What is digital transformation?
As BDC mentions, digital transformation goes far beyond the new tech gadgets an employer can offer employees. It involves changing the culture of your company by using data and technology to make informed decisions faster and better meet customer needs. This requires, on many levels, adopting a mindset of continuous innovation and quality improvement.
"I myself seem to be having trouble keeping up, since these changes seem to have happened so quickly, but there is a lot of talk about them, as if that is all there is," says Cyril Vulgarides at the outset. Indeed, the paradigm has drastically changed when it comes to digital transformation, if we compare the current situation to what has been the law for the last 20 years. Today, digital transformation is the daily lot of companies. The arrival of the Internet, the rise of ERP, CRM, the disappearance of the CD-ROM and, more recently, of streaming. Since then, everything related to digital transformation seems to be changing so fast. "When it comes to interaction, between users and across companies, it's not wrong to talk about a revolution," he says. Indeed, for Olivier Laquinte, just a few years ago, we were talking more about digital implementation than digital transformation. "I'm thinking in particular of the famous "bug" of the year 2000, which brought about a lot of platform changes in organizations. Companies often have no choice but to organize themselves and use creativity to stay competitive," he says. One of the major elements that contributed to this rapid change is that consumers realized that they personally had access to more powerful technological tools than those they were working with in business. We can think of the use of smartphones versus landlines or fax machines sometimes used within the company. Thus, according to Cyril Vulgarides and Olivier Laquinte, we see above all the change in consumer behavior that has led to a (global) shift towards digital transformation. Their expectations have changed and the pressure has intensified on organizations to adapt... in record time.
Transforming the business model to meet changing needs
It is true that digital transformation emerges first and foremost to meet changing customer needs and expectations. Otherwise, there would be no market and digital transformation itself would be meaningless. According to Talsom, it is important to create a climate for change as well as an action plan divided into steps. In addition, a dedicated change team should be created to guide the process smoothly. Finally, it is important to maintain the culture of change over time and to precisely target the performance indicators expected by these new processes.
Digital transformation is therefore possible for all types of organizations since the goal is always to remain competitive. The two entrepreneurs first mention the change in the way organizations operate. "When technology was democratized in the daily life of individuals, it necessarily forced a reflection and a questioning of the business models of organizations", mentions Olivier Laquinte. Thus, companies had no choice but to do what has been called the "digitization of operations": transforming the business model of companies to meet the changing needs of the entire population. Later, around 2010, came the notion of the employee experience. The new expectations that consumers have developed regarding the products and services they use on a daily basis outside of organizations have been transposed to companies, at the very heart of their structure.
Digital transformation: a term that is still relevant?
"Wouldn't it be more appropriate to avoid talking about digital transformation, but more about the fact that companies are transforming in a world that is now digital? Indeed, it is true to say that companies have been transforming for decades, this is not new. However, as Olivier Laquinte argues, we must not forget that technology has changed the game: the openness to different markets has increased and the speed with which we have migrated to it is impressive. "Technology has created a decompartmentalization of industries," he explains, where GAFAs have helped open the door to competitors from all industries and all corners of the world. So the need for transformation has accelerated. We can think of hundreds of companies that have grown excessively fast and completely changed the rules of the game.
Transforming: a response to a need
Digital transformation is a means to an end, not an end in itself. "For my team and I, when we talk about transformation, it is above all about ensuring that a company is constantly able to generate new value propositions, regardless of the external forces that are exerted on it," says the president of Talsom, a Montreal firm that is an expert in digital transformation and a Technologia partner since 2020.
While remaining aligned with their raison d'être, companies today have no choice but to "reinvent" their processes, review the role of each member of the organization and use data to remain competitive. It is interesting to note that new value propositions can emerge both internally and externally to the organization. More concretely, we have seen our daily lives greatly transformed with the pandemic and the obligation for the vast majority of us to work in virtual and remote mode. The basic question remains the same: how can organizations use these external technologies and changes to improve and transform internally? Essentially, companies are now forced to transform their processes at all levels, or risk... disappearing.
Going digital: how to identify an organization's potential to transform
"To be able to identify the transformation potential of a company and to know where it should prioritize this transformation, the idea is to identify what we call the "transformation path" in order to prioritize the needs by thinking about its business model and comparing it to what is being done outside the organization," says Olivier Laquinte. This implies the importance of taking a step back and projecting ourselves into the future to understand where we could be in the next 5 to 10 years as an organization. By cross-referencing this data, we will be able to target the best areas that need improvement and, more importantly, that have the potential to transform for the good of the business. It will also be necessary to take into account the "employee journey" in order to survey the opinion of the members of this structure and to understand precisely what effect these changes will have in their daily tasks. These steps will become the starting point of a roadmap that the whole organization will have to follow.
The importance of keeping an open mind
Of course, every company can dream of reinventing the next iPhone or finding the Uber-like business model that will disrupt the planet, but we mustn't forget that these companies first and foremost had a well-established culture of constant change and transformation that was precisely conducive to the development of these types of revolution. "Thus, we develop the creative muscle of the organization and change the "mindset" of the company and the individuals who make it up", replies Olivier Laquinte. It is therefore interesting for all organizations to develop an agile culture in order to continue to innovate and to look for future improvement potential within their business activities.
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Going Further:Digital transformation: assessing its relevance to your business
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