Digital shift

The Digital Shift Imperative: Transform or Fall Behind

Why is a digital shift so necessary for the modern organization?

Most of us recognize that digital disruption and change are widespread in today’s business world.


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Many of us also realize that digital transformation is affecting the very structure of the global economy.

Yet there are still too many businesses that are failing to adapt.

Below, we’ll explore what digital shifts look like, why it is imperative to invest in change now, and where to begin.

The Digital Shift Imperative: Adapt or Fall Behind

One only need look at a few statistics to understand the vast impact of technology on today’s world:

  • According to Our World in Data, around 1990, only 0.78% of the US population had the internet, but by 2016, that figure had risen to 76%
  • In that same time period, mobile subscription numbers per 100 people went from 2.09 to 122.88
  • Between 2008 and 2018, Facebook usage increased from 100 million to 2.26 billion

These examples that demonstrate the massive spike in technology usage that has occurred over the past several decades.

Many of us are also familiar with the disruptive impact of major companies such as Amazon, Netflix, and Google.

A few decades ago, these companies did not exist. Today, however, they are among the world’s most valuable.

The effects of digital transformation, of course, are not relegated to a few large companies.

Digital changes such as these affect companies of every size and have become necessary in order to participate in the modern economy.

Consider the impact of Amazon – traditional bookstore chains, such as Borders, have gone bankrupt because they failed to adapt to Amazon’s revolutionary business model. And Amazon Web Services (AWS) tripled its profits in 2020 as companies around the world migrated to the cloud, due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Likewise, Microsoft’s remote office tools have seen explosive growth in 2020, as companies made the mandatory shift to online working.

The above are just a few examples of why a digital shift has become so essential for the contemporary organization.

Below, we’ll learn how to think about such shifts from a business perspective.

Essential Concepts in Digital Transformation

In the business world, the shift to digital tools and processes is often called digitization, digitalization, or digital transformation.

Before investing in digital shifts such as these, though, it is crucial to understand how these terms differ and which terms are commonly used in the industry.

Here are a few must-know terms and their meanings:

Digitization

Digitization refers to the use of digital tools to perform processes that were traditionally done in analog.

Two examples include the use of email versus fax or the use of digital records instead of paper records.

Digital transformation

Digital transformation means using technology to enact a fundamental change in the way a business operates or creates value.

It can also refer to the use of technology to improve business performance, effectiveness, or efficiency.

Digital maturity

Digital maturity refers to an organization’s digital capabilities.

The more digitally mature an organization is, the more fully it can make use of its technology.

This metric, it must be noted, doesn’t just include tools, but also processes, employee skills, and other factors that may impact the organization’s overall digital capabilities.

Digital adoption

Digital adoption means the state where users are leveraging technology to its fullest extent and for its intended purpose.

This process has become a core part of the modern business, whether or not those businesses are actively undergoing strategic digital transformation.

Understanding concepts such as these is the first step towards initiating a digital shift.

Once they are understood, it will be possible to create a digital transformation strategy and roadmap, as we will discuss below.

Keys to Successful Digital Change

Digital shifts should be built around key areas such as:

Digital strategy

Digital technology, as we saw above, has disrupted the global economy and it will continue to do so for some time.

In fact, the innovative use of technology is itself a source of competitive advantage.

This is not to say that every company must become an innovative disruptor in order to survive.

However, every business should have a digital component to its overall business strategy.

That digital strategy will then guide and dictate decisions related to digital transformation efforts.

Digital tools

Once the digital strategy is decided upon, business leaders, such as CIOs and relevant department heads, will choose the appropriate digital tools.

These include tools such as:

  • IT infrastructure, such as cloud computing and storage
  • Software platforms, such as CRM platforms or the MS Office suite
  • Digital training software, such as digital adoption platforms (DAPs)

Alongside those tools, it will be necessary to redesign business processes to meet the aims of the overall digital strategy.

At the same time, however, it is necessary to ensure that these tools are integrated seamlessly into the work environment, which is where digital adoption programs come in.

The digital adoption program

If employees lack skills, they won’t be able to make use of new tools – and, as a result, digital transformation efforts will suffer.

Digital adoption efforts overcome these issues by streamlining the implementation and usage of new software.

Among other things, digital adoption strategies are designed to streamline:

  • Software onboarding
  • Digital training
  • Technical support and long-term user support

Since digital shifts depend so heavily on digital adoption, it is essential to create a structured adoption plan and make use of modern training tools, such as digital adoption platforms.

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