Digital transformation: 3 guiding principles for 2023

Looking to do more with less in the coming months? Let these key transformation concepts guide your strategy
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Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve seen companies innovate at an unprecedented speed. Many of these advances have increased productivity while allowing teams to collaborate more seamlessly. Businesses that have been slow to make these shifts face a competitive disadvantage as they remain behind the tech curve.

The good news is it’s not too late to embrace this new era. Here are three things to keep in mind as you level up your transformation in 2023.

1. Digital transformation remains a priority

Many enterprises find themselves challenged by inflation and are seeking new ways to secure their future. Consider, for instance, the rise of hybrid work.

Despite the impending recession, companies are set to invest in digital transformation like never before. Global spending on it is expected to reach $2.8 trillion in 2025 – more than double the amount allocated in 2020.

[ Also read 5 ways leaders can maximize the value of digital transformation. ]

One company that’s doing it right is LEGO. The business sought to identify technologies that could improve engagement and collaboration. They’re consistently modernizing their approach, finding a way into the video game market, for example, and exploring 3D printing options alongside their traditional LEGO blocks.

No matter the product or service, it’s a lesson many IT leaders can learn: Keep pushing the envelope and offering users more innovative solutions. Investing in digital transformation allows you to explore an endless array of new opportunities.

2. Automation's silent revolution gets louder

Automation has been a “silent revolution,” with many companies increasing adoption slowly. Automation is front and center this year as businesses of all sizes look to cut costs while speeding up innovation.

For example, replacing spreadsheets with project management tools can be a game-changer for your business. Collecting and storing data shouldn’t be a time-consuming task. This is especially vital when your company begins scaling, and colleagues work across different time zones.

Automating workflows reduces headaches and boosts productivity by streamlining tedious tasks and improving overall operational efficiencies. Better still, it allows people to focus on more fulfilling tasks that deliver real value.

This year, automation is front and center as businesses of all sizes look to cut costs while speeding up innovation.

3. No-code/low-code's time to shine

As companies look for solutions to leverage a distributed workforce while maintaining a leaner budget, no-code/low-code technologies will increase in adoption. Companies are striving to get more out of their current tech stack, sparking significant market expansion. Expect to see exciting innovations born of this new market need.

What I love most about the no-code/low-code revolution is that it creates more access. Employees without coding skills can get their work done without needing support from IT or designers. Sales reps can create professional fliers without needing to learn complicated programs. They’re empowered to use their creativity and imagination without being limited by a lack of specific tech skills.

Another benefit is that company IT engineers are freed up to work on more critical projects without interruptions. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Connection comes first

The whole point of modernizing and digitally transforming our businesses is to ensure that we prioritize what matters most: our human connection.

I founded my company in 2006, and since then, we’ve grown from a small, dedicated team to hundreds of employees spread across the globe. Having a more seamless way to work together enables us to arrive at a shared understanding without technological barriers.

Automation and no-code/low-code digital tools provide endless ways to collaborate more effectively, but we should be intentional about how we use these. While remote work can present numerous challenges, it also offers opportunities to learn more from one another.

But it takes concerted effort. To facilitate discussions between our in-person and remote employees, we use automation tools regularly to receive feedback on what is and isn’t working, which guides our decision-making. It’s also easier to build transparency and trust by communicating expectations better.

The bottom line: Digital tools will make everyone’s lives easier and accelerate your organization’s growth. But remember that ease of use should never trump genuine engagement and connection with your people. What will ultimately move your business forward is an energized and dedicated team working towards a singular mission.

[ Learn the non-negotiable skills, technologies, and processes CIOs are leaning on to build resilience and agility in this HBR Analytic Services report: Pillars of resilient digital transformation: How CIOs are driving organizational agility. ]

Aytekin Tank is the founder and CEO of Jotform and the author of Automate Your Busywork. A developer by trade but a storyteller by heart, he writes about his journey as an entrepreneur and shares advice for other startups.