According to a Harvard Business Review article, many business leaders are game for plunging their companies into the digital world but aren't sure how. Furthermore, they also want to be considered digital leaders. The only problem is that most of them are "uncertain about what that means beyond buying the latest IT system." So, although the terms digitization and digital leaders may be tossed around as buzzwords, ambivalence exists about what that really means. Obviously, a company will need the newest digital technology (assets) in order to transform the current company to one that is digitized. However, digital assets are only one part of the formula. The use of digital must:
- Enhance workplace productivity
- Engage consumers
- Maximize B2B contacts
Business leaders who maximize digital assets are the ones who will see results. It's not enough to have the latest in IT technology, computers, and so on. Leaders must garner maximum efficiency from these assets. The research indicates that business leaders who evolve to incorporate digital assets as well as a digital workplace, see a greater growth in productivity and profit margins. This alone is a motivating reason for business leaders to acquire the digital skills necessary to convert their company to digital. How can leaders know if they are using digital effectively? What does it really mean to be a digital leader? The Harvard Business Review sheds some light on this topic by analyzing the topic in three core areas:
- Digital assets - this refers to your IT, computers, software, etc.
- Digital usage - this refers to the company's employment of digital technology.
- Digital workers - this refers to the worker's ability to use and access technology at the workplace.
The research indicates business leaders who come out on top in the latter two (digital usage and digital workers) will have the most transformative digitized workplace.
Digital usage refers to a company's implementation of digital means to communicate with customers and suppliers. It's great to have all the necessary equipment, but is the company engaging customers digitally through the use of that equipment? In other words, is it being used to its fullest? Are business leaders using social media and digital marketing to promote the company? Do they provide customers with digital ways to communicate? Customers are often times tech-savvy and require easy methods to make payments, get information, and navigate a company's website. Those who use artificial intelligence, immersive environments, and e-commerce rise to the top of the digital usage spectrum.
Burberry is one example of a company using digital to lead the way in retail. Their mix of digital social media and software innovation pushed them ahead in the market for luxury brands. In 2009, they began a campaign called Art of the Trench. Users could post a picture of themselves wearing their trench, people could respond with likes or comments, and Burberry selected top trench-wearers. These trench donning individuals were featured in a special best pictures page. Not only did this enhance Burberry's brand image, it resulted in a "50 % increase in e-commerce sales." The integration of marketing techniques with that of social media and digital technology made this campaign a huge success.
Another important use of digital technology is enhanced transactions between customers and companies. This seems like an obvious necessity especially when it involves digital payments, but research indicates that not all sectors are up to speed with digital payments. In fact, healthcare, hospitality, retail trade, entertainment, personal services, and more are not using digital in this area as much as other sectors such as technology, media, professional services, and finance. For company's that want to facilitate quicker payments and easy invoicing, then making use of payment apps and programs is essential.
How your employees use digital is perhaps the most relevant to your overall success. Although you may invest in the latest software and IT solutions and even if your business uses digital to market itself, if employees are not using it for everyday tasks, then you hamper productivity. The HBR study discovered that those sectors with highly digitized workforces lead the way. In fact, leading sectors have "workforces that are 13 times more digitally engaged that the rest of the economy." So, why aren't more businesses going in this direction? Here are three challenges businesses face when transitioning to digitized employees.
When businesses introduce digital tools into the workplace, the potential for a changing dynamic is high. In fact, it's almost guaranteed that you will run into some challenges. One unique challenge includes generational differences in using – or even viewing—technology. While it's true that most baby boomers have adapted to technology, they still may have a different approach to marketing and sales strategies than a millennial does. A good business leader finds a way to balance digital technology use with soft skills.
Lack of seamless integration
While many businesses implement digital technologies, it's often sectioned off in its own department, according to HBR. This means instead of putting digital tools in the hands of all workers, businesses specify a certain group of individuals to handle digital transactions. However, customers and suppliers won't receive a seamless experience when interacting with the company. Basic day-to-day operations may lag behind which slows down the business. You must use integrated technological tools in the workplace.
Need for training
Facilitating smooth digital experiences across all departments of a business may mean an investment in training. Simply putting digital tools in employees' hands doesn't mean they will use it to with complete efficiency. Some businesses who have access to the tools have employees still doing things the "long way." To maximize your employees time and effort, training them to use digital technology is critical. A business may need a complete transitioning/training period to get everyone up to speed and on the same page.
Integrating digital technology in the workplace is essential to remaining competitive. As digital technologies transform the business world, leaders must evolve and transform too. Growth means facing the digital challenges head-on through acquiring equipment training employees. To find out more about transforming your business digitally, connect with us today.