Digital transformation is really a cultural shift in how you view and operate your business. It changes how you operate your business, so the focus is on constantly challenging how things are being done.
The real change in mindset when it comes to “digital transformation” is in embracing experimentation and becoming comfortable with failure.
Digital transformation is the buzz-phrase of the moment that means many things. It can be something as big as transforming the movie rental business from physical locations and physical media to an on-demand digital experience that creates convenience for the customer. Or, it can be as simple as giving your customers the ability to order their coffee before they arrive so that is ready when they arrive. The heart of both transformations is creating a better customer experience.
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How can you bring digital transformation to your business?
Many businesses are running disconnected, inefficient and inflexible systems. Business has grown and adapted until they discover they have a financial system to manage the finances, another software to run the web store and then another for the POS. How does your web store know your inventory levels? How does your financial system know how much you sold to whom? Digital transformation is taking these disparate systems and creating one, integrated system that improves both customer experience and employee experience.
Here are some of the benefits of this transformation:
- Eliminating manual input into two systems
- Accurate inventory counts and reduction of hours spent on physical counts
- Increasing employee productivity
- Increasing employee satisfaction
- Increasing the number of orders shipped per day
- Grow the business without needing to add additional staff
Additionally, with a tightly integrated system you gain insights into sales without extracting data from multiple systems then combining that data to create reports.
What other things could you change to improve customer experience? For companies that go out to the customer’s location, one digital transformation you can offer is texting the customer to advise them your service technician in on they way. Another transformation is giving the customer the ability to pay for the service before the technician leaves. Or, let’s focus on customer satisfaction and automatically send them an after-service satisfaction survey. A digitally transformed business will be able to trigger sending the survey as soon as the technician completes the work.
If McKinsey finds the 50% of the activities people are paid to do could be automated using currently demonstrated technologies, there’s a huge return on investment available. Finding another ROI this high is difficult.
Every business I encounter these days has the same complaint: they can’t find and retain enough people. The easy win is to focus your digital transformation on automating as much work as you can then you will be able to repurpose the people you can find to do higher value work that is customer focused. When you do this the generation that has come of age in the digital world will be happier working with you.
You will be better at retaining staff and they will be more productive
What repetitive tasks can you eliminate from your business? Here are some examples:
- Data Collection: Eliminate human error and manual data entry by automatically collecting, uploading, or synching data into a system of record
- Approvals: Become more efficient by automating approvals, sign-offs and confirmation requests
- Updates: Reduce wasted time by automatically providing status updates and other information
Automating these tasks will reduce wasted time, eliminate human error and recover hours lost to manual, repetitive tasks. Think of it this way: If employees don’t need to complete so many mindless tasks, they are free to focus on more creative work and generating new ideas to make the business better. Using automation to give staff more time to be creative may lead to greater innovation.
What will your staff do with the extra time? They will be spending their time doing work that is more valuable to the business. They will also be spending more time on the interesting and rewarding aspects of their jobs. This sounds like a win all around.
What will your staff do with the extra time? They will be spending their time doing work that is more valuable to the business.
How to Start
Good digital transformation strategies focus on incremental changes over massive unwieldy make or break changes that come with large risks. You could lay out a grand plan with a defined end goal, but the world is transforming fast. Before you reach the goal, you might find the goal posts have moved.
Another option that has less risk and greater flexibility is to begin with a foundation that is open, flexible and integrated. The foundation of a digital transformation is implementing modern cloud ERP technology that automates your business processes and provides real-time data, in-depth data analysis, and mobility. The technology also, and perhaps most importantly, allows you to integrate with their ERP’s modules with other software.
Traditionally, ERP systems were sold as a way to implement best practices for business management. All was well until business owners realized their ability to be responsive to their customers, suppliers and employees (not to mention market changes) means they need something that would enable them to adapt to these constantly changing dynamics. They are realizing they need an ERP system that will adapt (IDC-Infographic-Digital-Transformation-Requires-an-Adaptable-Platform.pdf Link) with their business and their market.
Why an adaptable platform is important?
The same workflow won’t work every business. Nor will the same implementation will not work for every business. All companies, regardless of industry want the ability to customize their business processes to meet their unique needs instead of changing their processes to meet the requirements of their ERP system. Most have now learned they need to be able use multiple software solutions and integrate those with their ERP system to create a single source of the truth. Their business needs to be adaptable and connected and this is where a modern could-based ERP system shines.
A cloud-based ERP system is the foundation of digital transformation into a business that can adapt. Because no individual ERP system can be everything to every business, the ability to easily integrate with multiple best-of-breed cloud solutions using a cloud ERP’s open, adaptable platform is the key to extending functionality and being agile.
What is an adaptable platform?
An adaptable platform is software that is easily accessible, versatile and easily customized. It is built with the best cloud and mobile technology that enables seamless integration with any current or future cloud application your business needs to operate and grow successfully. An adaptable platform allows your business to adjust and conditions and the competitive environment change. It gives you options.
The adaptable platform difference
1. Unlimited applications
A modern, adaptable cloud ERP system allows you to integrate with the other cloud application you need when you need them.
2. Unlimited users
The most common licensing model for ERP vendors is to charge based on the number of concurrent users. Some charge you based on the number of named users.
Let’s say you have three people in your finance department. In theory, only those three can use the software. To overcome this barrier, businesses often allow people to share the named user’s ID and login but that causes you to lose the ability to have a transaction log that allows you to audit who did what.
And, as your business grows beyond those three employees, you will want everyone in the organization, as well as some who are outside the organization (such as customers and supplier partners) to have access to the information they need. That’s the efficient way to prevent process bottlenecks and delays.
An adaptable platform allows for unlimited users and the ability to track user activity.
3. Unlimited mobility
Adaptability today means working anywhere, any time you need or want. You should be able to review alerts with your tablet or submit an expense report from your mobile phone no matter where you are. And, you don’t want to have to use separate applications that need to be integrated.
Unlimited mobility allows you to access all your data wherever you are whenever you need it.
4. Unlimited information
The right cloud ERP software is a platform to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time. An adaptable cloud ERP solution has a workflow engine that can present approvals to the right people at the right time, even when someone is on vacation: does it send the approval to the next level person to take care of it?
Getting access to the information in your ERP software (querying the database for example) should happen without needing to use programming languages. You should also be able to get information from other systems and combine them into one location to help you make quick, accurate decisions and address problems as they arise.
5. Unlimited Dashboards
Most people in your organization do different jobs so one dashboard will not meet the needs of everyone. You will want multiple dashboards to meet the needs to multiple user roles. The people in purchasing need something different from the people in the warehouse. And they need something different from the executive team. With an adaptable platform these dashboards can be created with an assembly of already created widgets and queries and presented to you when you log in.
And, if a key performance indicator exceeds a specified limit the platform should send an alert via email or text message.
6. Unlimited interoperability
An adaptable platform is not an island in the ocean. It shares information with other applications through open APIs and seamless integrations. The solution you choose must be able to seamlessly integrate with the other applications you need for your business.
In the end, it’s all about creating a platform to support your digital transformation. If all you want to do is the same thing you are doing and have been doing anything will work. But, if you want to be able to embrace the rapidly changing world you must be able to adapt.
You will need a cloud-based ERP solution based on an adaptable platform with an open architecture that uses standard web technologies and development languages to help you easily create a bridge between your system of record (your ERP System) and all the cloud applications you need to run your business. An agile, cohesive, connected and adaptable digital business is the result.
You may find this article about digital transformation helpful.
Contact us today and we will meet with you to discuss how your business can be transformed.