January 10, 2017
Written by Dana Youngren
Done right, digitization can help turn just about any company into a more customer-centric, high-performing organization. Chances are you’ve started digitizing your business, but haven’t started seeing all the benefits you expected. Or maybe you aren’t seeing results as quickly as you’d like. Either way, it may just be time to take a step back and make a few adjustments in your approach. Here are five things you can do to accelerate your gains from digitization.
1. Take A Strategic View
Always start digitization projects with your end goals in mind. Think about what you’re trying to accomplish, and build a strategy around those goals. What do you want to achieve? A shorter process for sharing information internally? Speedier responses for when customers have questions? Only when you’ve defined the business objectives for a digitization project can you start to determine how you’re going to reach them. Set your goals first, and back out your project strategy from there.
2. Don’t Just Tack On Technology
Investing in digital technology resources is an important part of digitizing, but it’s by no means the only component. If you’re just tacking on digital technology to automate the same old processes and practices you’ve always used, don’t be surprised if you continue to experience the same old problems with productivity and performance you did before. But if instead you treat digitization as a tool for deep, fundamental improvements in how people work and how they work together – how they search for, find and share information, for example – you will realize its truly transformative power.
3. Couple Digital Tools With Talent
Digitization won’t work without workers who know how to get the most out of it. Take a two-pronged approach to the challenge of connecting people and digital tools: 1) rely on people with strong digitization skills to guide your digital transformation, and 2) choose digital tools that are designed to be fairly easy and intuitive for the less-skilled to understand and use once they’re in place. Ultimately, you want to create a culture in which everyone brings some level of digital awareness and skill to their jobs across the organization. The answer may be a mix of hiring new people based on digital talent and training existing employees to strengthen their digital capabilities.
4. Focus Your Efforts
Digitization has the potential to transform every part of an organization from product or service development, to supply chain and operations, to sales and marketing. And while it’s important to see the organization as a whole, and to pursue improvements across all these areas, that doesn’t mean you have to tackle everything at once. As part of your digitization strategy, identify areas where your organization will benefit most from digitization. (For example, at Procter & Gamble, recruitment was one key area to be digitized.) Then balance that against where you can make significant changes quickly. This will help shape your thinking about ongoing initiatives and guide your investments in an enabling digital infrastructure to support them.
5. Set Your Priorities
What exactly is the best way to set specific priorities for digitization? You have to decide what issues you need to consider and evaluate every potential project against those criteria. Suppose your overarching goal is to digitize institutional knowledge about products or services. You may want to consider things like: Which information assets are sales reps requesting the most? Are some assets out of date or inaccurate? If so, should you rethink investing resources in digitizing them? What about the value of resources across the organization? Do you want to prioritize assets that both the sales reps and the CSRs in your organization use frequently? Whatever the goal, you need to establish a set of carefully considered criteria to ensure digitization will move you toward that goal.
In short, remember you can’t rely on technology alone to deliver the benefits of digitization to your organization. You need an approach that’s inspired by business goals, driven by a commitment to change, and fueled by an energetic, enthusiastic team. Follow these best practices, and you’ll realize tremendous benefits.
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