Digital Transformation has rapidly changed how organizations operate successfully and stay competitive. The challenges posed by a global pandemic only accelerated existing trends.
Industry 4.0 is already ushering in widespread interconnectivity as well as AI and machine learning applications—from 5G to semi-autonomous vehicles, IoT and smart homes to breakthroughs in medicine, energy storage, and agriculture.
All of this equates to rapid business transformation.
For organizations—particularly small businesses or SMBs—to remain competitive, they’ll need to develop and operationalize digital competencies. These "fundamentals for digital transformation" will remove friction from day-to-day activities and enable them to take iterative steps towards increasing digital maturity—while also ensuring their investments in those efforts generate value as early as possible.
In this blog, we'll explore five pillars for successful digital transformation to help nurture organizational change.
By laying these five foundations for successful transformation, organizations like yours will be able to forge more resilient brands and be more nimble in adapting to challenges that arise along their journey. When paired with a cohesive digital strategy—you'll also benefit from a better (and shared) understanding of the necessary steps to take towards your medium and long-term goals.
Technology Pillars: The Digital Foundations To Drive Business Transformation and Organizational Change
We’ll take these one at a time and provide an overview of the advantages. While these are divided into five separate "categories" the key to successful transformation is to approach all of them with a shared, holistic mindset. You'll want these digital tools and foundations to work together to support streamlined workflows and better customer engagements.
Together, these will help you overcome technical obstacles while empowering you to build a complete digital strategy and roadmap.
Technology Pillar #1: Cloud Storage & Collaboration
To effectively operate and drive change, your organization needs a cloud-storage ecosystem to store and collaborate on documents, files, and business intelligence.
There are a variety of tools and workspace suites out there for you to choose from—and they don’t need our help being named :P.
Whichever you choose, try to remove unneeded effort for employee tasks so that they can focus on the effort at hand and how to best deliver value to customers.
Security measures are important (more on that later)—as is ensuring that you have tools to share documents and files (with varying levels of sensitivity) with your customers via the cloud and other channels—and not via email.
Technology Pillar #2: Chat & Communication
Your day-to-day, critical business communication should NOT be running solely on email. Effective communication hubs integrate chat systems and video conferencing tools directly into daily conversations.
To be effective—you should organize teams and communication channels around groups—but also specific projects/tasks and around strategic customer efforts.
By approaching communication in this way—organizations ensure that entire teams are kept “in-the-know” and that conversations are relocated closer to the end-point, where—and with whom—the actual work is performed.
In 2020, coronavirus caused a huge strain on many businesses around the world. It forced organizations with tech debt or who were missing digital companies to juggle and adopted new meeting habits, video conferencing tools, and more—or shudder.
During this same time, forward-thinking organizations who had previously integrated modern communication tools and operations into their businesses were at a significant advantage.
While we'd hope another global pandemic isn't coming in the short term—there will absolutely be other trends and events that occur.
Organizations who are equipped to operate remotely and autonomously will be more agile and able to adapt to challenges as they arise.
Technology Pillar #3: Project & Task Management
Effective teams operate with shared processes, understanding of tasks and deliverables, as well as expectations and business goals.
Project and task management software not only provide transparency and up-to-the-minute insights on progress throughout an organization—they also reinforce the framework for communication and effective collaboration.
If your teams are operating without a shared task or project system—or on spreadsheets—then you’re missing out on deep insights and the advantages of instantaneous collaboration. Organizations that implement management tools are able to streamline operations, reduce administrative burdens of managing large teams, and ensure projects are delivered on time.
Operating without these tools basically translates to “Wild West” operating habits. In these environments, teams allocate resources and efforts to projects that are backed by “squeaky wheels” within your organization—rather than on projects that have the most value. This also leaves your management team without metrics or insights into progress—diminishing their ability to accurately project outcomes or make plans.
Project Management tools like Monday.com can instantly deliver value to your teams, reinforce processes, as well as communicate critical project progress throughout your organization.
Technology Pillar #4: Customer Relationship Management
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is ALL of the activities, strategies, and technologies that your organization uses to manage customer interactions throughout the entire relationship with that customer. It is arguably the most important of these technology pillars. Choosing the right CRM solution can help you streamline your entire digital footprint, integrate document storage, and communication—not to mention make ALL customer operations more effective.
Successful CRMs provide a complete history of customer interactions and preferences so that all sales and support personnel are always on the same page. They even promote proactive engagement and support—enabling you to differentiate your brand with best-in-class experiences.
Successful CRMs also enable integrations with the other tools and software systems your organization needs to leverage to add value to customer interactions. They are the backbone to your sales, marketing, and support operations.
For more information on effective CRMs, see Is Your CRM Restricting Business Growth?
If you're a growing SMB and looking for the advantages of centralized customer information, business intelligence, and streamlined digital workflows—let's chat about how Squad4 can help you.
We have extensive experience with a variety of CRMs—but we're also a certified HubSpot Partner helping organizations grow the right way.
Technology Pillar #5: Cybersecurity
Last—but certainly not least is cybersecurity. With the business footprint increasingly residing in digital space—cybersecurity tools, processes, and employee training will become ever more important. Organizations without the basic tools, authentication measures, or with low cybersecurity literacy will find themselves on the wrong end of a cyber attack.
Yes, there are costs associated with your investment in security measures. However; that amount is tiny when compared to the total cost of remediation from a phishing or ransomware attack on your business. Not to mention the “difficult to measure” brand damage that can be inflicted.
Did you know that the average global cost of a data breach in 2019 was reported to be $3.86 Million (USD)? (Security Today)
If you’re a small business, you need to start with training and the very basics. Those are:
- Have a basic training plan for all employees (that you can refine over time)
- All employees should be using password managers like LastPass
- All employees should know the basic signs of a phishing attack
- All sensitive business accounts (especially customer data repositories) should require strong/unique passwords with multi-factor authentication (MFA) enabled
Depending on your organization, employees, and capabilities—there are a variety of measures you can and should take to further secure your digital footprint.
Don’t forget to consider all cloud environments, databases, and accounts as you do this. For more information on how to secure your organization, check out this guide: Security Tools for Building the Circle of Trust
Next Steps: Adopting Technologies and Outlining Your Digital Strategy
In our experience, it is these five foundations that help organizations progress to higher levels of digital maturity. Just to reiterate:
- Cloud Storage & Collaboration Tools
- Chat & Communication
- Project & Task Management
- Customer Relationship Management
With these in place—and with a cohesive digital strategy and roadmap—they enhance communication, empower remote teams, improve project management, gain efficiencies from shared resources and workflows, and ultimately deliver differentiated customer value.
Overall, you should be able to accomplish these critical foundations (implementing basic cloud storage, chat, and project management software) within just a few weeks or months.
That doesn’t mean you need to aim for full integration and adoption in each of these categories. Only that you have selected, acquired, and equipped your teams with the fundamentals to enable efficient development on future projects.
Adoption will take time and likely need refinement down the road—but the key is to get started.
Creating a digital strategy that is effective requires a lot of inputs and a full understanding of your organization’s AS-IS and desired FUTURE states. This takes time.
If you haven’t started yet, you should aim to outline a preliminary, first draft that can help guide your efforts—and then refine it over time.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. These merely represent the primary categories of solutions and approaches that will provide you and your organization with the foundational technologies and strategies to achieve higher levels of digital maturity.
If you’re trying to decide between CRMs or or project management tools—or ready to improve your online presence but don’t have the internal resources—let's talk. We help growing SaaS, MedTech, and B2B organizations develop cohesive digital and transformation strategies focused around Customer Experience (CX).