In increasingly competitive markets, companies need to keep innovating to stay relevant. This means offering the most up-to-date services, contemporary products and, most importantly, operating on the best available technologies.

This, in essence, is the goal of digital transformation. Although the name might be relatively new, it’s a concept that’s been around as long as humans have been using technology. Whether it’s farmers investing in motorized vehicles or an eCommerce store updating their sales software, digital transformation is about incorporating appropriate and useful technology into all aspects of your work in order to better meet customer demand.

Why digital transformation?

You may be thinking “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it; why do I need a digital transformation if our technology already serves our needs?” And yes, you might be right, after all you know your company best. Maybe your technology is perfect as it is, but the odds are you could benefit from digital transformation.

Nils Kompaan, a tech writer at 1Day2write and Nextcoursework, says “If it’s been a while since you’ve researched technological solutions, you may not even realize new tech has been developed that could make your work easier and your workers more efficient. Software that takes advantage of the newest developments in data science can help factor transparency into your work, strengthening your relationship with your customers. In fact, digital transformation is a great way to deliver even more value to your customers by incorporating social media, marketing and eCommerce solutions driven by data.”

5 Steps Towards Digital Transformation

No matter what industry you’re in, there are some general rules that will help you develop and execute a successful digital transformation plan.

  1. Determine where you are, and where you want to go. Determine what level of technological capability you’re currently at what level you want to get to. This will be different for every company and will naturally depend on budget, staff requirements and resource availability.
  2. Get everyone involved. Digital transformation is not just an IT department’s responsibility. The whole purpose is to be transformative of the business as a whole, so involving people at all levels of the company is essential for developing an all-encompassing plan that has the backing of both your employees and your stakeholders.
  3. Establish leadership. While you want input from all levels of the organization, you also want a clear chain of command for sourcing, choosing and implementing the new technology. Have someone knowledgeable about the business’ technological needs and capabilities in a leadership position so that important decisions are made effectively by a responsible person.
  4. Research the market. Knowing as much as you can about your own company is only part of the equation, you also need to know what’s out there. This means both what technologies are available to you but also what your competitors are using. If they have recently undergone digital transformations themselves that could be a good indication of particular technologies to look into or avoid.
  5. Divide the labor. Ingrid Birdman, a business analyst at Australia2write and Britstudent, points out that “any comprehensive digital transformation strategy can end up being a huge project, so it helps to break it up into smaller projects and divide the work across your team. As long as you’ve involved everyone and established firm leadership your individual projects should match up together to achieve your overall transformation goals.”

 Moving forward: digital transformation culture

Digital transformation can be more than a one-off project. If you want to truly keep on top of developments in technological tools and solutions, you should try to develop a digital transformation culture in your workplace.

Corporate cultures are hard to find and even harder to define. Open up your door to the idea that any worker, IT department or otherwise, could bring up a suggestion of a new tool or service that could benefit the business. Have regular training and check-ins to make sure your staff knows exactly how to use your technology and that it’s working to the best of their needs. Survey your customers to see if they are happy with your technological output. By making digital transformation an iterative project you can make sure your company is always innovating.

Josephine Jacobs is an executive coach and organizational consultant with more than 10 years of experience enhancing the performance of individual executives, teams and organizations. She is currently working on digital transformation initiatives.