For most people we’ve talked with, the term digital transformation conjures vague notions of adding technology or more software products somehow into their business. It may include going off paper or building some sort of software for themselves or improving a website. And while those are part of it, it is also so much more.
Digital transformation can be summarized into 4 main categories:
These 4 all lead to and enforce a fifth, Digital Leadership. Some of these categories will overlap or be solved by the same solutions or are connected to a variety of other parts of your business. Let’s look more into each, specific examples of how they apply to your business, and how they lead to digital leadership.
Operations Efficiency can be thought of as the domain that a COO may oversee or middle-management. It is the actual operations of a company- how work orders are fulfilled, managed, money managed, and other areas of the business primed for efficiency.
For example, a painting company has 5 crews painting different projects at different times. At first, these may all be tracked in someone’s head, on paper, or on a spreadsheet. As teams grow and more cogs start to move, the team starts to forget things, show up to the wrong place, get supplies delivered to the wrong area, and more. This painting company would benefit from a digital solution that all team members can access and collaborate on that tracks who’s at what project when, what supplies are needed when and where, and who has which tools. No more forgetting, misplacing, or driving around town trying to find equipment.
This category also includes how different parts of your business connect together. How does the proposal and quote from sales get delivered to the production team to deliver on the offer? How manual vs automatic is that? If you have multiple software tools, could they be connected to take out manual work transferring data between them?
How a team communicates, and how often, is a key indicator of how well that company will do. Both in terms of delivering on clear expectations and building culture and connection, communication is vital. With our fractional CTO for hire service, this is one of the first areas we recommend improving if it is absent in the company as it is an easy win right away. You can also think of company culture and HR in this category.
For example, that same painting team is sending emails and phone calls and texts to each other. Sometimes an email is sent to a whole team and people click “reply” instead of “reply all” and communication gets lost or needlessly repeated. Going back to find where they received an answer is a mess and they waste time trying to find where they receive instructions, directions, and the like. By creating a consistent path of communication that is searchable, such as a project management tool like Nifty or a chat platform like Slack, communication is streamlined and consistent. People know where to find knowledge.
This also applies to standard operation procedures, knowledge bases, onboarding new hires, interview processes, and more.
When making your digital adoption plan, this is a key area that most people think about (though sometimes the only area, unfortunately). How do you customers find you, especially online, and have you optimized the process to convert them into customers? You’d be amazed at how many businesses don’t even have an easy way to buy or contact on their main page. If your clients gets frustrated just trying to figure out how to work with you, you need some digital adoption work ASAP.
That same painting company was part of a franchise. When locals searched for their company, they get taken to a franchise-wide site and struggle to find out how to actually contact the company directly without being taken down a winding road or clicks and links and calls. To start remedying this problem, that company decides that it will create a google business page right away so that it shows up locally with an easy way to be contacted. Next, they launch a simple website for their location specifically. They showcase clear examples of their work, explain how they help their clients, and why it matters that they choose their painting company instead of others. Lastly, and most importantly, they create an easy way to get connected- a leave your number, phone, email, and best time to call form. That Summer they immediately see a 40% increase in revenue entirely from these sources, a 6-figure boost from relatively simple online work.
Taking a longer view, this process also includes search engine optimization (SEO), social media presence, paid ads, referral processes, online ordering/booking, and tracking the data on all of this to know where to improve it.
When working on digital strategy, another area for big wins is sales tech optimization. There is some overlap with the customer conversion component but think of that more as marketing whereas this is sales. Once the customer comes to you- how do you close the sale and receive payment? How much of this is on paper or excel? How much of this are you doing from scratch or manually moving around and how much could be automated? Is it possible for a client to easily pay or sign from their phone/computer or even directly from your website? The easier it is to work with and pay you, the more likely they are to do so.
This same painting company found two big but easy wins here as well. First, they decided to replace their paper proposals with digital ones. Not only did this speed up how much time it took to make a proposal, but it also meant that proposals- which sometimes got lost on job sites or in folders- were now easily shareable and never lost. It also enabled the sales team and owner to close sales deals even while travelling, which felt great for them the first time it happened. Next up, they introduced the ability to take credit cards from their phones on the job site for payment. While they preferred cash and cheque for the $0 in fees, they realized that they were losing jobs to not being able to take credit cards. So while they never offered it first, they gladly took the 3% hit in order to make 97% on a job. Again, they saw an uptick in sales across the board, as well as add-ons from clients with the credit card option being easily available.
Once your company has worked through their digital transformation strategy in all layers of their businesses, the company begins to adopt a digital-first culture. Soon, they start thinking differently. Their customers see that they are easier to work with. They start making more profit on each job while revenue goes up. And then someone on the team gets the idea- what else can technology do for us? This leads to digital leadership.
You may have an idea for a piece of custom software that solves a niche problem in your industry. It immediately adds value to your company, and then you decide to turn it into a product that you can sell. Now your service or product company is also a software company with a new stream of scaleable revenue. Going through this process is where we definitely recommend a fractional CTO for hire to guide that build process and company transition. If done properly, this side of the business can outgrow the original core business. The difference? Unlike tech startups, your company used its own profit and did not have to give away any equity to grow a hugely successful company. Even if you don’t sell that software, you can use your own solutions to be a tech-enabled business. A tech-enabled business can create unique advantages with their own proprietary service or products, using it as a secret-sauce for digital leadership.
If you’re looking for a digital adoption plan, on how to increase revenue, productivity, and profit, the first step is to find a digital advisor or fractional CTO for hire. At StayShure, we offer a free assessment and 12-month digital roadmap. Then, if you like what we propose, we’d be happy to help implement it for you as your CTO for hire.
We post our new articles to our Linkedin page each week- let's connect there!Follow StayShure on Linkedin