5 essential digital transformation ideas
The pandemic made digital transformation (dx) more essential than ever. However, the sudden requirement manifested in multiple ways. Many organisations needed to upgrade their networks, security and workers' hardware so they could work remotely and were forced to undergo (what had often amounted to) years' worth of digital transformation in a matter of days. Meanwhile, industries that had traditionally shunned technology - like construction - suddenly had to digitise everything and overhaul well-worn, low-tech processes in order to meet sudden, new, operational, health & hygiene, reporting and compliance standards. The good news is that in all scenarios, digitisation has provided the opportunity to liberate the information, teams and data that was traditionally trapped in silos and, in turn, provide enormous potential for efficiency and productivity gains.
What is digital transformation?
Digital transformation, also known as dx, is the process of modernising traditional business with the latest, computer-based workflows and infrastructure. The primary benefits involve improving efficiency, boosting productivity and cutting costs. Digital transformation ideas include using a CRM for customer management and Unified Communications for workforce management.
With that in mind, lets examine some digital transformation ideas that will let you take your dx journey to the next level.
Essential digital transformation ideas
1. Get a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system
All too often, companies have their customers' and leads' details stored in multiple locations. Plus, they don't get updated at the same time and are not secure. A typical manifestation of this is when organisations rely on spreadsheets to manage important customers. These might be emailed around to all and sunder and independently adjusted by multiple stakeholders. They're often years out of date, are saved in multiple versions (locally and across networks), get printed out to become untraceable and departing employees can simply take them to their next job. In addition to the obvious issues, this lackadaisacal attitude towards privacy and data security represents compliance failure which can lead to legal action. Consequently, moving to a CRM is the first of our digital transformation ideas.
A CRM system stores all of your customer, contact and lead information in one location. Access to specific contacts can be provided only to those who need it and you can lock down the ability to export the entire database and smaller segments of it. A CRM can also track who visits individual pages on your website and link them to contacts by tracking email behaviour. The resulting, transformative ability to see who's most interested in your product (but doesn't quite end up buying it) can be addressed by digital features like built-in lead-scoring systems which alert you if an individual keeps returning to a particular page or opens emails about particular products. It's a great intelligence idea for your sales team!
Many CRM systems also link to existing platforms (like third-party email, webinar and survey providers) and automatically synchronise all contact details across them. This is essential for the automating the otherwise-never-ending-manual-task of de-duplicating of contact information and ensuring that details are always up-to-date.
Some CRMs also have baked-in (or bolted-on) marketing automation systems, including if-this-then-that automated email and chatbot functionality. They can also do things like monitor ads and social activity plus automatically assign telemarketers and sales teams leads based on user behaviour, like shopping cart abandonment. It's our number one digital transformation idea for a reason.
Examples of CRM systems include SharpSpring (SMB), Zoho (SMB), Hubspot (SMB) and Salesforce (Enterprise). For complex, enterprise installations, utilising a specialist, third-party provider can also be a good digital transformation idea. Techforce is an example of a company that deals with Salesforce Customisation Services and offers, among other things, to assist with implementation, integration and devops relating to the CRM.
2. Embrace the latest Unified Communications and video technologies
While the days of having multiple copper-wire phone lines in a building are mercifully over, Covid has demonstrated that voice-based conference calls don't cut it anymore: video is the new voice. On top of this, video conferencing quickly evolved to a point where only good quality video calls are deemed acceptable nowadays and meeting equity is now a prime consideration. This is the digital transformation idea whereby all participants in a meeting, whether in an office, at home or in a remote location have a similar experience and get presented on equal terms.
Laptop users typically have good audio and a useable camera nowadays and they sit right-up close to them both. However, if several people are in a boardroom, it's not uncommon for those furthest away (to the back or to the side) to appear smaller or distorted via an ultra-wide lens. They are also often harder to hear due to poor microphone arrangements. Fortunately, there are many AV technologies - like PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) cameras, that automatically zoom in to speakers, available on the market. If you're not techie enough yourself, it's a good digital transformation idea to seek out local unified communications providers who can deliver bespoke set-ups for your location's particular requirements.
3. Achieve digital transformation with e-forms & e-signatures
Few companies are still using faxes, but too many are still relying on handwritten signatures on pieces of paper. Nowadays, a common manifestation of this workflow is for a form to be printed out when someone is near a printer; the document is then signed; a (poor quality) photo is then taken using a phone's camera and it finally gets emailed back. It represents a terrible user experience on every level with all manner of potential delays and bottlenecks. A good digital transformation idea is to go fully electronic and require e-signatures to electronic documents.
In this way, a link to a digital form is emailed to a client, they can scroll down to the sign box and either type or draw their name, submit the form and have a copy emailed straight back to the sender and themselves. The digital transformation benefits are many: increased security, improved productivity, better stakeholder experiences, much faster turnaround, better storage and retrieval of important documents and contracts plus the ability to send and receive forms from anywhere with internet connectivity.
4. Embrace the cloud, hybrid cloud and colocation
Another core digital transformation idea to move your IT services into the cloud or - if you really need to host your own hardware - offsite. Buying, maintaining, securing and updating your own server usually requires hefty, repeated, periodic investments. However if you can offload some IT services - including, email, office software and conferencing technologies - there will be noticeable efficiencies. These include constant security and spam protection, superior up-time, automated patching and updates. Plus, CapEx moves to more-manageable OpEx which spreads payments throughout the year.
Of course, many organisations need to host their own hardware for (usually) compliance and legacy-compatibility reasons, but even then, it no longer needs to be on-site. This is a great digital transformation idea as 'on-premises' hardware is, in many ways, a nightmare to host: it gets hot (which de-stabilises your building's expensive climate controls; it's noisy (and so can annoy your workers or require soundproofing); it needs an on-site technician to maintain it; it needs constant network and software security attention; it requires a specialist, dedicated power supply (in addition to a UPS); plus, it needs physical security to stop thieves walking away with it. Dedicated server rooms with secure doors and cooling (with limited staff access) are potential solutions but these are very expensive to set up and maintain.
If this sounds like your organisation, it's a good idea is to utilise an 'off-prem' provider. These companies will host your hardware at their third-party data centre and provide a super-fast connection from it to your organisation's office.
In many instances, off-prem hosts also host major public and private clouds and/or dedicated super-fast connections to them, which can improve cloud-access performance for your uses. The combination of public, private cloud with your own off-prem LAN (all in one virtual ecosystem) can be regarded as a hybrid cloud and represents a great idea for digital transformation for your organisation.
5. Digital Transformation idea: Password Security
It's remarkable just how many organisations will write (or print) peoples' passwords down on paper and give it to them when they start work. These are often accompanied with shared passwords for shared products and services. Other organisations will insist on using passwords that are so elaborate that workers will instantly give up trying to remember them and write them down on a post-it note, stuck to their monitor for all to see. It's hard to explain to IT departments, who really should know better, why this is a terrible idea, especially when it's now so easy to utilise both free and premium password managers that make using complex, individual (and shared) passwords a manageable simple process.
On the one hand, digital transformation in this area can be handled by a free web browser such as Chrome. This has the added benefits of enabling users to open two different browser windows with two different profiles - one for work and their personal one. It's simple to switch between the two and passwords can be kept separate. It's a worthy digital transformation update idea for many organsiations but it can't mitigate all manner of issues caused when a user leaves, goes rogue, or is personally targeted and compromised by bad actors.
As such professionally-managed, premium password managers are a good bet. The user just needs to learn one complex, unique password to unlock their password manager for a day (or whatever specific time an organisation requires). Once unlocked, they will only have access to passwords that their IT manager gives access to and they won't necessarily be able to see them. As such, if multiple, transient staff require access to a powerful application, their access can be shut down and removed remotely as soon as necessary. You won't have to go re-setting, chasing or changing important application profiles - and generally performing a security audit - every time somebody leaves.
Read More: Are these digital transformation ideas still sounding too hard? Why not outsource them all. Check out these Top 5 Managed It Services benefits.
More ideas for Digital Transformation partners
Lexicon Digital is a software development consultancy with offices in Sydney and Melbourne. It focuses on digital transformation consulting and agile software delivery.
Seers Digital is a digital transformation specialist and includes the use of low-code app development plus AI and Machine learning technologies. It has offices in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.