What does ‘digital transformation’ actually mean for organisations?
Yep, we’ve gone there – Digital Transformation, one of the most popular buzz phrases in the digital world, even spanning a whole new raft of Job titles like Digital Transformation Director or Digital Transformation Specialist…Let’s face facts, any business that launches or develops their website or digital assets is performing some kind of Digital transformation, so don’t let anything you read online make you think it has to be any more complex than that. However, what we wanted to look at in this article is how to actually formulate a plan on how to ‘digitaly transform’ your business for the better, as opposed to just simply upgrading your website or putting some fancy buttons somewhere.
The fundamentals of what digital transformation should be;
Using technology to grow or improve your business
When we first started with The Energy Innovation Centre, nothing was off the table. They came to us with their existing business model and ways of working and presented their plans for the next 5 years to us. Our challenge was to look at their business from start to finish, top to bottom and look at all the points where technology could streamline or improve their costs, efficiencies, customer onboarding, sales and retention. This type of project is not for the faint hearted, as with many organisations, The EIC had been doing things ‘their way’ for many years and while they knew the way they were working was not sustainable alongside their growth targets, resistance to change is always something that every organisation has. There is ‘muscle memory’ whereby even if a “better” system is introduced, people tend to gravitate back to what they know and are used to, for them, their way is the better way which is perfectly fair and understandable. This problem is only solved when the new way isn’t just marginally better, but outperforms the old way dramatically. And, dramatically improves the processes for all the key users of the platform…
Bring all parties together
Often the customer will be front and centre of new projects which is obviously very important, but other users such as admin staff or suppliers can get put to the bottom of the priorities or left out all together. Relatively speaking the life cycle of an EIC ‘customer’ is long and complex with many touch points over several years from the customer themselves, EIC team members, various partners and suppliers. Our solution was to create a central portal where all the various users had their own login with their defined access to the 1 central source of truth. This meant everybody is looking at the same version of information, things are not lost in inboxes or lost in translation.
Documents and Versioning
Ever emailed a document with the file name “Final.doc” only to follow up the next day with “Final 2.doc” and then eventually sign off on Final 3 even though there was an 4th version knocking about? You’re not alone. The EIC’s process was document heavy and although they already used a document versioning server they had issues with people forgetting to properly check in and check out files. Our new portal essentially removed the need for documents altogether. With the same information stored in a structured way, and changes submitted directly to the database, data integrity and versioning was enforced.
I think we all have a love hate relationship with our inbox. We believe you’ll never get away from email completely but a digital transformation is likely to reduce reliance on email as a core way of doing business. For the EIC by taking away document sharing, and putting approvals, comments, sign offs and notifications within the portal, we were able to dramatically reduce the businesses reliance on emails.
History, Audit trails, reporting
For the EIC, being able to see the exact state of projects and customers, and being able look back and the various stages, sign offs, authorisations, money spent etc was hugely important. Prior to the portal build a lot of this information was buried in emails, or documents on peoples desktops. With the one central platform, pulling reports with key information was as simple as a click of a button instead of days of collating information from various spreadsheets.
It’s no secret that technology scales! When you remove unnecessary admin tasks and take away long winded manual processes it frees your business to grow without the challenges of growing the team and the complexities that comes with that. This is exactly what EIC have been able to do. Increasing the number of leads generated, the number of challenges published and accepted, the number of innovators, projects, partners all of which have significantly increased without the siugnifancly increasing the team.
Deliver a quality service and a great experience
The list of efficiencies goes on, but the real defining factor of a great digital transformation for us is to deliver a great experience for customers and all involved. If you can take somebody from being a stranger, to a customer, to a raving fan with all the supporting staff and various users in the background playing (and enjoying) their role within the system, and do this at scale, then you’ve made a huge stride forward