Digital transformation is a hot buzzword these days. And, like all buzzwords, digital transformation is often misunderstood. People rarely appreciate what it takes to truly digitally transform their organization. But there are some quick-win concepts you can master if you take the plunge to help your organization digitally transform.
Four quick-win tips for digital transformation:
- Focus on process rather than technology.
- Center digital transformation efforts on the end user.
- Prioritize initiatives by expected return-on-investment.
- Consider both internal and external impacts when deciding how to measure success.
Tip #1: Focus on process over technology.
There’s no shortage of technology (and technology providers) who will try to sell you services they say can help you achieve your digital transformation goals. But if you fail to think beyond technology, your digital transformation efforts will be less than optimal. There are two reasons for this.
First, the technology capability landscape involved in digital transformation is incredibly varied. There are nearly a dozen domains involved in even the most basic digital transformation:
- Business process management
- Web content management
- Enterprise content management
- Forms management
- Enterprise data management
- Print and mail
- Knowledge management
It’s a losing battle to find a one-size-fits-all provider to address even some of these requirements. To succeed, you need to realize that digital transformation is bigger than any one single technology.
Secondly, how a technology is implemented is just as important as the technology itself. Without a firm grasp of the business processes you’re trying to transform, technology will be less than effective.
Tip #2: Center digital transformation efforts on the end-user.
There’s a near ubiquity of end-user focus in technology initiatives these days. But the real, actual appreciation of end-user needs is as rare (and as difficult to attain) as ever. It’s critical to approach the process you want to digitally transform from an end-user perspective, rather than an operational one.
For example, if a property and casualty insurer wants to create an application for submitting homeowners’ insurance claims, the wrong way to do so would be to start from the current process. Let’s say the insured person has a flood, contacts his broker, fills out paperwork and submits documentation to get his claim approved. This simply turns a current, old school process into an app that, in spite of removing most of the paper from the process, leaves the experience for the end-user much the same as it was before.
Instead, our hypothetical insurer should consider what a typical policy holder is looking for when he or she has a flood:
- They want to be safe. (Should they wade into the water in their basement to save their belongings?)
- They want to find a service provider to begin the clean up and repair process (preferably a provider who is covered by their insurer).
- They want to kick off the claims process as quickly as possible.
Simply digitizing the existing process typically fails to achieve these goals.
It could be different. The insurer could provide an app that helps a homeowner in the middle of a flood. The information offered on the app could guide homeowners to:
- Know what they can safely do and not do to deal with the incident. (For instance, "If the water is more than 18 inches deep, don’t wade into your basement or you could get electrocuted."),
- Understand which service providers are pre-approved for covered services, and
- Submit the results of both of these interactions, as well as any others behind the scenes, to streamline the claims process.
Given the ubiquity of geographic information system location data and other personal data collection mechanisms, the use of a “respond to a flood” app should help the insurer help its clients stay safe, deal with their incidents, and collect the data the insurer needs—seamlessly.
Tip #3: Prioritize initiatives by expected return-on-investment.
Just about any business process can be digitally transformed. But that doesn’t mean an organization should digitally transform every process. An organization should carefully consider the return on investment of any digital transformation effort. Otherwise, the organizational support and effort will be in short supply. And that will limit overall success.
Remember to focus relentlessly on the dollars and cents of your digital transformation efforts. “Going digital”—as appealing as that may sound—is not sufficient to get most organizations to support digitization efforts over the long haul.
Tip #4: Consider both internal and external impacts when deciding how to measure success.
It’s far more difficult to develop a strong ROI without solid metrics. It’s critical to measure where you are with your processes today before you digitally transform them. There are two major types of metrics to consider:
- Inward looking—focusing on the cost and effort of operations
- Outward looking—focusing on the impact to end-user engagement and market share
Even if you can’t collect these kinds of metrics, which is not uncommon, you can at least project what metrics indicate digital transformation success and use these as your North Star to measure your digital transformation efforts.
Typically, some combination of inward looking and outward looking metrics do the trick. For instance, you might look at back office staff reduced, the number of customers using a claims app, poorly maintained claims documents and the number of claims submitted through an app. So, no matter the process, find a combination of outward and inward metrics to measure success.
Together these 4 tips can help you get beyond the digital transformation buzz.
Although digital transformation is far more complicated than this post can address, hopefully the four steps above will give you a good introduction—and an idea of where to start putting true digital transformation into action at your organization.
The process is long, difficult and expensive. But ultimately a successful digital transformation gives your organization what it needs to compete effectively and provide a superior experience to your customers.
A version of this post originally appeared in CMSWire.