digital transformation shown in nature

Communication is key to successful digital transformation in 2021

Digital transformation is nothing new, it’s been somewhat of a buzz phrase in the business world for a number of years. The whole world is undergoing a digital transformation and that process doesn’t take place overnight. One of the reasons it’s been around so long is because it continues to be a priority, especially now as brands lean on technology to help them through a difficult period. 

The name ‘digital transformation’ is partially misleading because, while it is about the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, it’s also about cultural change. To undergo a digital transformation is to entirely change the way that a company operates, interacts with customers and manages staff. 

Technologies built on machine learning and automation understandably form a cornerstone for many brands’ digital transformation; they are vital for enhancing productivity and streamlining business processes, but they aren’t the only tools boosting operational efficiency. Communication technologies are equally important in achieving that goal. Many of the solutions that we offer at Theravada fall into this category, including our digital signage, ordering platforms, kitchen management and staff communication devices. 

It might seem strange that, when the benefits of digital transformation are clear, so many companies have held back from taking the plunge and making an investment. In business, the attitude of ‘if it ain’t broke’ coupled with an unwillingness to invest unnecessarily can hold people back. Few are keen to take a leap, only for that leap to backfire. That’s why, so often, the journey has been triggered by an instinct and need for survival. 

Never has that been more true than in the last nine months. Since the pandemic, a brand’s agility and ability to switch course at speed has been lifesaving. According to recent McKinsey research, companies have accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years. And the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios has accelerated by a shocking seven years. It’s believed by many that those that have learned to quickly adapt to their fluctuating supply chain, the ever changing legal requirements and evolving consumer expectations, will be the ones to come through the other side of this global disaster. 

Once the digital transformation journey is under way, proper people management is essential for success. Planning the course of the transformation and being transparent with stakeholders about the changes taking place – as well as the likelihood of disruptions is key. For cultural change to happen alongside digital adoption, staff, investors and customers must buy into the need for transformation, so be vocal about the eventual benefits. Will it reduce the time staff have to spend on administrative tasks, for example? Could it make engaging with the business easier for customers? Will it work to better retain talent and increase on-site productivity? Laying out a timeline with challenges and goalposts will help win buy-in at every level, and activate the cultural switch. 

At the other end of the journey, businesses need to spend time reporting the results of their digital transformation back to these same stakeholders. By focusing on the positive impact of the change, those that might have remained unsold on the company’s plans will be more inclined to embrace the change and engage with it long term. To do this, don’t just look at the beginning and the end. Tracking progress throughout allows small adjustments to be made so that goals can be reached much faster. 

If digital transformation is to be a success, not only do the technologies adopted need to fit with the brand and provide a tangible benefit, but they must inherently change the way that people within a business work. By focusing on stakeholder communication as described, innovation will be easier to implement and of greater benefit for all.