates how important their role and their work is. Point to how impactful this endeavor will be on the business for years to come.
- Start with the low-hanging fruit. Identify the technology projects and budgets you currently have. If there is already momentum with these initiatives, they will serve as quick wins that leadership wants to see. These “wins” also serve as a morale boost for your team to experience early on. Shorten timelines, consider alternative routes and take measured risks in getting these projects quality assured and out to market as soon as possible.
- If it’s broken, fix it. Start with identifying current areas that are broken processes (and promises), bad deployments and poorly written integrations. A quick health assessment can go a long way in getting everyone to the table and finding common ground on what needs to be fixed. This practice clears out the frustrations, distractions and excuses around why the team hasn’t been able to move quicker and kick certain business processes into high gear. Now that you have cleared all of those hurdles, you should be in a confident position to move forward and begin identifying new opportunities to digitally transform your business at today’s speed.
- Approach new projects with an “optimize-first” mentality. You don’t have to replace current software to accelerate new digital initiatives. Start by identifying core strengths in the existing software your company has. Create strategies that can optimize those capabilities (i.e. move to the cloud, upgrade to the latest code, etc.), while also building new services and integrations that leverage those core strengths. Not only will this practice create updated (and new) digital values for your customers, it will also save your business money and extend ROI.
- Shift into digital overdrive. What areas of your organization have leadership avoided making hard decisions for? Where could customer interactions be improved? Where is the business missing the opportunity, in these uncertain times, to create more value and stability? Finding the answers to these questions requires a holistic approach that factors in variables across your organization. Creating an effective digital strategy that aligns with overall corporate goals, creates new values, and grows revenue requires more comprehensive planning, via a strategic plan and roadmap. Be prepared to do the necessary work to get there.
“The companies that are thriving are the ones that are evolving and adjusting, rather than waiting for things to go back to normal, which isn’t happening.”
In order to stay competitive in today’s market, traditional strategic planning committees and processes need to be reevaluated to ensure that the overall business strategy remains nimble and pragmatic. Bureaucracy and red tape will need to be removed, so it’s important to have the right stakeholders and executive sponsors at the table.
There are many worthy options in marketing automation platforms, customer data platforms, machine learning, e-commerce systems and content management systems. Both mainstays and newcomers are worth researching and considering. Explore and experience as many as you can. Make sure these applications are a good fit and look beyond Gartner’s Magic Quadrants and the familiar brands. Most importantly, make sure these applications can be implemented and supported at the speed at which your organization is moving.
So, what are you waiting for?