Exploring the Blueprint of a Digital-First Business
While digital transformation is often thought of as simply replacing outdated legacy systems with the latest technology, there’s a lot more that goes into being a truly ‘digital organisation’.
Being a digital-first business isn’t down to a list of technology you use, it’s a complete mindset shift that dictates everything from how your company operates and how teams work and behave to the values that drive decision-making.
A digital organisation can operate effectively in difficult, often uncertain market conditions, using its organisational flexibility and agility to react quickly and make decisions to improve how teams work. However, while this all sounds great, what does a digital organisation actually look like and what does it need to succeed?
Let’s explore what it takes to be a digital organisation.
5 Traits of a Digital Business
“A digital-first organisation is where people, processes, tools, and structures are all focused on optimizing digital so companies can be more productive,” says Stephen Redwood, Principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP. The implementation of digital technologies can help accelerate progress towards enterprise goals such as financial returns, workforce diversity, and environmental targets by 22%, according to Deloitte. Businesses that adopt this way of working share traits in common that help them make the most of their digital technologies.
Let’s take a look at just a few.
1 – Breaking Siloes
When businesses believe they have the perfect technology setup, or that new technology would disrupt the processes they already have negatively, they’re closing themselves off from progress. If businesses and business leaders want to continue to grow and outpace the competition, they should always be looking for new ways of working or new technology they can bring in.This technology should improve processes at multiple levels, across all departments, including improving how teams work and collaborate, reducing bottlenecks, reducing costs and eliminating operational inefficiencies.
For example, businesses that replace their systems with cloud systems can enjoy improved efficiency because the information is no longer limited to a specific hard drive. Instead, information can flow freely between team members, because they’re all connected to the same system through cloud technology.
33% of IT leaders say they’re migrating away from legacy systems to cloud-based tools, according to Google, showing the impact of cloud technology. Cloud systems allow businesses to host all their data and programs off-site, using an external vendor, with everything easily accessible for any employee with the correct login information and an internet connection. This also removes the lack of connectivity between departments, which is a common problem in a lot of businesses. Instead, departments can all be connected and share important business-wide updates because they’re all using the same connected system, allowing them to operate as one seamless network. This will help businesses be in control of the environment they’re in and find new ways of working within it, instead of relying solely on what’s worked in the past.
2 – Culture is based on encouragement, not micromanagement
Leaders within a business should actively encourage their employees to think outside the box and experiment with new ways of working that could benefit the business. This type of acceptable flexibility within teams can be magnified by digital transformation, which opens employees up to the possibilities presented by new technologies. Employees are given autonomy to think for themselves and to come up with solutions to improve functions or solve problems they’ve been facing for a while. This level of input from so many people in your business increases the chances of them developing far more efficient and streamlined methods of working. Better still, teams should be given the chance to be open about what they’re doing and how they’re working, even if this new way of working is drastically different from the previous view of things. This encourages cross-department experimentation and, again, opens the business up to discover new ways of working now that everyone throughout the business is no longer restricted to just sharing ideas in their own spaces.
3 – Flexibility
The world of business has changed drastically in the past few years. With many businesses now operating a hybrid model, where remote working is accepted and encouraged, many business models have proven themselves to be adaptable to new ways of working. 24% of office employees worked under a hybrid model by February 2022, according to the Office of National Statistics, meaning a large portion of the population needs flexible technology to work effectively.
In years past, the technology simply wasn’t available to offer remote workers the same level of connectivity and information to perform their roles adequately. However, technology like cloud systems has formed the basis of connectivity and communications in businesses from the top down so that everyone has access to the same information whenever and wherever they need it.This allows teams to be flexible about how they work without sacrificing communication or collaboration.
4 – A focus on digital-first systems
Manual processes held their place in businesses for a long time, and still do in many cases.
But the more technology has evolved, the more we’ve seen technology be able to handle manual processes autonomously, virtually without the need for human intervention at all.
This has saved businesses huge sums of cash, which is why businesses should always be looking for new technology to remove manual processes where possible, raise efficiency and boost profits.
Automation programs can gather and input data into multiple databases automatically, without the need for human input and at a fraction of the time it would take a human worker. This can help businesses keep track of essential data much faster, allowing them to make important decisions at an improved timescale. It also eliminates the possibility of human error, which can cause issues further down the line if they’re not spotted and resolved quickly.
An important step in this process is to leave behind the “this is how we’ve always done it” mindset. Once you reject the idea that you’re stuck in a continuous loop of processes just because you’ve never known any different, you’re free to explore methods of improving your business. It might be scary at first, but the more you embrace digital technology and understand it, the faster you’ll realise its advantages and incorporate it into your business.
For example, you can begin analysing data and adapt your products and services based on what you perceive to be the future needs of the consumer, instead of what they’ve always bought. Alternatively, you could use digital technology like UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) systems to bring all of your communication methods together under one roof, streamlining your internal and external communications for better collaboration.
5 – Leaders that value innovation
Digital organisations won’t survive without leadership that believes in the benefits of digital transformation. If business leaders aren’t fully invested in the possibilities of digital innovation and understand that experimentation and testing are part of the journey, their businesses will never fully succeed while others will reap the benefits. However, business leaders who successfully embrace digital transformation and innovation look at the process as more than a monetary one.
It’s true, digital transformation needs some investment in the beginning, otherwise, no digital technologies could ever be onboarded. However, investing more in the beginning means you’ll be able to reap more rewards further down the line when you see a healthy return on investment and your digital technologies start working for you. Just looking at the costs involved emphasises an element of risk that shy organisations who won’t try new things will never even attempt, in case they get blamed for wasting money in the event the transformation is unsuccessful.
Are You Ready to Become a Fully Digital Organisation?
87% of senior business leaders say digitisation is a priority, according to a report by Gartner.
If some of your processes are stunting your growth, it’s worth making the switch to digital technology or investing in more modern digital tech to best serve your needs and the needs of your audience.
If you’re ready to start the digital transformation of your business, our specialists are here to help! Fill in our contact form today or give us a call on 0344 875 8880.