What is digital transformation and why does it have such an impact on your company?

“Digital transformation” has been one of the most popular topics in business conferences for some time now. There are even tradeshows that are entirely dedicated to this matter, an example is the one that was held in Montreal a couple of days ago (in which we held our own conferences and dug deeper into this specific topic!). While we hear a lot about digital transformation, we also see an increasing number of big brands shutting down. It is the belief of many that if your company wants to avoid the same fate as Toys “R” Us or Sears, it must quickly join this technological revolution! But wait … what exactly is it that we are talking about? What is digital transformation? How does it work? Despite the omnipresence of this expression, we rarely hear answers to these questions. In this article, we will try to dissipate this confusion.

1. A brief history of digital transformation

The term digital transformation is not a new one. It was already being used in the 1990s when the world was transitioning from analog to digital and the internet was expanding. From the arrival of Amazon to that of social networks to the most recent breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, companies have been modernizing their ways for nearly 30 years. All this in an attempt of adapting to the new possibilities of the digital age which is evolving more and more quickly:

A brief history of digital transformation
Milestones in the digital evolution - Roland Berger - Trend Compedium 2030 - October 2017 - page 24

2. Transitioning from the analog world into the digital one (the general definition)

If we refer to it in the general sense, digital transformation is the transition from the analog world to the world of digital information in our daily lives:

The transition from the analog world to the digital one
The transition from the analog world to the digital one

Take the example of elementary schools where the traditional chalk-filled boards are being replaced by interactive whiteboards. Or think back to the paper show tickets, which have almost become collector artifacts since the popularization of the electronic ticket displayed directly on your phone screen.

3. Innovate and integrate technologies to adapt to new markets (definition for the business)

When we talk more specifically about digital transformation in the business sense of the word, we are generally referring to the way in which your company integrates new technologies to reap their benefits in all its business practices. The goal? ➤ Seize the opportunities made available by these technologies by applying these three aspects to meet the new expectations of your market. It is therefore a matter of establishing a business strategy that leaves much room for innovation and technology to remain competitive.

4. The three pillars of a digital transformation needed by a company

What in practical terms, are the procedures and structures of a company that are affected by this technological transformation? A digital strategy mainly involves the modernization of 3 axes: customer experience, business processes and business models.

1. The client experience ➤ It is fundamental to any digital transformation to consider the way in which the customer wishes to interact with you. The digital age has provided the clients with an unprecedented control and power in their purchasing process thus resulting in their expectations to be higher. Fortunately, you can also reap the benefits of the opportunities that technology brings to optimize the experience of your customers. This will allow you to better respond to the changing demands of your clients.

2. Company processes ➤ The first step in modernizing your business processes is to simplify them. For instance, you can reduce administrative tasks and process time by automating certain repetitive emails or by introducing chatbots to your customer service or scheduling product alerts to advise you of product malfunctions via the internet of things.

3. The business model ➤ To prevent the decline experienced by some companies that have not been able to adjust to new consumer habits, it is better to think about ways to update your business model earlier on. Innovate by leveraging digital technologies to rethink the way you do things. Adjust your model to the new realities of e-commerce by converting your tangible products into digital services.

5. Adapt or be excluded

There are several reasons to undertake a digital transformation. But for many businesses, it is all about survival and being able to continue to offer competitive products and services. What do companies such as Netflix, Uber and Air BnB all have in common? All three companies created new structures that use technologies to put the customer at the centre of the experience. These companies have radically transformed our consumption habits in terms of film viewing, taxi reservations and travel accommodations. Competitors in these sectors must quickly modernize their product and service offerings if they want to stay on the map. Companies that do not act quickly may soon follow. There is no doubt that the popularization of technologies such as artificial intelligence will bring us greater transformations. Your ability to respond and integrate digital technologies will be crucial to the development of your business in this fast-paced world. Well? Is the digital transformation and its impacts on your business clearer? We hope so! Do not hesitate to share your comments or questions with us. We very much enjoy reading your replies! And do not hesitate to contact one of our experts if you need personalized advice regarding your digital strategy.