Insights in your inbox

4 Key Areas of Digital Transformation in Business

March 17, 2022

Digital transformation has quickly become one of the most overused, misunderstood buzz words across various verticals and, even worse, is unrelated to the true definition of digital transformation. If you follow our blog, you know I have a habit of first defining the meaning of a term or phrase.

So, what does digital transformation mean? Digital transformation refers to integrating digital technology into all areas of a business. Typically, when we’re talking about a digital transformation initiative, we’re talking about not only phasing out legacy systems and migrating data and information over to upgraded technology, but we’re also talking about fundamentally changing the way a business operates and delivers value to its customers. Digital transformation typically is strategized, process mapped, planned, and implemented by a business operation professional.

Typically, a company takes on or considers a digital transformation initiative when sweeping changes happen in customer expectations regarding products or services or a desire to pursue new business models and revenue streams. There are many reasons a company decides to start a digital transformation initiative, but recently one of the most critical reasons is basic economic survival. The pandemic heightened the need to adapt quickly to our global supply chain, time to market pressure, the rapidly changing customer expectations, and our digital incapability.

In this article, we’re going to cover the four key areas of digital transformation for your business. We know that any company that makes a technology purchase, whether large or small, is never a one and done. Technology, like anything else, will never stay the same; business leaders need to understand that as the company evolves and grows, its business processes and technology must change with it. Sometimes that means the tools and resources, otherwise referred to as technology, may no longer be appropriate to serve your organization and your team. If a business leader decides to keep antiquated technology for too long, you may be doing more harm than good and missing out on opportunities to grow and scale your business. Business leaders have learned in 2020 and 2021 by way of the great resignation that sitting on antiquated technology or manual processes are not only expensive but no longer sustainable. In the current environment, you need to make fewer people more productive. One way to do that is digital transformation. Four key areas of digital transformation are:

  1. Business process

  2. Business model

  3. Domain

  4. Cultural/organizational

One of the biggest misconceptions business operations professionals often find is that companies tend to respond to business concerns in a very siloed manner. If you need a new piece of technology, you purchase that piece of technology and do not address the business processes, the business model, or the cultural or organizational domain. Failing to look at the entire picture typically leads to an unsuccessful digital transformation initiative. The multidimensional nature The only way a digital transformation initiative will truly be successful is if business leaders remember that digital transformation in and of itself is multidimensional. That means we must involve all the lines of business directly and indirectly connected to a digital transformation initiative.

1. Business Process

The business process transformation is arguably the most important step. It is truly the only way to understand a company’s current processes and technology stack and how they communicate with each other. During the exercise of business process transformation, experts map out business processes and look at the technology stack. It could include their shadow IT issues if the technology stack within the process isn’t making sense. We go through a business process transformation to reduce cycle times, cut costs, minimize human error, and eliminate unnecessary steps and tasks. Additionally, business process transformation will cut down on the human capital element. Manual processes are often contingent on getting completed.

2. Business Model Transformation

This is the second key area. A business model transformation looks at how your company delivers its products or services to your customer. When we think about business process transformation, it focuses on finite areas of the business. However, a business model transformation concentrates on the fundamental building blocks of the company and how they deliver value to their customers within their respective industries.

An example would be comparing Blockbuster Videos to Netflix. In its infancy, Netflix entered the movie and video game business but offered the product and the service in a different format, driving a new business model in the video and game rental business. Thus essentially driving Blockbuster Video’s brick-and-mortar stores out of business.

3. The Domain Transformation

While the business process transformation focuses on streamlining steps and tasks and business model transformation focuses on delivering value to your customers by innovating your products and services, domain transformation covers an entirely separate area of digital transformation. Business leaders need to look at opportunities outside their industry vertical that have not been considered. When thinking about companies like Amazon, online shopping, streaming movies, and books may come to mind, but Amazon launched a division of service offerings called Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is now the largest cloud computing infrastructure service in the world. They’re up against players like Microsoft and IBM. AWS and cloud computing refers to a computer database that supports its core retail business and supports the thousands of relationships with companies that sell their products on the Amazon platform. Think about additional avenues you could take your business because the opportunities are endless.

4. Cultural and Organizational Transformation

Organizations looking for a successful, long-term digital transformation must also consider redefining the organizational mindsets, processes, talent, and capabilities for the organization’s future. When we think about cultural and organizational transformation, we know that companies need to have an agile and adjustable workflow, an environment that encourages testing and learning, and truly breaking down and decentralizing the decision-making process. Organizations that desire a different mindset have greater resilience in their business ecosystems. Growth begins by pulling innovation skills, having a digital mindset, and being agile, which all contribute to the cultural and organizational transformation. The beginning of a cultural and organizational shift may require less work than you think. You more than likely have hidden gems right inside your organization.

Cultural and organizational change is a long-term requirement of success for any organization, but the best-in-class companies consider these capabilities a product of, rather than a prerequisite for, a successful business transformation initiative.