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The Digital Transformation of Enterprise Business and How to Stay Ahead

Every couple of years a new concept in digital marketing comes to dominate the discussion more than any other. For the past few years, the issue on the minds of most enterprise businesses has been that of digital transformation.

Digital transformation is a concept so broad that it generates many different definitions. Loosely speaking, however, we can think of digital transformation as the process of integrating digital into every aspect of a business. It requires embracing technology as a means to improve customer service, streamline operations, and meet the demands of the digital age.

Many enterprise businesses rely on dozens, if not hundreds of legacy systems and technologies, making the idea of digital transformation an overwhelming one. Still, digital transformation is increasingly essential to staying relevant in the modern landscape. In this article, we’re breaking down why the enterprise should be laser-focused on digital transformation, and introducing some key ideas to get you started.

Why digital transformation is essential for the enterprise

Since the early 2000s, digital disruption has been a major trend that’s impacted businesses in nearly every sector. Consider, for example, how Airbnb has disrupted the hotel industry, or how the rise of streaming services like Netflix have had a lasting (and sometimes devastating) effect the film and television industries.

The reason digital disruptors are so successful at toppling, or at the very least maiming, giants of industry is that they harness the power of technology to provide innovative experiences and maximum convenience. The consumer allure of such disruptors is undeniable.

To avoid becoming the next victim of the tsunami of digital disruptors that just keeps coming, traditional businesses must adapt if they are to survive. Enterprise businesses, in particular, are often at a disadvantage because they’ve been operating the longest and have more legacy systems in place than newer, nimbler competitors. What’s more, the sheer size of enterprise operations makes adapting to new systems a unique challenge.

Meeting the challenge of digital transformation

As a concept digital transformation may seem simple, but in execution, it can quickly become quite complex. True digital transformation at the enterprise level may involve changing operations from the ground level. Systems interact with each other in ways that may not always be easily identifiable at the outset, and learning new ways of working is often challenging and stressful for employees.

The good news is that the challenge is by no means insurmountable. With a strong strategic implementation plan and some perseverance, your business can join the ranks of enterprise-level organizations like Dominoes and The New York Times that have undergone a digital transformation to become even more relevant in the digital age.

Make a strong case for the transformation

It may be clear to decision-makers at the company that digital transformation is necessary, but that doesn’t mean you won’t face resistance from employees. People are naturally averse to change, and employees who are used to doing things one way will be apprehensive about changes to their workflows.

Company leaders need to make a strong, compelling case for why digital transformation is an essential and urgent priority. Emphasize the ways in which new technologies and systems will benefit the company as a whole, as well as the day-to-day workflows of individual employees.

Encourage collaboration and ownership

Beyond simply making the case for change, managers and leaders need to empower employees to take ownership of new processes and systems. Information should be widely shared and available across departments to encourage everyone in the organization to work together in pursuit of the larger common goal.

Be customer-centric

When it comes to an undertaking as large and amorphous as digital transformation, it’s easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. Avoid getting sidetracked by technology implementations that are undertaken for their own sake, and focus instead on the most important question of all: how can we better serve our customers?

Use the answers to this question, whatever they may be, to inform your strategy for digital transformation. This is the only way to ensure that the results of the transformation will be well worth the effort.

Stay true to your business

It’s tempting to want to look at who the big digital disruptors are and model your transformation off of what they’ve done. And though there are lessons to be learned from the successes of others, ultimately your strategy needs to be true to the core of what your business does and who it aims to serve.

Embracing the case for digital transformation

It’s often the case that the right thing to do is also the more difficult thing to do. Leadership teams at enterprise businesses see the writing on the wall that digital transformation is the key to surviving and thriving in the decade to come, but because the change is difficult it is often delayed indefinitely or only partially addressed.

As the new decade dawns why not pause to consider where your enterprise business aims to be in the next five, ten, and twenty years, and embrace how digital transformation will serve you in pursuit of those goals.

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