Digital transformation: 4 excuses to leave behind

The pandemic made a strong case for accelerating digital transformation. Are any of these debunked excuses holding up your progress?
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For business leaders who have ever struggled with whether or not to embrace digital transformation, the pandemic made that decision easier. Just as nobody predicted COVID-19, nobody anticipated the changes it would bring to organizations across all industries.

Organizations that were not prepared for the sudden pause in operations and subsequent challenges – including limited in-person contact, remote working, and paper-based processes digitally – struggled to survive. Meanwhile, digital organizations were able to adapt to the changing requirements with speed and agility.

The pandemic not only made enterprises realize the importance of planning for the unexpected, but it also made a strong case for accelerating digital transformation. It left no room for the excuses that some business leaders used to delay their technology investments.

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Here are four excuses that no organization should use to delay digital transformation:

Excuse 1: Digital transformation is just a buzzword; we don’t really need it

If you believe this, you are living in denial.

With heightened customer expectations and dynamically changing business requirements, digital transformation is no longer a choice for enterprises. Instead, it’s a matter of survival and is rapidly becoming a reality in the competitive business landscape.

If you don’t transform your business today, your competitors will overtake you. One inspiring example is Domino’s Pizza, which reinvented the brand by pursuing a multi-pronged digital transformation strategy. In a more recent case, the UK-based Capital One put into motion its digital transformation initiatives at a breakneck speed during the pandemic to avoid disruption of vital services.

Today’s customers are also rapidly embracing digital. They want quick results and expect organizations to be efficient and responsive. In addition, today’s employees demand the flexibility to work beyond the boundaries of the workplace. Meanwhile, evolving regulatory requirements mandate agility on the part of organizations. To address these requirements and cater to the evolving expectations of all the involved stakeholders – customers, workforce, and partners – speed is critical.

These new realities reflect the fact that not only is digital transformation happening at a pace never seen before, but it is here to stay: A global survey conducted by McKinsey in 2020 showed that companies have accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions by three to four years, with the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios accelerating by seven years. Home Depot, for example, is betting $11 billion that digital transformation will earn it an unassailable position in the market.

Even if you don’t have a foolproof blueprint in place, don’t delay your digital transformation plan. Involve your stakeholders, help them buy into the idea, and start strategizing your digital transformation roadmap incrementally.

[ Get answers to key digital transformation questions and lessons from top CIOs: Download our digital transformation cheat sheet. ]

Excuse 2: Digital transformation is just about customer experience

Customer experience lies at the heart of digital transformation, but that is only half of the story. The other half involves streamlined business processes.

Outdated, manual, and siloed processes not only slow your business, but they boost costs because it is more expensive to maintain broken, outdated processes. As we emerge from the pandemic, most businesses are realizing that their existing business processes are not sustainable in the new normal. With remote and hybrid work becoming standard, organizations have had to think on their feet to maintain business as usual, and digital transformation makes this possible.

COVID lockdowns made it urgent for enterprises to enable secure remote operations, which in turn made them realize the importance of migrating their operations to the cloud. There has been an exponential increase in the adoption of cloud technology post-pandemic. It has enabled businesses to operate in a remote environment without impacting the speed and quality of services.

If you haven’t already done so, start by identifying the “low-hanging fruit” – i.e., processes that are best for your initial automation roadmaps. Then start scaling up. Transitioning to the cloud gives you countless possibilities, from reducing IT infrastructure costs to achieving scalability per business needs.

If you haven’t already done so, start by identifying the "low-hanging fruit" – i.e., processes that are best for your initial automation roadmaps. Then start scaling up

Excuse 3: Customers prefer the old-fashioned human touch

2020 will go down in history as the year that challenged and changed everything. It broke old habits and made new habits that extend to how customers interact with businesses.

According to a survey by Jungle Scout, 43% of consumers say they would be fine if they never shopped in a physical store again, and nearly three-quarters of consumers (73%) believe the majority of consumer shopping will happen online in the future.

Convenience and price points started this trend, and the pandemic accelerated it. As lockdowns came into effect, organizations across industries had to act fast to transition to digital business – and a digital façade was not enough to enable a completely digital customer journey. Organizations completed years’ worth of digital transformation initiatives in months to avoid disrupting services to their customers.

The right balance of human touch and automation lies at the crux of successful digital transformation projects. To become a modern digital business, it’s paramount to map out your processes and marry them with the right technology.

Excuse 4: Digital transformation leads to job cuts

Digital transformation often causes employees to feel insecure about their jobs. But the reality is digitization and automation have created a pool of opportunities for new jobs. The nature of work has unequivocally shifted, but the number of open positions in the job market has grown in the digital age.

When digital transformation is done right, processes are faster, more accurate, and more efficient, freeing human workers for more strategic tasks that require emotional intelligence, reasoning, judgment, and person-to-person interaction with customers.

Educate your workforce on the necessity of digital transformation and demonstrate how it will empower them in their current jobs. Upskilling and re-skilling your employees is also an effective strategy to ensure your workforce helps to enable your digital transformation initiatives.

Craft a more resilient future

The pandemic has reiterated the relevance of this often-quoted phrase: “Change is the only constant.”

Today’s workforce is more resilient and better equipped than ever to face challenges. Thanks to rapid innovation and expedited digital transformation, organizations are not only surviving in the present, but they are primed and ready to scale their processes and respond with agility to any unprecedented circumstances in the long term.

The excuses have been busted. An effective digital transformation strategy is now imperative to stay relevant, competitive, and crisis-ready.

[ Culture change is the hardest part of digital transformation. Get the digital transformation eBook: Teaching an elephant to dance. ]

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Anurag Shah heads Newgen’s products & solutions division in the Americas, including the Caribbean, South, and Central American regions. He also leads GSI relations as well as the consulting and pre-sales in the Americas. He has been with Newgen for over 22 years.

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