February 19, 2021

‘Digital transformation’ - Should we still be talking about it in 2021?

By Kevin South, Head of Digital & CX

By now we all know that digital transformation involves using digital technologies to make changes to various aspects of a business. But many companies are already doing this, and some organisational leaders have become somewhat weary of the term as it has become a buzzword that refers to any kind of innovation in an evolving business environment. 

This skepticism is warranted, but digital technologies can still be used to streamline operations, access new markets, and adapt to changes in customer needs and competitor offerings. Businesses may be approaching transformation in the wrong way, leading to expensive mistakes and digital fatigue. To unlock the power of true digital transformation, leaders need to find ways to put digital first and encourage everyone in a company to start thinking about how they can leverage digital technologies.

That’s why I think we definitely should still be talking about digital transformation, but with a clear understanding of its pitfalls and potential. 

Rome wasn’t built in a day

The business world is awash with stories of companies that have invested millions into fancy new tech that either doesn’t meet expectations or fails when it comes up against reluctant staff and an anti-tech culture. Instead of seeing these failures as signs not to embrace digital, business leaders should use them as cautionary tales that they can learn from.

Going digital requires some experimentation, occasional failures, and an excellent understanding of your current strengths and weaknesses. It won't happen overnight, and gradual progress is often more successful. Being open to and ready for this kind of change is also essential, but it’s still sensible to be aware of the risks.  

Digital critics may struggle to envision the execution of their digital ambitions, or believe that they are too far behind to ever transform. This can lead to the misconception that digital would only be a costly and disruptive overhaul with few benefits, but transformation can easily pay for itself in both increased profits and productivity

The benefits of going digital

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the digital revolution is the decrease in costs and increase in efficiency. Our recent move away from physical workspaces highlighted both the necessity and the benefits of cloud services. More employees have been able to collaborate quickly, easily, and remotely – at relatively little cost or effort from organisations. Partnering with a tech company like SEACOM to manage online operations can enable businesses to reap all the benefits of digital while still being able to focus on their core operations and offerings. 

It won’t always be easy

Businesses will need to overcome some difficult challenges on their digital journeys. As more businesses go digital, differentiating yourself from your competition becomes trickier. ICT trends are constantly changing, and it can be difficult to keep up. 

Businesses also need to understand that transformation strategies aren’t one-size-fits-all. Time and resources need to be invested into re-examining business processes to make sure they work properly before they can be automated or digitised. It is also vital to understand your business and the potential for change that certain technology investments offer. 

But it’ll be worth it

With the challenges of adopting new digital ways of doing things come even greater opportunities. According to Gartner, 56% of CEOs have said that digital improvements have led to an increase in profits. Digital innovations are not only helping businesses find new avenues for success, but they are also changing culture itself. The future of business will belong to those who seize the opportunity to reinvent themselves first – and those that find the right digital partner to help them on their journey.

And that's why digital transformation is still relevant in 2021.