Digital transformation is not just upon us, it's already here. As new and emerging digital technologies continue to change the way we live, work, and communicate, many companies have found themselves struggling to adapt to the new digital reality.
Make no mistake, the confluence of key digital innovations enabling digital transformation is exciting for many reasons. After all, they help you deliver better customer experiences faster, more easily, and more efficiently.
However, the reality is that digital transformation poses a threat to most businesses, including yours. With so many digital tools, platforms, and media competing for customers’ attention, you have to innovate constantly to prevent your offerings from becoming obsolete.
Fail to keep up and it won’t be long before a competitor steals your customers and market share from you.
You want your company to have the edge over the competition? Then you need to transform your company into a digital organization.
Because let’s face it—you have no choice in the matter.
Digital transformation sounds scary. It sounds expensive and too involved. What if it doesn’t work out? What if one small slip-up causes everything you’ve built to come crashing down like blocks of Jenga?
Well, that may actually happen. If you’re doing digital transformation using the traditional top-down approach, that is.
But here’s the thing: we don’t do traditional. We prefer to implement digital transformation from the bottom-up.
Because newsflash: It works like a charm.
Especially when you have low-code on your side (more on that later).
In this post, we’ll talk about the obstacles you may face when doing digital transformation from the top-down, why you might be better off using the bottom-up approach, and how using low-code can help you succeed in your digital transformation efforts.
Step right in!
You can't expect success in any endeavor without being aware of the dangers. If you're going to pull off this digital transformation thing, you have to know what you're getting into.
Here are digital transformation challenges you need to overcome or avoid.
Did you know that 70% of digital transformations fail?
Why is digital transformation so hard to pull off? For starters, you can't just integrate digital solutions into an organization and expect it to magically transform into a digital enterprise. Digital transformation requires a mindset that embraces change, iteration, and adaptive learning cycles, which can be a problem if the organization has become too comfortable doing things a certain way and is held back by bureaucracy.
For digital transformation to work, you have to reexamine and reinvent an organization's existing structures, roles, and hierarchies, which is fine, but may prove difficult when you’re doing them all at once.
Investing in digital transformation is a risky business in a lot of ways. First off, it’s one massive project where so many things can go wrong if you're not careful and don't have a clearly defined strategy.
It bears noting that digital transformation initiatives can impact your organization on two levels: externally (how you communicate with your customers), and internally (internal communications, business processes, company culture).
Simply put, when you throw digital transformation into the equation, there's always the risk of breaking something.
What happens if your employees won't embrace the change? How will that impact company culture? Will automation align with current business processes and logistic goals? What if moving your data to the cloud causes compliance issues with industry regulations and laws? Aren't you making the lives of your IT people harder by forcing them to integrate new tools and processes with legacy systems across the enterprise? And so on.
If your CEO or executives are not fully committed to the cause, your digital transformation is likely to fall flat on its face.
The tricky thing with digital transformation is that no one wants to be that guy who openly opposes it. However, the reality is that there will always be CEOs who are risk-averse and who are beholden to equally risk-averse stakeholders and investors.
As a result, some leaders fake enthusiasm for the initiative during meetings. But when the project moves to the next phase, they end up sabotaging the project in the subtlest of ways. Passive-aggressive behavior becomes the order of the day. Soon enough, the on-and-off farce will play itself out until such time when it becomes convenient for the CEO to completely abandon the project.
Digital maturity is often a slow crawl towards the finish line, especially if you try to do things all at once. This is not surprising considering the numerous end-to-end process adjustments that need to be made across the business. Also coinciding with new technology adoption is the need to invest in digital skills and to retrain existing and incoming employees.
The thing with the top-down approach is that when you do all things at once, you can’t help expecting instantaneous results. Besides, doing a “corporate push” approach prevents employees from taking ownership of their work, making the idea of change sound and feel inorganic. This can result in employee pushback, further delaying the progress of your digital transformation initiatives.
Your organization may have the best AI capabilities or the most robust cloud platform, but if your front-line managers and employees don't have the digital mindset, your digital transformation efforts aren't likely to succeed.
Most companies, especially traditional ones, will find it hard to get their people on board the digital hype train. Traditional business processes, after all, are habit-forming, which in turn creates a fixed mindset among employees over time. Once your people are already "set in their ways," a more radical shift in attitude, mindset, and values is needed to create and cultivate a digital culture.
If you want to rally your team around a vision that's more in line with the new digital reality, don't drop these digital technologies on the organization and leave your employees to fend for themselves. If you want your teams to have a digital mindset, make sure to give them a comprehensive onboarding and training program that will make your technology as compelling to them as they do to your customers.
Thankfully, digital transformation isn't all doom and gloom. Transforming into a digital enterprise is hard, sure, but the right approach can go a long way into weathering the challenges that come with it.
Enter the bottom-up approach of digital transformation.
As we wrote in my recent digital transformation article, digital transformation doesn't have to be this grand project where everything in the organization is brought to a standstill for it to succeed.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to take big risks all at once. You don’t even need to ask for your CEO’s approval. And you don’t have to impose a drastic cultural change across your entire organization to make this work.
The bottom-up approach goes like this: Start small and show everyone that digital transformation works.
In other words, instead of your CEO or executives calling the shots, make your digital transformation start with small and autonomous departments in such a way where they can operate freely outside your organization's silos.
After all, digital transformation should always start with your customers in mind. And who knows customers more than those who are working from the frontlines?
They know first hand how digital technologies are changing customer preferences and how to respond to these changes. More importantly, they know it's their responsibility to understand your target audience and create strategies with them in mind.
You need to empower your customer-facing teams. And what better way to do that than by allowing them to deliver better customer experiences through faster, more flexible technology? At the same time, by leveraging these digital technologies, they can enjoy the agility and the organizational efficiency needed to stay competitive amid existing disruptive forces.
If you ask me, there's no better place to kick off your digital transformation.
Speaking of "faster, more flexible technology," allow me to introduce you to low-code.
Low-Code is a game-changer on many levels, and it sure as heck will be a game-changer if you deploy it in your digital transformation efforts.
“Low-Code” is a smarter approach to build digital experiences and products. It allows you to combine newer technologies to help you build living, breathing digital products. What’s more, it doesn’t require you to write excessive amounts of code, allowing you to focus on the most important code, which in turn helps you create unique applications.
Do you want to get your MVP out there for your users faster, gather user feedback faster, and iterate faster? Low-Code has your back.
And because low-code allows you to create digital solutions efficiently and with ease, you can focus on more important and value-oriented tasks. What’s more, low-code dramatically reduces operational costs by decreasing the resources needed to carry out and finish a development project, allowing you to invest that time and money on building better experiences that give you a huge competitive edge.
But wait, there’s more (sorry, I’ve always wanted to say that)!
What makes low-code development even more of a game-changer is this: It’s capable of combining new and emerging technologies and methodologies, allowing you to create bespoke tech solutions tailored to the specific needs of your users and team. And here is where we always feel different than working with a huge consulting firm like Accenture or Mckinsey: We don’t do a one-size-fits-all approach, we create custom solutions tailored to specific needs.
So, how exactly does low-code accelerate digital transformation?
As you already know by now, customer experience is at the heart of digital transformation. If you want to stand out from the noise, you need to deliver great experiences to users. But you won’t be able to do that if you don’t move fast.
This is why low-code development plays a critical role in your digital transformation. It not only enables you to deliver your products faster and manage your resources better, but it also allows you to deliver experiences tailored to your users’ needs.
And by using low-code code together with a bottom-up approach to digital transformation, you can move faster than ever, innovating at startup speed while optimizing and automating your workflow to enable your business to grow and scale.
Ultimately, companies that don’t implement innovative practices will slowly lose market share as they fall behind in both innovation and operational excellence (like Kodak!). At Refokus we believe that only the dead fish go with the flow, and that’s why we want to help companies bring innovation not only on their products but also on their processes.
True digital transformation starts from the bottom-up. But for that change to cascade seamlessly across your organization, it must start from a place where it empowers employees and can have a significant impact on your customers. By using low-code, you're putting your teams in a much better position to serve your audience. Once the impact of low-code is felt across the organization, it won't take much to get everyone on board.
At Refokus we’ve been using low-code over the last 7 years, even before it had a name. Let us know if you have questions or need help!