A human-led approach to digital transformation

August 11, 2022

A human-led approach to digital transformation

The point of digital transformation is not merely to become digital, but to add value to the customer experience by adapting and evolving how you deliver this value.

Transformation is a journey, rather than an abrupt switch and it should be ongoing. Being able to understand and design effective strategy for digital progression is more important than ever. The problem many organisations face is that managers at all levels lack the tools or time to think and plan strategically. As a result, a business becomes reactive and lets opportunity slip by. Phrases like “it doesn’t have to be perfect” and “just get it live” are great motivators to get out of the starting blocks. However, if you don’t have a roadmap to improve the processes, your customers will eventually feel the effects of your operational inefficiencies and go elsewhere.

Traditionally, large businesses go through transformation in order to:

  • Defend against disruption.
  • Drive new revenue streams.

Often you hear that these businesses have failed or overcapitalised, which causes anxiety and reluctance to try again or innovate at all. However, businesses that have chosen a human-centred approach to digital transformation have had considerable success. There are two parts to this approach:

  1. Consumer demand – more access with fewer limitations and barriers.
  2. Employee efficiency through process automation.

Understanding the definitions

  • Digitisation is basically making processes paperless; for example, bookkeeping.
  • Digitalisation is process automation of functions that happen repeatedly, often, and involve human intervention.
  • Digital transformation is intervening at each point of the customer experience in order to add value. It’s not the tool that you buy or the system that you build; it’s the mindset and strategic backbone of a thriving business.

Start with the humans

Talk to employees. Digital efficiency starts with process and tools that help your employees become more effective in their jobs. Identify what operational needs are not being met. Understand the frustrations and gaps as well as the opportunities.

Talk to customers. Understand their current journeys and ask:

  • How do we ensure our customers are able to achieve maximum value from the offering they’ve bought from us?
  • How can we capitalise on the value realised by our customers?
  • What can we enhance to be in line with a customer-centric digital transformation journey?

Then categorise the feedback and understand which metrics are impacted.

5 steps to designing a digital transformation roadmap

1. Define your strategy

What is the value you want to create for your customers? You’ll almost always need a dual strategy. You want to create new value and at the same time unlock value from your current operations by making them more efficient.  

Assess your resources. Carefully decide which projects to start. Consider if you have the right resources in terms of people, skills and budget.

Communicate the vision for transformation throughout the business and set accountability.Transformation needs to be big enough to be a focus for the whole business, as well as measurable. However, avoid spreading the transformation investment too thin; a little here and there won’t have sufficient impact throughout the business.

2. Start with the right team

Innovation and digital transformation is not the responsibility of the tech team. Instead, put in place a task team of individuals or groups within your organisation who are innovators. Empower them to be the transformation drivers within your business who influence the general mindset among employees.

Ask the question, “If we do X/buy X/ build X, what must happen in the business to make X successful?”

3. Define your goals and targets

Decide how much you want to invest in the transformation journey. Be realistic about the time needed to generate return on your investment. Ask yourself: What are my success metrics, how will I measure them, and how will I decide if those metrics are worth chasing?

Focus on quick returns, which will instill confidence in the rest of your teams.

4. Reimagine the customer journey

When businesses grow at a rapid pace, they often struggle to keep up with evolving customer expectations. Customer journeys are no longer linear – the only way you can influence their decision-making process during their research is if you’re present in the spaces they explore. Where do you facilitate discoverability and education, stimulate growth and reward loyalty? How do you maintain the thread of service excellence?

5. Be flexible about technology

You definitely don’t need to build all the systems yourself, but there’s also no rush to contract with large suppliers until you know what is right for your business.

3 things you need:

  1. Ability to abandon a plan when it doesn’t work.
  2. Confidence to do the right thing even when it costs money in the short term.
  3. To develop team skills/capabilities and empower leadership.

Choosing the right technology for your business

Both of these approaches allow you the flexibility to test what is right for your business needs:

  • Low-code is a visual approach to software development that optimises the whole development process to save development time.
  • No-code systems are plug-and-play software as a service (SaaS tools and systems) that allow you to get up and running faster, without much technical expertise.

Custom development may be required when you have complex operations processes or even future aspirations to which no one system can cater.

Swipe iX has a dedicated team to focus on design thinking and innovation teams that enable your business to deliver value to your customers and employees. Our technology team comprises experts in no/low code, full stack and mobile application design and development and can guide you through the right digital transformation process for your business. Get in touch today.

Jacques Fourie

Gaynor Johnson

Head of Innovation

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