Digital transformation has forever changed how we work, with businesses across all industries embracing this digital-first mindset to improve operations and deliver maximum value to customers.
It also bought a cultural change, forcing business leaders to get comfortable challenging the status quo.
While clearly not a passing trend you can ignore, digital transformation is also misunderstood.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s more than businesses adding technology to their already sophisticated tech stack. Much more. As an internal ops leader, you need to redefine the entire operational structure to incorporate digitization at the root and ensure better outcomes consistently.
Of course, this isn’t an easy task. It’s also expensive and risky. To illustrate what digital transformation success looks like and how others achieved it, we’ll discuss our favorite examples of digital transformation, helping you master and use digital transformation for your benefit.
But first, the basics.
What is digital transformation?
Digital transformation is the process of building and implementing an effective digital strategy to digitize existing or new business processes and operations with the end goal of delivering more value to customers. It involves integrating digital technologies into all parts of an organization, including products, services and culture.
Note that digital transformation looks different for every company.
While digital transformation does focus on leveraging the opportunities of digital technologies to make a profound change, it’s also a cultural change, which, at times, means walking away from legacy business processes and adopting new practices that are still being defined.
🎓 Related resource: Everything You Need to Build Digital Transformation SOPs
What are the main types of digital transformation?
Your company’s business requirements affect the digital transformation strategy you use, but there are five types of digital transformation you should know about.
1. Business process transformation
Business process innovation focuses on making internal processes more efficient and streamlined.
By undertaking a process transformation, your primary aim is to reduce costs, errors, throughput time and complexity by providing employees access to new technology to perform daily jobs. This includes automating manual processes and collecting and incorporating new data into business decisions to maximize marketing and R&D investments.
Other benefits of business process improvement are improved brand image, customer experience and product and service quality.
2. Business model transformation
Business model transformation aims to change business models to make them more adaptable to the new digital environment, helping companies deliver greater value for customers.
Think: Netflix's switch from mailing DVDs to online streaming helped the company survive in the long run as opposed to Blockbuster who failed to make the transition.
When undertaking business model transformation, you need to focus on innovation and think outside the box. You have to be open to exploring the potential of new ways of doing things, going beyond the industry norms.
3. Domain transformation
Domain transformation occurs when organizations adopt new technologies to redefine their products and services and enter new markets.
Suppose you offer purchase-only machinery. However, to gain access to a segment of customers who may need your goods temporarily, you also start offering your machines for rent. This is your company undergoing a domain transformation.
Growing competition, company leaders looking to diversify the company’s portfolio or introduction of new technology (think: artificial intelligence, internet of things) that make it difficult to continue a current business plan are the most common reasons for domain transformation.
4. Cultural/organizational transformation
A crucial aspect of digital transformation is culture. A strong cultural component significantly contributes to the success of a digital transformation initiative. But, for most organizations, making this transition can be incredibly challenging.
It starts with educating existing staff to help them better understand the potential of new technology and make effective business improvements, facilitating internal collaboration and creating new methods for engaging customers.
Organizations generally undergo a cultural/organizational transformation after they’re acquired or see a change in leadership. Other undesirable circumstances like reputation or loss may also lead to cultural transformation.
5. Cloud transformation
Cloud transformation is all about organizations migrating information systems to cloud computing environments. It takes various shapes, for example, a company can migrate only specific apps, services and data and retain some legacy infrastructure — or move their entire infrastructure to the cloud.
This type of digital transformation is also about ownership. While some organizations leverage the public cloud, others may set up an in-house cloud computing infrastructure, known as a private cloud. Combining the two models to create hybrid cloud management of infrastructure is also possible.
6 successful digital transformation examples for inspiration
Many organizations have undertaken digital transformation initiatives. Here are six real-life examples of digital transformation, successfully tackling the shift from traditional to digital.
1. Coronis Health — Transforming process documentation
Coronis Health is a revenue cycle management company that leverages over 50 apps to support its 1500+ customers in the healthcare niche.
While its operations team is responsible for completing highly specific tasks for both, its analytics team documents these processes for the 10,000+ employees across the Coronis client base to follow. Previously, the teams document these processes manually in Word or PDFs, which was extremely labor-intensive and led to discrepancies across Coronis and its clients.
That’s when Coronis decided to transform its process documentation with Scribe.
The company used Scribe to create a simple, scalable and compliant process documentation solution. Coronis leaders set a precedent that any time their staff was doing something that could be replicated for later use, they should create a scribe. This helped the company set a standard format for process documentation and build a large library of standard operating procedures for employees.
This simple shift helped Coronis:
- Save 10,000 minutes in teamwork.
- See an 18 percent increase in participation and compliance across all operational procedures.
- Realize a 20 percent increase in accuracy for completed tasks.
Coronis could also could now also transfer complex tasks to offshore teams and better ensure patient data never ends up in the process documentation by building a convenient internal approval process with Scribe.
Here’s how Conan Doyle, Vice President of Business Development and Operations sums up his Scribe experience:
“Scribe is able to be our one-stop-shop for all SOP documentation, making it easy for teams to find and follow.“
2. Adobe — Changing business models
Adobe was originally Adobe Systems which sold boxed software.
After the 2008 Depression, the company made a risky decision to transition from a license-based model to a subscription-based model. As part of this initiative, Adobe redefined its service offering, dividing it into three cloud-based solutions: Creative Cloud, Document Cloud and Experience Cloud.
That’s how Adobe became the full-fledged cloud company operating on the SaaS model we know today.
Other than this, the company also underwent an organizational transformation, investing in building an employee-focused work culture, benefits and employer branding. It employed a data-driven operation model to better monitor business health and make informed organizational decisions.
Adobe’s digital transformation happened across the whole organization and redefined the company’s usual way of doing things. But changing its business model and service packages and positioning and embracing a more effective data-driven operation model gave them a substantial competitive advantage over its competitors, making the effort more than worth it.
3. Nike — Modernizing customer experiences
Feeling it was lagging behind in the retail e-commerce space, Nike did a digital transformation of the company’s mindset, supply chain and brand to better connect with its customer base and ramp up sales conversion.
Nike heavily leveraged digital consumer data through the effective use of analytics. It updated its e-commerce strategy, under which it opened concept stores, created more membership opportunities and created stronger digital marketing campaigns.
For example, the company launched a mobile app that helped users choose the best type of shoes based on a leg scan. After a user scanned their feet, the app would create a map of them based on 13 data points. Not only did this improve customer experience, but it also gave the company valuable insights to create better footwear in the future.
Aside from this, Nike also digitized 6,000 footwear materials. This helped its design team to work faster and more efficiently, positively affecting their speed of response to market needs.
4. UPS — Implementing a fleet management tool
Established companies face more difficulties embracing digital transformation, but UPS proves it isn’t always the case. The fact that the company has been operating since 1907 makes its transition even more impressive.
By 2012, UPS was already relying heavily on digital technology, but they decided to make two big changes to transform how the company handled logistics and operations: accelerate delivery processes and introduce real-time package tracking.
To make this happen, UPS built a fleet management tool that uses machine learning to identify and set optimal routes for delivery drivers. This helped drastically increase driver productivity, lower fuel costs and reduce carbon footprint. The company also introduced multiple data-driven systems to improve its internal operations, such as package sorting and loading trucks.
Considering UPS now saves hundreds of millions of dollars every year, this was certainly a great decision.
5. Michelin Solutions — Creating more holistic mobility experiences
Michelin Solutions’ digital transformation initiatives mainly focus on developing new business models, creating personalized relationships with customers and users and improving existing business processes.
As a part of this undertaking, the company shifted its business model from selling tires to a service guarantee performance. The Michelin Solutions team extensively leveraged AI in R&D to enable the digital supply chain, driven through digital manufacturing and predictive maintenance. For example, machine operators had connected bracelets to better assist each other during the manufacturing process.
Aside from this, Michelin Solutions also deployed sophisticated robots to automate clerical tasks and leveraged advanced analytics for data-driven decision-making. Enforcing cultural change and launching small pilots before implementing the change management plan was another solid initiative to realize its digital transformation goals.
6. Microsoft — Proving on-the-go access to end-users
Microsoft is another classic example of successful digital transformation.
Back in the day, the company solely based its power on the Windows operating system sold in BOX and OEM versions, along with the traditionally installed Microsoft Office. But realizing the shift in customer needs, Microsoft decided to stop basing its strategy only on Windows — and this one decision gave the company a new lease on life.
Microsoft prioritized adapting to mobile devices by offering solutions like Office for iPad. It also focused on cloud computing, forming partnerships with popular companies like Dropbox and expanding their OneDrive service. Other collaborations as part of its digital transformation included an open-source software company called Red Hat and Amazon.
Microsoft also introduced more open APIs, which allowed programmers to easily access Microsoft’s software and acquired major products like Minecraft, LinkedIn and GitHub.
All these were significant strides that helped open up new opportunities for Microsoft to better meet market demands in the digital age.
How to kickstart your own digital transformation initiative
Next, let’s discuss how you can undertake digital transformation for your organization.
Developing and implementing digital transformation strategies is no easy feat. If you‘re a novice, you’ll do well to hire experts — but otherwise, you can follow our step-by-step process and kickstart your own digital transformation initiative:
Step 1: Conduct a digital capability assessment
Before you begin a digital transformation initiative, you need to assess and benchmark where your organization currently stands.
Carefully evaluate your current processes and identify pain points. Researching pain points in your target industry is also useful to accurately benchmark against your competitors and stay ahead of the curve. Suppose you plan on reducing your processing time from 15 to ten minutes. But if your competitors are doing it in five minutes, you’ll again fall behind industry standards, rendering your digital marketing efforts irrelevant.
Once you know your pain points, answer the following questions:
- What are the best ways to design for innovation, optimization, agility and skill?
- Does your current digital infrastructure — software, tools and apps — meet future requirements?
- What role will your solution partners play in helping you move forward?
- Do you have the required skills to overcome potential digital transformation challenges?
- Is your company culture ready and willing to adapt to change?
This will help you further refine your organization’s critical pain points and proceed to the next step.
Step 2: Define your vision & set goals
Based on your organization’s digital assessment, build a clear statement around how you’re going to meet the gaps and resolve pain points. Keep your vision simple and align it with the overall company vision.
Think about who (people/teams), what (priorities and content), when (timeframes), why (business outcomes and justifications) and how (relevant KPIs and metrics) will help you move your organization forward.
As for the goals and objectives, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But, generally speaking, you can consider the following:
- Providing optimized customer experiences.
- Increasing efficiencies to reduce costs.
- Improving the ability to track and analyze data for improved insights.
- Consolidating data windows to increase robust decision-making and streamline business workflows.
- Increasing business agility.
- Optimizing internal communication and collaboration.
Be sure your team sees the importance of your vision. Otherwise, they won’t buy into it or act upon it. When sharing your vision, have your change agents concentrate on both the bigger and smaller pictures and accordingly have discussions to increase the chances of your vision resonating.
Step 3: Build a team of innovative thinkers
Find innovative thinkers who can bring fresh perspectives to the table, whether it’s allocating funds toward relevant R&D initiatives or hiring new employees. Having the right individuals on your team will better equip you to explore new growth opportunities and develop creative solutions.
Wondering where to find such individuals? You have three options:
- Provide technology training to existing employees to make them more tech-savvy. If your team members aren’t using technology, they may know someone and could put you in touch with this person for advice or feedback during the development process.
- Look for people who are already familiar with the technology you plan to introduce. For example, if you‘re going to launch a mobile app, talk to someone who is constantly on the phone.
- Partner with vendors who are experts in trying out new strategies and technologies.
Step 4: Analyze your business model
Before brainstorming potential apps and tech solutions, take a step back and consider how your business is currently operating. This will allow you to work backward and develop strategies to take advantage of new growth opportunities.
Let us explain — suppose you own an e-commerce website. Think about how you can deliver unique online shopping experiences and reach out to potential customers digitally. Then think about how you can connect all the dots (the strategies you think will work) seamlessly.
Think of this as developing a comprehensive plan to achieve your business objectives.
Another important thing here is to ensure your business strategy is flexible and adaptable. Consider them as guidelines that can be changed and adapted to over time as new opportunities arise.
Step 5: Build your organization’s digital core
55 percent of organizations building their digital core focus on four capabilities: an app store, experience design (UX), data management and customer support apps, according to Gartner. It’s recommended you also cover these bases when building your digital core.
Here's a list of the main tools you'll need to build a solid digital core:
- Business website: For customers to check out alone more information about your business. If you’re an online seller, you need an e-commerce website that supports a variety of payment methods and has all the necessary security measures in place.
- Social media: A social media presence is incredibly important today, plus we can bet your target customers and prospects are already on social media platforms. Allow them to share their experiences with your brand and connect with you for complaints, suggestions and other needs on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram.
- Mobile capabilities: Have a mobile-optimized website and mobile app to provide improved customer experiences across devices.
- Digital internal tools: You’ll need various tools, including CRM, sales enablement, bus intelligence and marketing automation, to automate business processes and effectively communicate internally and with stakeholders.
- Emerging technologies: Embrace emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, IoT, blockchain and augmented and virtual reality to meet future customer needs and stay up to date with the market and digital transformation trends.
Any standard digital transformation initiative involves making several changes to processes and workflows. Be prepared to capture and share your newly updated processes with Scribe, as well as create comprehensive documentation, thanks to the Pages feature.
Scribe automatically generates visual, step-by-step guides, complete with annotated screenshots and text explaining what’s going on. Simply turn on the screen recorder, go about your workflow and you’ll have a ready-to-share document within seconds. Here’s an example:
Step 6: Make data-driven decisions
With the latest technological advancements, data collection and analysis have never been easier. Still, despite the abundance of data at our fingertips, many organizations continue using outdated and redundant practices, or worse, gut instincts, to make crucial business decisions.
If this is you, you need to change and embrace the power of data-driven decision-making stat.
To start, identify key metrics that can help you measure your organization's digital transformation efforts across different channels. This can be anything from social media engagement to website traffic. Then use tools like Google Analytics to monitor and evaluate them consistently.
Equally important here is to maintain consistency in how you collect and analyze data so that everyone involved in the decision-making process understands what “good” looks like and accurately evaluates potential solutions against the same criteria.
Step 7: Execute your digital transformation initiative
Depending on the type of transformation, you can launch the change all at once or introduce it gradually. Either way, you need to create a detailed timeline and continuously communicate the same with your organization. You may also need to expand your current service offerings.
Consider partnering with expert consultants and service providers to help with the technical aspects of implementation and apply relevant best practices. If needed, you can also reach out to your technology partners to overcome common digital transformation barriers.
Remember, every step you take is a learning experience. Don’t be afraid to give your best effort — you can always adjust and improve as needed per your digital transformation goals.
Step 8: Measure success and continuously innovate
When it comes to implementing digital transformation, success isn’t just about launching new tech, creating new services or innovating your existing business model. It’s also about measuring how each one of the initiatives performs and using the insight to drive continuous improvement and innovation.
Measurement here includes KPIs and analytics, along with other forms of information from data, customers, users and team members. Alongside internal analytics, you can also provide tools like customer dashboards and smartphone apps to help users see how they’re performing.
Successful digital transformation will keep you ahead of the curve
Building a successful digital business model isn’t a one-time event or project; it’s an ongoing process that goes beyond employing the latest technologies. It’s also about reinventing your business for both your and your customer’s benefit.
With our detailed step-by-step execution breakdown, you’re all set to harness the power of digital transformation and successfully update obsolete technology and processes. Stay focused on key initiatives and continuously measure results and your organization will become an excellent example of digital transformation itself.