What does digital transformation mean to me?
Reza Honarmand, vice president, Cloud, Europe, at Tech Data explains how digital transformation is touching everyone at every level in business.
Digital transformation means different things to different people, but to me it’s about streamlining and improving the whole journey of an organisation. How they market themselves, how they engage with customers and suppliers. How they run their sales, procurement and operational cycles.
For channel companies, digital transformation is about how we can use technology to really make big leaps of improvement for customers.
Digital transformation affects everyone. I had an example just recently, which my daughter uncovered while looking for a case study for her GCSE on Business Studies. She had to do a report on a digital business and asked me for suggestions. I told her about some of the transformational businesses that I thought were interesting. But despite my efforts, she chose to focus on a local friend who runs a dog walking service.
The study turned out to be a fascinating example of how even a business this small is being transformed by digital technology. While the approach to marketing (a flyer in the local vets) and operations (booking taken over the phone) had been very simple in the past, use of social media had revolutionised the way the business markets itself and operates.
The most important thing to this business – as it is for most – is customer retention. To keep customers reassured, she had started posting videos of the happy pets being walked several times each day. Social media has helped her to spread the word about her services and bookings come in via that route as well.
As a result, business is booming and the competition has been left standing. As well as taking on additional help to cope with demand, the owner is now looking to set up an online booking system.
For this very small and modest local business, this will represent a complete digital transformation. They will have gone from advertising and managing operations using paper and phone calls to using viral social media, web advertising and automated booking.
This will allow them to focus on walking dogs, which is after all, the core activity of the business. That will lead to more happy owners, further growth and almost certainly, more digitisation. Billing and customer communications could be automated next. Beyond that there may be new innovations and dimensions of the business that could be explored.
It’s a simple but great example and shows exactly how digital transformation can and should work in practice. Once one part of the organisation is transformed, the benefits of transforming other parts are multiplied. As a result, the whole operation becomes much more focused, responsive and efficient.
Of course, when you are looking at a larger and more complex organisation, transformation takes careful thought and planning. But it is also unavoidable. It worked for the dog walker because people like the idea of being able to interact digitally – in this case to check how their dogs are getting on during the day. Increasingly, in the digital era, they expect to be able to do such things and will seek out services that enable them to use technology to make their lives easier and better. This is why digital transformation cannot and should not be delayed. Organisations that do not transform will get left behind, those that embrace it will advance and move onto another level.