How to Digitize Your Existing Traditional Business

Digitalization is no longer a buzzword, rather it has become a norm. Businesses need to digitize in order to remain competitive. With the initiation of business digitization by Airbnb and Uber, soon most companies realized the value addition and joined the digitalization race.

Most of us would have lost the habit of going to a bank for making transactions – everything is just a click away with apps. Occasionally, we might go to shops as anything could be ordered online! You name any service, it is highly probable that it would be available online. That shows the way digital is transforming the world and that is a great deal to justify that it’s time for you to digitize your business !

Let’s explore how to digitize your traditional business.

Formulating a digitization strategy after adequate planning

Each business regardless of the industry vertical it operates in has its own set of processes. And even these processes are not standardized across organizations, barring a few. Whether we talk of marketing, finance, Human Resources, logistics, manufacturing or strategy, basically the procedures might vary. That said, before embarking on your journey of digitalization, you need to take a call with all the stakeholders involved on what areas would be impacted and how? And in accordance with your business constraints, a digitalization strategy must be in place. This in turn calls for adequate planning, which is the first step. 

Planning must include – understanding and analysing the various aspects of your business with respective stakeholders, deciding on the programs to be rolled out to digitize business, and weighing the pros and cons before you actually go ahead. You could for instance, check if your organization currently uses too many formal approvals or workflows, how would digitalization impact or improvise on that? In case, you plan to digitalize the human resources department, which operations would be eliminated in future? Will automation help in cost-cutting and also increase efficiency? On the contrary, will it result in a lot of employees losing their jobs, which could negatively affect your reputation.

In a nutshell, a lot of thoughtful planning is required in advance, post which you need to chalk out a strategy to digitalize , in agreement with the major stakeholders across functions and communicate it to the organization.

Partnering with service providers

Quite often, to digitalize your business, you may need to expand your internal IT team with consultants skilled in cloud-based or other technologies. In most cases, organizations partner with third-party vendors who are experts in these arenas and can advise you on the best options. 

Initially, this might seem to be involving a high upfront investment, however in the long-run, you would reap huge benefits, with the realization of your business digitization plans.

Migrating to modern cloud-based software

Most initiatives designed to digitize your business involve the adoption and implementation of a cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning software (ERP), could be the entire suite spanning all business functions or a select few such as only Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Human Capital Management (HCM) or so.  The core idea behind going for such software implementations is that they ensure organization-wide or function-wide integration of resources and ensure all data records are stored in a central repository.

Some of these applications have the potential to seamlessly integrate with your existing software, if you are using any, in which case you may not even do away with your current systems. These software offer several business-specific or function-specific features, which once implemented could obviate the need for mundane tasks, earlier performed by employees or users manually.

Based on your budget and requirements, you could opt for other similar software for say, accounting or supply chain processes etc. 

In most cases, you might need to allocate the task of implementing these ERP/CRM software to specialized third-party vendors, as the process involves considerable time and understanding technicalities of various systems and interfaces.

Spending judiciously on technology

It is quite natural that with so many technologies proliferating in the market, businesses are tempted to make hasty decisions and start investing in new applications. Firstly, discuss with your business stakeholders and IT team and determine the exact requirements. Involve employees from all levels in discussions and understand the problems they are currently facing. Does the new technology you plan to implement solve their problems? In addition, does it offer any other incentives or is a mere single problem-solver? Compute the returns you would gain as against the time spent and time taken to reap the benefits. 

Sometimes, new technologies might require you to completely do away with your legacy systems. Or else, others might offer the option of designing an interface through technical integrations connecting your legacy system to the new application which would work seamlessly. You must involve your internal IT team with the external vendors to better understand the scenarios and come to a conclusion.

Encouraging the use of office apps

To successfully digitize your business, organization-wide support and adoption of digital practices is essential. As a first step towards this, you must encourage employees to use digital software such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Slack for virtual meets. Likewise, office collaboration tools such as Trello, Dropbox and OneDrive should be used internally. This would inculcate and foster a ‘digitalized culture’.

Reliance on real-time business intelligence

In the digitized landscape, data is the core element. To digitize your business, data-driven business practices should be encouraged. It makes more sense if business decisions are data-driven, imparting a higher degree of transparency and credibility. In that case, real-time data from business intelligence (BI) systems proves highly productive. This would also considerably reduce the time and effort spent on extracting large reports, filtering and sorting them and so on.

There is a plethora of software capable of achieving this – Tableau, Sisense, Microsoft Power BI and more. These systems simplify the task of obtaining data-driven insights and also help in effective data visualizations through awesome dashboards and charts.

Reviewing Customer Feedback

Any initiative is considered complete and successful only when your end users – customers and employees are happy. It is a vital aspect of implementation programs to have regular feedback gathering mechanisms in place. Customers, including your employees, are the ultimate users of these software applications. You must conduct pulse surveys and personalized feedback methods to get an insight into what your employees and customers feel about the new change. It is of prime importance that digitized business imparts an amazing and rewarding experience to the customers.

Technology is evolving newer ways of working and businesses need to embrace them. Today, business digitalization is not a trend rather a mandate for most industries. To digitize your business, certain steps such as – formulating a strategy, planning, migrating to cloud, offering mobile support, partnering with third-party vendors, adopting business intelligence for data-driven decisions and most important, reviewing customer feedback on the digitized business must be followed. These constitute a broad framework, however further processes might be required, depending on your organization or business landscape.