The phrase “digital transformation” can be misleading. “Digital” suggests that it’s all about technology, and “transformation” suggests that it’s all about change. In reality, digital transformation is at least as much about people as it is about technology and about an organization’s current state as much as where it’s headed.
Successful digital transformation involves finding ways to better serve a changing population so you can continue to improve their lives as the fabric of those lives evolves. In order to do that, of course, you must first understand exactly how you’re impacting their lives today.
That’s why noting the current state of a business is an extremely valuable part of a digital transformation journey. Here, I’ll explain how to realize that value as you engage in digital transformation.
Evaluate Your Current State
You wouldn’t ask for directions without a starting location, and you shouldn’t undertake digital transformation without a clear sense of how you’re currently affecting your users’ lives. How can you do that?
First, acknowledge that, whether or not you have a UX team, your users are having certain experiences. Before attempting any transformation, it’s important to understand what those experiences are.
Crucially, it’s important to understand both what isn’t working and what is, in your product or service and in your internal processes.
(Read more: Where Does Digital Experience Fit into Digital Transformation?)
One truism in the world of user experience is that users compare every experience they have to the best experiences they have. This means your users are likely comparing your brand to the Apples and Amazons and Ubers of the world.
But it doesn’t mean that you have to imitate Apple or Amazon or Uber. That’s good news, because you probably don’t have the resources to! In fact, in many cases, users like niche brands because they intentionally offer experiences that appeal to smaller subsets of the population.
That’s why it’s so important to understand what users currently love about what you do and how you do it. And to do that, you have to…
Listen to Actual Users
Some of this “listening” can take the form of analyzing the various metrics you have that capture how your users engage with your product or service. Nobody opening your emails? Users may be telling you those communications don’t deliver much value.
Similarly, you can look at other digital measurements to see what people are and aren’t using, what questions and complaints come up over and over, etc.
But to understand what your users need, you have to do user research. That is, you have to actually talk to them.
The goal of these conversations is to hear what they’re all about – to learn about their lives and the context in which they use your product. Without understanding that current state, you can’t reasonably make a goal about how you’d like to fit in (i.e., about how you should transform).
Identify Ways to Add Value
Once you understand where you are as an organization and how you currently fit into your users’ lives, you can make decisions about digital transformation much more confidently.
Put differently, when you invest time in evaluating your current state, you’ll be able to make decisions based on insights and data rather than assumptions or instincts.
This has significant implications.
For example, let’s say that your assessment of your current state reveals an internal process that’s needlessly redundant and causes bottlenecks on every project. With that data point, you can confidently decide to streamline that particular process.
When you do, your team is able to turn work around faster and has more time to devote to other, value-adding tasks. In other words, you would save your users – your team – from spending time that doesn’t contribute to their goals.
If there is a task within a process that is redundant, that makes your team (in this case, the users of your digital transformation effort) spend time on things that don’t directly contribute to their goals. For example, this might look like an unnecessary authentication screen for a non-risk transaction. This adds friction to your team’s user experience.
In this way, small changes make transformation possible.
Even better, committing to getting feedback and making small changes on an ongoing basis helps your organization become one that constantly evolves rather than staying stagnant. Because the world and your users will continue to change, this change to the way you operate is one of the most important transformations you can make.
Another key benefit of taking time to measure your current state is that it gives you a credible baseline for measuring ROI. As you see the impact various changes have, you can continue to be confident in deciding which future changes to make.
Digital Transformation Starts Exactly Where You Are
Technology is not a silver bullet for transforming an organization. That’s both good news and bad: on the one hand, it means you can’t just buy some software to solve all your problems. But on the other, it means that, if you devote time to talking with your users, you can find the solutions to the right problems instead of the wrong ones.
The kinds of problems that true digital transformation solves might not involve “technology” in the ways business leaders typically think about it. Digital transformation is about adopting ways of operating that enable businesses to respond to the speed of change in the digital era. Wherever you are now, you can take small steps forward to improve your processes, products, and your users’ lives. And each of those steps can have a resounding impact. We at Apexon would love to help you do that. If you’re interested in hearing more about how we can help, please get in touch.