Digital transformation has been a popular buzzword for a while, but what is it? Read on to explore how different companies approach their digital transformation journey.
In a previous article, we explored what digital transformation is. We covered topics such as the definition of digital transformation, what it means for businesses, and which institutional departments or areas are affected by it.
(In fact, if you haven’t read it, the article could serve as a good primer on digital transformation.)
Still, just knowing that digital transformation exists or reading about what it is doesn’t paint much of a picture. To truly understand digital transformation, one must see how businesses are pursuing it. What are their strategies? What challenges arise? What are their goals?
The answers are many. Here’s the current state of digital transformation today.
What percentage of companies are actively pursuing digital transformation?
In a way, almost every company is pursuing digital transformation to some extent. Keep in mind that every company’s journey through digital transformation is slightly different.
For example, one business may pursue digital transformation by using Microsoft Office and converting paper files to digital ones to streamline storage space. Another business may bring in software to assist with inventory or project management. Still another might make the jump toward end-to-end enterprise automation.
SMA Technologies conducted a survey of more than 70 companies and found the following:
- Over 50% of survey respondents are unaware of or don’t know if their company is pursuing digital transformation initiatives*
- Roughly 80% of respondents say their company is planning or currently in the process of modernizing legacy hardware*
These data points suggest that there is still confusion over the concept of digital transformation. Most are aware of technology enhancements. And while modernizing tech is a critical part of any organization’s transformation, there’s more to it than that.
*Source: SMA Technologies 2018 State of Automation Survey
How are companies pursuing digital transformation?
Unless a business uses no digital technology whatsoever, deals only with cash, and files their taxes with paper, chances are that they’ve already begun their journey through digital transformation. In that journey, there are two basic phases.
- Embracing the digital age. For many companies, this is where digital transformation starts. Using computers, deploying electronic payment systems, using software instead of blueprints and whiteboards, or even using email to communicate all push a company toward embracing the digital age.
In this phase, companies understand that doing business in the digital age means using the tools of the digital age. They take advantage of the convenience, efficiency, and speed those tools offer.
- Enhancing existing digital systems. For some, this is the only true definition of digital transformation, but we find that a little disingenuous. In this phase, companies have already adopted standard digital tools, but they want to explore the advantages of more robust digital approaches.
Companies who have already embraced the digital age might have several systems managing different aspects of their business. For many of these companies, phase two means consolidation of systems to declutter an ecosystem. Other times, consolidation isn’t enough—integration and automation provide the efficiency and value they need.
Are companies pursuing digital transformation the right way?
There is no uniform “right way” or “wrong way” to undergo digital transformation. Because every company’s needs are different, each company’s success will vary based on how well their digital transformation approach works for them specifically.
The best way to evaluate whether a company is pursuing digital transformation the right way is to see if their solutions are meeting their needs. The wrong partnership or product might not pay off. Half-measures or lack of buy-in hinder performance.
More often, any well-considered approach, whether in-house or with a partner, is likely to get good results.
What challenges do companies face in digital transformation?
Generally speaking, there are two primary challenges that companies face when pursuing digital transformation. The first challenge is risk, and the second is the learning curve.
Any evolution in digital strategy is going to bring with it a little bit of risk. In some cases, there’s a chance that things won’t work as well for a company immediately following a change. More often, digital transformation calls for an adjustment in business processes. That adjustment brings its own risks.
Another challenge that companies face is the learning curve. Those same adjustments to business processes can take time for employees to learn. Educating all members on how to adapt to any new processes is critical.
Ultimately, both primary challenges to digital transformation can be easily overcome. So long as the company culture is aligned toward progress, risk can be easily minimized, and proper education of updated processes can speed along the uptake of new technologies.
How does OpCon address the challenges that companies face?
In digital transformation, the right partner can make the difference. The right partner can take out the risk and help to educate key players. At SMA Technologies, we can do exactly that with our workload automation platform, OpCon.
SMA and OpCon don’t simply provide an automation platform—it’s an automation partnership. Other workload automation vendors have a few standard approaches to automation, and they don’t take into account the unique needs of a business, nor the specifics of their digital ecosystem. SMA’s experts work with directly with you, onsite, to ensure that all the necessary software, applications, and systems are fully integrated into your OpCon environment.
This bespoke approach ensures that unique configurations and individual needs are taken well into consideration. OpCon’s workload automation system is custom-fit for each partner.
Customization reduces risk by making sure that the only noticeable change being made is that workflows get much easier. It also keeps the learning curve low—there’s minimal relearning to do, and OpCon provides explanations for updates to existing workflows.