Image search results for “digital transformation” look something like an Instagram feed from one of Saturn’s rings. Beams of abstract light. A finger headed toward a floating touchscreen. The glow of innovation across the abyss. The pitfall here is that attempts to look futuristic can end up looking dated—what’s meant to suggest a 2050 tech breakthrough reads as an ’80s laser background. And that close visual proximity between past and future reveals an interesting tension at the heart of digital transformation in business:
We are not all in the same digital present. What looks transformative to one company is already antiquated to another.
Thinking about digital transformation at all is, to a degree, an exercise in futility, because when done right, it’s an un-thinking. How could every area of your business run more efficiently—and, more importantly, how could you deliver better experiences to your customers—if digitized processes were integrated with legacy, paper-based systems (or even replaced them)? This is not the same as problem-solving. Digital transformation can’t assume a problem, because a customer routinely signing a paper check every month might not have one. An employee handling your payment processing system isn’t necessarily asking how to make it better.
Digital transformation is readiness, reimagination, integration, and experimentation. It offers your customers value and your business momentum. A single image can’t hold it. So instead, what does it look like in practice?
It looks like a piece of paper. For credit unions and banks, the roadmap to digitization has a very obvious first stop—getting more members and customers to sign up for eStatements instead of paper statements. What’s one way to do that? By using a piece of paper—the statement itself or an envelope—to incentivize them. A circular bit of logic that works.
It looks like an email list. A more robust email database may not sound like a revolution. But for, let’s say, a property management company looking to reach their homeowners? An email list is a powerful trigger; it cracks open new campaign possibilities. The list itself is not the digital transformation—what the list empowers you to do next is.
It looks like a payment portal. We often talk about the importance of enabling customers to pay when, how, and where they want. But this approach needs to reconcile on the other side with the places accepting those payments. Take a county tax office as an example. The administrators there already collect both traditional and digital forms of payment from taxpayers. What can be transformative for their office is having all collections, reconciliations, and reporting happen through one portal. This eliminates multiple-vendor management while allowing for payment freedom on the taxpayer side.
It looks like a group of people. All high-fiving. (Kidding.) But it’s the truth: no technology, program, or platform will work without the support and buy-in from employees. Moving away from legacy systems or integrating new digital solutions takes the entire team. Workflows will change; training sessions will be required. Digital transformation is not a technology. It’s a business and customer experience mindset, and it’s powered by people.
Where are you in this journey? We hope that the content above illustrates that it doesn’t matter. We can assess and assist with your digital transformation efforts at the nascent and more advanced stages. And if this is a whole new world for you— if the word “digital” itself sounds as far away as Saturn—we can start by defining what digital transformation means for your business. No laser beams, just laser focus.