Everywhere you turn these days, someone’s talking about digital transformation. The phrase itself has become a “buzzword,” and just about every company in 2017 is either fully digital or at least talking about becoming so.
Working hard, working together
In basic terms, digital transformation in a company involves the application of digital tech across the entire business. Change of this magnitude, affecting everything from IT to business to marketing and everything in between, will result in dramatic changes to how a company operates and the customer service it provides.
It isn’t necessarily easy to achieve. An older, established company that wants to “go digital” must learn not only to welcome change as a new normal but, with it, to accept a new company-wide spirit of sharing and collaboration between business units. Simply put, the old siloed ways of doing things must be abandoned if there is to be any real change of success in the digital world.
One risk many companies face when trying to reinvent themselves in a digital context is that they want to start behaving like startups. They think that the key to being agile, new-style enterprises that have been digital from the start is to simply act like them. Such companies, particularly those in which there is a lack of collaboration between business units, run a high risk of ending up a disjointed mess; they might very well end up a year or two down the road with a bloated, complicated IT system — without a roadmap in place or even a more general vision for the future.
Synergy at Northern Micro
Northern Micro, one of Canada’s top IT solution providers, underwent a digital transformation with both eyes open. The company’s Senior Director, Enterprise Technology, Emily Martin, said there was a strong connection between departments from the start of its digital transformation process.
“We have been very fortunate in that both our technical and business brain trusts recognized a need to transform. There was agreement that, if we were to offer our customers agile and scalable solutions going forward, we ourselves needed to change, if only to know by first-hand experience how to make that all-important leap into the digital world.”
If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, a company that is attempting to digital transform itself is only as strong as its individual business units are willing to collaborate with one another. Darren Livingston, Principal Architect at Northern Micro, makes the valid point that moving from information silos to information gathering, collaboration and sharing helps a company be more to its customers.
“It’s no longer about us or them, separately, it’s about us and them,” said Livingston. “Having documented every step of the journey, we have a repeatable process, literally at our fingertips. Pretty much everything we have gone through is documented, and thus repeatable. In the business we’re in, thinking like a customer makes us better and, in turn, makes our clients better.”