Digital transformation – a term that often gets used without much thought or consideration to the true scale and effort required to truly digitise a legacy business, service, or product.

There are a few trends and areas of focus that any business should be aware of before starting on their digital transformation journey. Here are a few thoughts for consideration;

1. It’s going to be more difficult and probably take longer than you expect, and this is totally fine and normal

Digitally transforming a business requires a lot of scrutiny of existing processes and services, and during this process there should be no stones left unturned and no questions unanswered. You will always find new requirements and new challenges that will impact your desired timelines and scope. This is normal and can be managed effectively when it occurs through a process of constant internal communication, rescoping and planning where necessary.

2. Put your user at the heart of everything you plan to deliver  

The process of digital transformation should truly allow you to orientate your business around the people who ensure it exists your customers, your users, and your internal teams. Your CRM platforms and insight teams should give you the tools and understanding needed to allow you to get close to your users, and then create truly personalised, relevant, and enjoyable experiences for them.  

Digital transformation could be your first opportunity to make a huge positive shift in your user experience and engagement with your brand, so it’s vital to make sure this is right from the beginning. It’s also worth remembering that whilst digital transformation has a formal start, it will very rarely ever end. The digital world is constantly evolving and improving, and your business must do so too. Digital transformation really isn’t a one hit wonder and is something that’s constantly evolving and changing based on your user’s needs.

3. Don’t create products and struggle to cross your internal operational units 

This is a big one. A lot of businesses report a broken user experience or customer journey, and more often than not this is because operational business unit silos have bled through to the customer journey. For example, a user may have two logins for related services within the same brand, or they may have to wait a week for “another department” to finish off a support query.

Your goal should always be to deliver a seamless, coherent, and enjoyable experience across your product or services. Users don’t know or care about how your business works internally, so don’t make the mistake of forcing them to understand it whilst navigating your experience.

4. Don’t try and build everything yourself

Unless you’re the size of Amazon or Google, then there is no practical or real reason why you would want or need to build your own on-site cloud solutions. Off-site solutions will always, always allow you to create, test, and deploy at a scale and speed that matches your product growth and expansion.

There may be some internal stakeholders who truly want to completely own the end-to-end technology stack of your product or services, and this may ultimately be the end result. However, we believe you must avoid the temptation to try and take on too much development early on in the transformation process. Bringing development work in-house too soon will inject a huge amount of risk in your transformation programme. So find the right partners, tools, and processes that allow you to focus on your business, and let someone else worry about the technology.

5. Know where your expertise start and end, and when to bring in support  

For a lot of businesses, digital transformation in its very nature is a new concept and approach to doing business. More often than not the expertise required to successfully deliver digital transformation simply doesn’t exist in the business when plans are being created. Digital transformation requires a very specific skillset across Strategy, User Research, Design, Development, Project Management, DevOps, etc, etc. There are organisations and individuals out there that specialise in these skills who can, and will ensure your digital transformation is a resounding success.  

Whether your business has 30 or 3000 employees, it’s vital to remember that digital transformation isn’t a one-size-fits-all process, and there will always be challenges and nuances to the process that you may need support with.

So digital transformation – it’s difficult, it can be messy, and it can be massively challenging for any business. But get it right and you’ll have a business, value proposition, and experience that is truly in tune with your customer’s needs and expectations.

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