The 3 Pillars of Digital Transformation – Using Technology to Optimise your Business

Driving seismic change in business requires a clear-cut plan of attack to pull off successfully. That means securing clarity of vision from leadership; buy-in from your team members; a thorough understanding of the business processes to be overhauled in your changes and, of course, an overview of how technology feeds into all these factors. 

This last point in particular is key to a digital transformation. Overhauling your processes with technology requires a thorough understanding of the tech being implemented in your company, both by the leadership pushing for change and the team members tasked with managing the transition, and working with the newly digitised processes once that transition is complete. 

Change begins at the top. But for most businesses that change isn’t going to be implemented directly by management but by the people underneath them, who drive the organisation with their understanding of the processes used to achieve positive outcomes. 

This is where the People – Process – Technology framework comes into play. Designed to help conceptualise the key pillars of any successful transformation process in business, this framework is just as crucial for digital transformation as it is for any other kind of change in how a business operates. Understanding the role technology will play in your digital transformation process is crucial to aligning the other two pillars of change – your people and the processes they work with – to be in the best possible position to make the most out of your vision for change. 

 

The Importance of Technology in your Business’ Digital Transformation 

Technology is as vital a component in business as capital, or talent. This goes without saying; the simple existence of tools like word processers and spreadsheets have increased worker productivity by orders of magnitude since their introduction. And the benefits of technology in business don’t stop there. Automating internal processes; replacing time stamp cards with time tracker applications; organising and automating payroll…practically every function of modern business is now carried out, in some manner, with the benefit of technology that, once upon a time, was considered revolutionary to that process. In 1969, the software that took Apollo astronauts to the moon was written entirely by hand! 

By embracing digital transformation you have already identified a process or system within your organisation’s operations that can be overhauled through the application of a new technological solution. This could be anything as simple as replacing a pen and paper field report system with a centralised digital database, to something more complicated like collating multiple data points from your manufacturing production line into a single, easy to read information dashboard. 

Whatever your proposed solution, technology is its beating heart, and that requires you to understand the existing technological framework these core processes operate within, and how your desired changes will shape or replace that technology moving forwards. This means understanding the role your technology plays in your business, and how you can mold your business around it for optimum results. 

 

Make your Technology Work for your Business 

70% of digital transformation projects end in failure. 

That figure should in no way put you off what you are attempting to do, but it should put into stark relief the importance of getting things right. Haphazardly introducing technological solutions without consideration of the people and processes involved can backfire, and leave staff disgruntled and everyday business operations slowed or even stalled outright. 

What’s imperative in this procedure is to evaluate these changes around your people and processes. How can you harness technology to streamline your business operations and get the most out of your people as they are already? The question you should never be asking is how can technology make up for shortfalls in how your existing people and processes are failing to meet expectations; that is attempting to patch over a structural problem with eye-wateringly expensive masking tape. It’s not going to work, and sooner or later the tape will peel off and the underlying faults you’d hoped to cover up and ignore will be exposed to the elements once again. 

Your digital transformation should instead be built around marshalling your existing resources to streamline them and amplify their effectiveness. Change in business is good; it keeps your organisation current and opens up new vistas for growth. But you cannot grow what you already have if your foundations aren’t solid; and that’s where technology as part of the PPT framework comes into play. 

 

Harnessing Technology to Optimise Your Business Processes 

We’ve already touched on how technology has revolutionised working life for almost every single business worldwide. From touchscreen cash registers to Excel spreadsheets, keypad locks to CCTV cameras, to mobile phone notifications and email, to even the fact you are reading this article on a screen right now – technology has made the workplace of 2024 unrecognisable from the workplace of 1924. 

But at the crux of every revolution in business technology we listed above is the business process that underlies them. We discussed the ins and outs of Process as a part of the People – Process – Technology triad previously. An understanding of what processes define your business operations will help you identify what areas would truly benefit from a technological upgrade, rather than simply attempting to force a square peg into a round hole in pursuit of a technological solution without a problem. 

This means taking the time to understand these processes, including engaging directly with the team members involved in their day-to-day implementation. Break down these processes into their constituent steps, easily replicable by any new hire brought on board to carry them out. Understand the existing technology that helps carry out these processes (what software does your business use, for example, to organise its email marketing campaigns?), and how these processes interact with other processes in other corners of your organisation. Having mapped out the ecosystem through which your business operations thrive, it will be far more obvious where the strategic application of digital transformation could generate the most impact. 

 

Bringing People & Technology Together in Your Company’s Digital Transformation 

Of course, through all of this never forget that it is people who manage these processes you’ve so carefully identified everyday. They do not exist in the abstract (although it helps to break them down that way, as we plan the changes we’re discussing). 

As we’ve discussed in a previous article, perhaps the worst thing that a digital transformation can do is implement new technology without the full faith buy-in of the people most likely to be affected – team members as well as external stakeholders. As we’ve already identified the key processes in your business to be transformed, a good way to understand the importance of this is in how it will affect the people carrying out these processes. 

Clear and open communication with your people as to why these changes are being implemented, and what the goal of the changes are, is one crucial way to encourage enthusiasm for the new way of doing things. Identifying areas your staff may been retraining to handle the new technology is a core part of this part of the triad, as well – and the offer to upskill your people is another incentive for them to get on board with the changes. 

 

Bringing it all Together – How Technology, People and Processes can be Harnessed to Ensure a Successful Digital Transformation 

Understanding the interplay between these three pillars is key to pulling off a successful digital transformation. As outlined above, the goal is to build the implementation of your technological solution around your existing people and processes, not the other way around. That’s not to say that people and processes will not change as a result of digital transformation; they very well may. But implementing a change on any scale without first understanding the roots of what is to be changed will lead to duplication of efforts, wasted time and resources, and begrudgery from staff (and stakeholders) impacted by a haphazard installation. 

If your new method of doing things, post-digital transformation, is meeting with resistance by your people – why? If it turns out the old way of doing things (the old process, in other words) was faster, easier or more convenient, then re-evaluate your technological solution, not your process or people. Digital transformation should aid, not hinder the people and processes driving operations. It should accentuate, not replace (outright) existing processes which have already proven to work. And if a process doesn’t work, then there may be larger underlying problems at play that a simple technological solution may not be able to fix on its own. 

We don’t replace the need to communicate with each other with email software; we use email software to facilitate our need to communicate with eachother, and make it more convenient for all parties. This, too, is how you should conceptualise your digital transformation, and how it interacts with the People – Process – Technology framework that is key to setting out your plans for momentous change. 

 

How Can A Business Prepare Itself for a Digital Transformation? 

If your business is preparing to undergo a digital transformation process, be sure you’re putting your best foot forwards by taking advantage of Target Integration’s free guide to digital transformation for SMEs. Downloading the guide also gives you access to our useful Digital Transformation Checklist, also completely free, to ensure that your business is covering all its bases before embarking upon its transformation. 

 

Want to know more? Check out our blog covering everything SMEs need to know about digital transformation. If you represent a business preparing to take the first bold step on its digital transformation journey, book a consultation today and one of our team will be happy to talk to you about how digital transformation can unleash your business’ full potential! 

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