Digital transformation is helping companies automate and integrate connections to their stakeholders, including customers, partners, vendors and employees.
“Historically, when people talked about technology, it was for technology’s sake,” says Mike McClaine, CEO of Aspirant, a partner of MILHEM DTL, led by Ray Milhem. “But at some point, people realized you need to go beyond technology to put processes in place to actually help the business. It starts with a business problem and looking at what you need to do to solve it, using technology to make something easier and more efficient.”
Smart Business spoke with McClaine about how digital transformation can reduce costs, improve engagement and create efficiencies at your business.
How does a company begin digital transformation?
It starts with a business and its leaders working with an expert to identify a company’s individual problem or challenge and then working to craft a custom solution. But the solution is not solely the technology.
Often, it’s more about processes. It’s critical to include leaders with a clear view of strategic direction and ROI into the process to create a roadmap based on true business value. Companies often have the internal understanding of the business and where they want to go but working with an outside expert can help companies better define business and help create a solution to drive your business to success.
Most of the changes we are currently seeing related to implementing technology and processes to allow for remote work during the pandemic, could have happened five to 10 years ago. But until now, many senior leaders have been resistant to remote work, wanting to see people in their seats in the office. The pandemic has changed the view of CEOs as they realize that employees can work at home and be productive, and sometimes even more efficient.
Businesses are also changing views on whether they truly need 30 floors of office space and realizing that letting it go will free up capital. COVID-19 has taken away the resistance to digital transformation in a virtual environment.
How important is setting clearly defined goals in the process?
Digital transformation is a buzzword that people throw around, but it comes back to understanding what the business challenge is and how people use processes and technology to navigate that challenge. An approach that puts technology first simply does not work.
It’s critical to understand your KPIs and have a clear vision of what you are trying to accomplish with technology to hit your goals. Otherwise, you are going to spend a lot of time, effort and money implementing technology without really getting any value, or even ending up with a solution that is worse than you started with.
Then you need to step beyond the technology. With digital transformation, change management is really vital to bringing people on board. Often people, especially at the middle manager level, will be resistant to change, feeling that they’ve always done things one way and it’s worked just fine. They are often not interested in making changes, so you need to talk about the why, explain the bigger pictures and the things that will be gained, such as corporate efficiencies or better customer service.
Why is change management critical?
Change management is the most underappreciated aspect of digital transformation, as it is intangible. People can understand the cost of something and understand wanting to cut expenses, but it’s not easy to convince them to undertake a major initiative that they can’t easily understand.
Helping them understand the transformation through change management is critical. A real practitioner of change management can be critical to your success and help you manage people and teams from initial awareness to the point of active contribution.
Insights Digital Transformation is brought to you by MILHEM DTL