Digital transformation defined
Digital transformation is a complete change in the way an organization does business, and involves a shift to using online and other digital technologies for transactions throughout the organization. Digital transformation changes business processes, activities, operations, and infrastructure to use digital technology to more efficiently serve customers, save money, and provide a better customer experience.
What drives digital transformation?
Digital transformation refers to society’s move to digital technology and the impact of those changes. However, the term is largely used to refer to digital business transformation: the process of a business significantly changing its operations to take full advantage of digital technologies.
Organizations are driven to make these changes by consumer demands and expectations, technology improvements, competitive and market forces, and changing regulatory requirements
Transformation requires broad, holistic change
True digital transformation requires evaluating and changing not just one, but multiple aspects of a business. The most effective and beneficial transformations require changes across departments in the organization, at all levels—from the individual worker to the C-suite—and across all the connected business elements, such as processes, activities, and assets.
Why? Because every activity and process that is connected to or impacts the delivery of products and services to customers must be considered a candidate for change. And change includes the assets and technologies used, ways of working, as well as the data that is surfaced and passed on.
Making changes at all these interconnected levels—and applying fresh thinking as you do so—allows you to deliver the kind of relevant, personalized, and timely experiences that customers relish. At its core, that’s what digital transformation is really about.
Digitization is not transformation
Digital transformation isn’t just about digitization, replacing existing paper-based processes with online ones. To truly transform and get the most value from the move to digital, organizations must reevaluate processes with a customer-first approach, working backwards from the customer to invent new, more efficient ways of working while applying a digital-first mentality.
Organizations that undertake substantive digital transformation will reevaluate the way they work and do business—really throwing away the old and starting from scratch. Taking this approach enables you to make more than basic improvements. You will see new opportunities, potential new offerings, new ways to use data, and betters ways of satisfying customers, partners, and internal users.
Start from the customer
In most organizations, digital transformation starts with initiatives in customer-facing areas, such as marketing, sales, or support. As your transformation efforts expand back into operations and internal processes, it’s important that you always continue your analysis with the customer as the starting point.
Ultimately, every part of the business exists to serve its customers. Multiple departments and activities impact the customer experience. That’s one reason true digital transformation is holistic and impacts the entire organization. By beginning every analysis from the customer touchpoint and working backwards to the department and processes that support it, you’ll see how you can improve aspects like data exchange, speed, and technology in a way that ultimately better satisfies your customers.
It’s also important to be forward looking. You need to be in tune with what customers expect now and what they’ll expect soon. For example, much of the current race to change is driven by the customers’ desire to transact from mobile devices. But what changes will the internet of things (IoT) introduce? How will it change the way customers do business? By looking ahead, you can transform now in a way that will support the digital future without requiring another overhaul.
Build for change
That said, you can’t anticipate everything. That’s why the most successful companies use digital business transformation as a way to build for change. Rather than replacing legacy systems with what will eventually become new legacy systems, design so that you can change your processes, assets, and activities quickly to adapt to new requirements. (Don’t forget to consider data collection and analysis as part of your digital transformation. The data you gather allows you to analyze and predict future business and customer needs, so you can make continuous improvements.)
True digital transformation isn’t a one-time task but an ongoing one. Ideally, “transformation” becomes “evolution” and your organization becomes able to adapt and change on an ongoing basis.
The role of digital transaction management
Digital transaction management (DTM) plays a key role in digital transformation. Defined as “A new category of cloud services designed to digitally manage document-based transactions. DTM removes the friction inherent in transactions that involve people, documents, and data to create faster, easier, more convenient, and secure processes.” Moving from paper to digital can reduce errors and increase efficiency, which has the potential to improve revenue. DTM is central to digital transformation, but only one part of the process.
Forrester’s best practices for implementing digital transformation
How and when an organization undertakes digital transformation often depends upon its digital maturity level. Organizations range from those largely unaware of the opportunities and benefits of digital systems to those that are fully embracing digital technology. Once organizations decide not to do things the same old way, most begin with isolated experiments in siloed groups before moving on to a more coordinated, customer-journey driven, and top-down, holistic change. Not surprisingly, organizations at the highest levels of maturity reap the greatest benefits from digital transformation—even when it comes to driving more revenue from their existing assets.
To help understand the most successful approaches to digital transformation, DocuSign commissioned Forrester Consulting to survey 400 decision-makers on their experience implementing successful digital transaction management rollouts. Forrester’s report reveals seven best practices for digital transformation. By using these best practices, organizations can take successful steps to implement digital transaction management solutions and begin their digital transformation.
More and more companies are recognizing the importance of digital transformation and the benefits it brings. Many are undertaking transformation. The process is challenging, because it requires company-wide changes driven by a customer focus. Every company’s path to digital transformation and digital maturity is different—what suits one organization may not suit another. However, using best practices learned by other organizations can help you make a successful transformation.