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Five reasons why digital transformation is essential for business growth

Whatever a company’s vision for the future, it must include digital transformation in order to grow

A close-up shot of a hand made of digital connections shaking the hand of someone in a suit

​New and transformative technologies were rapidly entering the workplace even before the pandemic, enabling businesses to innovate and thrive in an increasingly digital world.

But then 2020 happened, and what was supposed to take years had to happen in only a few months or less. But why is digital transformation important?

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Adopting more of a digital presence helped a number of businesses maintain consistency amongst teams throughout the pandemic, and has also allowed work to improve in efficiency and flexibility. 

Eight in ten organisations fast-tracked their digital transformation programmes in 2020, according to Dell’s Digital Transformation Index 2020, which surveyed over 4000 business leaders globally. In addition, 89% said the pandemic highlighted the need for a more agile and scalable IT environment.

In a world emerging from the throes of COVID-19, digital transformation has become a key target for businesses in every sector.

It's apparent that in 2022, properly utilised technology is not a choice but a need for every business. Technology strategies need to be woven into all corners of an organisation, to provide higher employee innovation and satisfaction, greater data insights, improved collaboration, and a more personalised customer experience.

Today’s chief information officer (CIO) must shift their focus from traditional technology management to projects that make their organisation ready for the future.

1. Everyone expects an on-demand service

In a world that is increasingly digital, customers expect companies to adopt the very best online and digital solutions to remain efficient and competitive. If it’s too difficult to engage with a business online, there are always a number of competitors with the potential to offer a user easier access to their services.

This provides a double-edged opportunity, because while businesses have never been offered a greater choice of suppliers for services, models of delivery and markets to target, improper implementation of a digital strategy can leave a firm in its competitors’ dust.

Companies need to consider the value of flexible and agile working, in order to deliver effective services that meet the needs of customers, as well as keep up internal collaboration between employees. In theory, digital transformation should be holistic, affecting all experiences internal and external including how teams interact with departments like IT, and access systems, networks and tools for work.

2. Employees need modern tools to be effective

The term ‘new normal’ was thrown around a lot in 2020, but there’s no denying that in 2022 working from home has superseded traditional work models to become standard for a number of employees. Productive tools for working from home must be provided by employers, and effective digital transformation is a vital undertaking for maintaining employee engagement.

Digital transformation provides a valuable opportunity for core business functions, such as finance and HR, to move away from manual processes and work to automate key areas like payroll. The time saved by installing proper automation can enable leaders to focus on wider business opportunities.

Productivity platforms like Slack, Teams and Zoom have become not just commonplace in the office, but tools to be relied upon for teamwork. True, employees can keep in touch with one another easier than ever before, but they can also use these platforms for collaboration, implementation of more efficient strategies, and to assign work fairly and effectively.

In most businesses, all of this rests on the shoulders of the IT department, which has to maintain top network performance, enterprise-wide security, and advise on employee use of tools.

3. Security is a top business priority

A major headache for many IT leaders is how to balance shifting more data to the edge of company networks, without sacrificing the security of said data. As time goes on, this task becomes more difficult, with threats evolving to counteract the security practices of the past. In response, companies must enforce rigorous protocols around data compliance and access.

But even the most stringent security measures are useless if an underperforming network forces staff to go elsewhere for flexibility or faster speeds.

It is essential that progressive businesses implement a security strategy consistently across all networks, applications and data, whatever services or service providers are being used.

As we look beyond the pandemic-enforced remote working to hybrid working models that incorporate workers’ different lifestyle needs, up-to-date security measures are especially important. Executives will need to balance security strategies that work for in-office staff with measures that still keep remote workers on personal networks and devices safe.

To allow the effects of digital transformation to be truly transformative, CIOs should surround themselves with both business and technology partners that understand the broader business objectives and can operate honestly and transparently to achieve these goals.

4. To strengthen business partnerships

Demands from customers are increasing, and competition within industries is fierce. Firms are becoming increasingly reliant on each other, working with suppliers and distributors, sub-contractors and specialised consultants, with the aim of producing a diverse range of products and services that interest customers.

Managing these partners often requires document-based communication, a process traditionally viewed as an exhausting obstacle to efficiency. But technology is now available that can redesign this process. Utilising an eSignature system can enable a streamlined workflow that is more transparent, timely and accurate. This can even bridge the gap to mobile technology, helping employees be more effective and productive day-to-day.

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Public-facing changes to a business can often be chosen over internal improvements, especially with the increasing pressure on IT departments both in terms of budget and responsibilities. However, this is a mistake to be avoided.

By constructing a digital process at an early stage, and integrating technology throughout the wider organisation, businesses stay up-to-date and open themselves up to future partners. Internal processes can become more efficient and adaptable, with the ability to scale as the business grows. Over time, digital transformation strengthens any business partnership, paying for itself in its overall benefits.

5. Make better decisions, faster

Placing data and analytics at the centre of a digital transformation strategy will allow businesses to take advantage of big data.

Enterprises today have access to greater volumes of data than ever before, in no small part due to the Internet of Things (IoT). With the right set of analytical tools, this data can be converted into valuable business insights that can be used to make more informed, quicker decisions. The deeper analytical tools are embedded in business operations, the greater the integration and effect they can have.

Using the correct tools, this data can be analysed for invaluable business insights, and can help inform fast-paced decision-making. The greater the degree to which analytical tools are placed within the heart of the business, the greater their positive effects can be.

Technologies that utilise artificial intelligence (AI) could be key to an organisation’s processing of big data. Innovation in this field continues at pace, and the sector can expect to rely even more heavily on processes such as machine learning for timely and well-informed decisions as research goes on.

It’s difficult to keep track of all the developments in the tech sector that help, now and in the future, with digital transformations. However, AI has a surefire seat at the table going forward, and is likely to be crucial in developments regarding big data.

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