Everything You Need to Know to Start Your Digital Transformation

While the name sounds intimidating, digital transformation is just finding new ways to evolve your business practices in the digital age. We can help guide you through the process.

We may receive compensation from partners and advertisers whose products appear here. Compensation may impact where products are placed on our site, but editorial opinions, scores, and reviews are independent from, and never influenced by, any advertiser or partner.

Do you feel as if your business is falling behind, and you’re not pulling in the customers like you used to? Perhaps it’s due to outdated business practices, and in order to remain competitive, you have to seek out new digital transformations that’ll appeal to a wider consumer base.

Maybe you haven’t invested in e-commerce, and you’re still relying on brick and mortar sales to make ends meet. Perhaps you’ve already made moves over to e-commerce, but you aren’t pulling in enough traffic to justify your website.

If this sounds familiar, it may be time for a digital transformation.


Overview: What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation is the act of modifying or creating new digital processes within your business to fit with the modern age. These modifications or inventions can be a reaction to the changing market demands or an attempt to get ahead of the curve before market demand hits.

It’s a way to future-proof your business operations.

Luckily for new businesses, you can future-proof your practices from the start, but if you’re already established, chances are you have some transforming to do.


How to execute a digital transformation

Now that you understand what a digital transformation is, I’ve put together a general four-step process to execute that transformation. These steps are open for extrapolation and repetition based on your implementation and deployment needs. They are meant to provide a foundational digital transformation strategy.

Step 1: Evaluate the trends surrounding a business practice

Once you’ve identified an issue, it’s important to investigate the underlying problems and evaluate the current digital technology trends to mitigate it.

For example, if your new e-commerce website isn’t driving traffic, perhaps you aren’t marketing your business in the right places (or you haven’t invested in any digital marketing at all). The best way to evaluate these trends is to see where you competitors are succeeding and what they are doing to drive that success.

Now that you’ve identified these technology gaps, research these practices and learn all you can about implementing a similar strategy.

Read case studies on using this new technology, speak to vendors about what this technology can do for your business, and seek out opinions from subject matter experts on emerging technologies, which you’re already doing since you’re here at The Blueprint.

Step 2: Identify your objectives and formulate a plan

Next, map out the objectives you want to accomplish with this digital transformation. Are you hoping to improve customer engagement by streamlining your service process with a new CRM software platform?

Maybe you’re hoping to drive more traffic to your website by adopting a social media marketing strategy and using social media management software to control and measure that success. Whatever you hope to accomplish, make sure you identify those objectives by creating SMART goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-related

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve suggested using SMART goals while writing for The Blueprint, but I’ve seen far too many worthwhile projects and objectives squandered by lofty aspirations, with too little accountability. Nail down your objectives with clear details.

Once you’ve identified your goals, you’re ready to plan out your implementation and rollout strategy for your digital transformation. You know the technology, and now it’s time to bring subject matter experts on board to help you plan out this effort.

Making changes within your business structure won’t be easy. It will require time and insight to plan it out. If you want a more in-depth explanation of change management planning, make sure you read this linked piece by my Blueprint colleague, Robert Izquierdo.

If you’re a smaller business, perhaps hiring one or two new experienced team members meant to handle this new technology is the way to go. If you have money to spare, you can look into consultants to help you roll out this new technology while your new team deals with the hands-on work.

If you’re looking to deploy a new software, most vendors are more than happy to help you plan out a cohesive implementation plan as well as help you with installation, configuration, and onboarding.

Step 3: Begin deployment of new technologies

We’ve finally arrived at the fun part. After your extensive research, planning, and consulting, it’s time to begin deploying your new technology. Your deployment strategy is completely up to you, but I prefer to handle large tasks such as these in easy-to-digest iterations by using the scrum project management methodology.

Scrum is a form of agile project management that prioritizes iterative development, feedback, and adjustment based on the needs of the business and your teams through short, two-week sprints.

This is perfect for large projects such as digital transformations because it’s not possible to foresee every potential issue that might arise. The ability to adjust and pivot as issues come up is very important to the success of your implementation.

Step 4: Evaluate effects of deployment and adjust if necessary

This is where the scrum methodology will really come in handy, since the iterative process will allow for consistent evaluations of the deployment and quick adjustments when needed.

Using this process, you’ll be able to solicit feedback from your consultants, possible vendors, and relevant teams to figure out what’s working, what’s not, and how the deployment can improve.

These iterations also allow for easy check-ins for tasks completed, how long certain implementations took, and what isn’t moving forward in the process. Typically these subjects are discussed during retrospective meetings after concluding a two-week sprint.

For example, two weeks after implementing a marketing automation tool, your retrospective meeting might reveal certain materials perform better with your audiences than others.

Rather than wait for someone to bring this news to you whenever they get the chance, the open opportunity to discuss pain points during a retrospective meeting means problems are addressed and solved faster.

This doesn’t mean all your efforts should be introduced and cut within a two week period. You can plan out the duration of certain technology implementations for as long as you wish. These two-week sprints are just meant to create a space for discussion, evaluation, and change within regular intervals.


Digital transformation examples

While I’m sure you already have a few ideas in your mind of what constitutes a digital transformation, here are a few examples to help solidify the concept.

1. Moving from print advertising to social media marketing

While many businesses have already begun making this transition from print to digital, some have only put forward a half-hearted attempt while still relying on print to convey their message. It’s 2020 and time to make the switch from a medium that is dying to one that has the potential for exponential growth.

If you’re looking to up your social media marketing efforts or start completely fresh, make sure you check out some of these top Blueprint software recommendations:

2. Brick-and-mortar to e-commerce

Just like the transition from print to digital, the brick-and-mortar structure for doing business is a declining strategy. While there will always be a need for physical stores, the opportunities for small businesses to grow in this area are shrinking every year, especially with the onset of the Covid pandemic.

That’s why this is the perfect time to invest into an e-commerce strategy that’ll lead to continued growth and less overhead as a bonus.

Just as we have with social media marketing, we’ve reviewed many of the top e-commerce software options on the market today. Here are a few recommendations:

3. Moving from software licensing to subscription services

Not all digital transformations deal with moving from analog to digital. Some digital transformations include moving from one digital solution to another and reshaping your technological business strategy.

One major digital transformation that has reshaped the software industry is the shift from traditional software licensing (one-time purchases of software products) to subscription-based software hosted in the cloud.

This business model allows for quicker software patches, remote capabilities, and easier customer service solutions. This model is the future of software sales as we know it.


We can help you with your digital transformation

If there’s one thing we truly understand at The Blueprint, it’s the digital transformation process. We’re always on the lookout for new technologies, tools, and software solutions to help improve your business processes. These tools will help with everything from executing projects to relationship management.

If you want to stay up to date with everything at The Blueprint, subscribe to our newsletter below and check back regularly for new software updates, business tips, and how-to guides.

Increase Your Sales With 7 Proven Strategies

Every business owner needs to boost their sales. In this detailed report, our experts show you 7 ways to increase cash by using a CRM tool. (It includes a free buyers guide!)

The Motley Fool has a Disclosure Policy. The Author and/or The Motley Fool may have an interest in companies mentioned.