In an increasingly digital age, companies are under pressure to develop their technological capabilities or risk being left behind. Digital transformation is both a long and difficult process, but it is an important step to planning for the future success of any business. A change in culture to accept a ‘trial and error’ approach to a digital transformation project is essential. Here’s how to successfully prepare to take your business digital.

Trial and error

While there have been several examples of companies failing a digital transformation project, many need to understand that failing is ultimately in the best interest of the company’s future. Digital transformation is hugely beneficial to companies looking to improve user experience and remain competitive in their industry. However, incorporating technological innovations into your business as it continues to operate on a daily basis is no easy feat.

Therefore, a culture of experimentation is key to constantly refining and improving the organisation’s relationship with its users. There is no set portfolio for digital transformation, so companies must adopt a ‘trial and error’ method to discover what works best for them and ultimately what’s best for their users. Failing may be hard to accept, but in reality, it pushes companies towards correcting mistakes, making improvements and optimising the latest emerging technologies.

The importance of work culture

To make the most out of a failed project, a company needs to have the right culture. Digital transformation won’t be able to proceed if a team can’t admit failure and then embrace it as they learn to keep experimenting and thereby keep improving. This begins with ensuring that technology is given its proper place in the boardroom. Executives need to incorporate technology amongst the business’ top priorities, so it is given the attention and budget needed to take the business digital.

In relation to this, having the right team members to guide the digital transformation process is crucial. Executives need to be educated on digital transformation, its benefits, how to plan for it and what is needed from the company to succeed.

On another level, technology staff are critical to the success of the project. Companies don’t need more employees when proceeding with a project, they need the right ones. Contractors offer industry knowledge and experience as well as an unbiased opinion to balance out loyal, permanent employees who are highly skilled but are heavily invested in the project. Ensuring you have the correct mix of people of different levels, backgrounds and skills is essential to creating the culture need for digital transformation.

In addition, being bespoke is the only way to differentiate and stand out among competitors. In order to connect with users, you need to provide them with a unique service or product. Digital transformation is all about providing the best experience for your users; if you can understand who they are and what they want, it’ll make the process smoother.

What not to do

While companies need to ‘fail’ if they want to improve, there are certain mistakes to avoid when taking your business digital. Firstly, businesses need to forget the standard market research approach that has previously been the norm when approaching a new development project. While useful for researching material products, you cannot apply the same method when researching digital ‘products’ like websites or mobile apps.

Instead of businesses wondering and then deciding what they think people want, it’s essential to think about what users want. User experience research is hugely valuable for companies looking to improve their digital offering by understanding who their users are and what they’re looking for. This research can then be used to refine and improve the digital offering, which is crucial in digital transformation.

Another important step before beginning the process is ensuring that there is a proper strategic plan in place. Some companies have struggled to go digital because they jumped the gun and immediately started thinking about implementing new technology. While the possibilities of AI, big data, cloud and blockchain are exciting, first companies need to understand what they need, not what they want. A well thought-out strategy will help companies understand that digital transformation is not a quick fix, it is an ongoing process that embraces change.

Similarly, companies need to understand that the switchover between their old systems and servers to the new technologies cannot be achieved in one go. The average business uses over 1,000 software applications which hold masses of crucial data, vital to the daily running of the business. The transfer of information and applications will need a step-by-step plan to ensure the company can continue to operate.

While taking a business digital may seem difficult, long and tough to plan, senior decision leaders need to fully embrace the transformation process. By understanding the need for the right culture, a holistic strategy, and the ability to adopt a trial-and-error approach, businesses will be able to enjoy a successful digital transformation.