In the last year or two, there has been a lot of discussion about digital enterprises. Digitalization has brought sweeping changes to the "business as usual" model to which many enterprises have grown accustomed, and it has blurred the lines that have defined organizations as service providers, manufacturers or logistics companies -- because digital enterprises are typically a little of each. Furthermore, although the evolution to a digital enterprise can be challenging, it is not a change that has a finite end -- technology will continue to advance, and organizations will need to continuously adapt to new methods, new platforms and new software.
First, Enlist Support
If you are planning to transform your organization to a digital enterprise, the first step on your journey is to accept that you will need to rid yourself of stovepiped systems and manual processes. You will need to mobilize your IT, empower your employees and enhance your customers' experience. Many of the changes needed will require the support of upper-level management, including your CEO, CFO and CMO. The move cannot be strictly an IT solution. Once you have secured the support you will need to transform your organization into a digital enterprise, you can begin the actual work.
Evaluate Your Current Situation and Define Your Vision
You need to take a long, hard look at where your company is at the moment. Examine the "big picture" before focusing on details. What areas are having the biggest impact on your productivity or profitability? Is it your failure to provide customers with the ability to access your site on any mobile device, or the limits placed on your field personnel? Jot down all of the areas that you feel can be improved through digitalization.
Next, define how the move to a digital enterprise will solve the issues and benefit the organization. Will the move be more beneficial to your marketing department or your field services manager? Will your customers or your customer service representatives derive the greater benefit? Do you expect to increase revenue or profitability? If you cannot articulate a clear, concise vision or determine how becoming a digital enterprise helps achieve your business goals, you might need to spend a bit more time conducting research.
Map Your Journey
A digital enterprise leverages all available technology to create a cohesive organization. Your particular journey will depend on precisely where your organization is at the moment. Typically, a move to digitalization involves:
- Mobile: Websites and apps should be optimized to perform on any device using any platform.
- Cloud: From data storage to customer-centric marketing apps, the cloud offers freedom from the constraints of on-premises operations. Employees can work from wherever they happen to be, hardware purchases are typically reduced and managers can access the information they need the moment they need it.
- Content Management System: A CMS is an excellent choice to place in the cloud. However, the most important feature of a CMS is to have one, whether it is hosted in the cloud or on your own servers. Eliminate paper documents, such as specifications, white papers, troubleshooting solutions, warranties and owner's manuals. Digitize everything you possibly can, even if it means scanning in certain documents.
- Cutting-Edge Technology: Evaluate whether new technology, such as iBeacons, kiosks, wearable tech and augmented reality, are appropriate for your enterprise. Not all businesses have a need for these solutions -- at least, not yet -- but if you do, you need to consider them as part of your move to becoming a digital enterprise.
Never Lose Sight of Your Customer
Being a digital enterprise has a number of benefits, but if you lost sight of what your customers need and want, the transition can be a futile gesture. One thing you absolutely cannot do is betray your customers' trust. This means that you must ensure that their data is secure at every point they interact with your company.
Never Stop Innovating
The very concept of a digital enterprise is relatively new, and the definition of what it takes to be considered "digital" is likely to change frequently. Be willing to "think outside the box" and tailor innovative solutions that work for your enterprise. Do not accept "one-size-fits-all" or "cookie-cutter" solutions just because they have been successful in a completely different industry. Remember that being a digital enterprise is a journey that has no fixed destination.