One of the most challenging endeavors a company may undertake is the digital business transformation. Each digital transformation initiative touches multiple business functions that are often isolated from one another. IT organizations are sometimes disparate from the business processes they support, and it can be difficult to navigate conflicting agendas within the organization. Bridging that divide between the business and IT has been a perennial problem within companies for decades. For this reason, many companies turn to digital transformation and digital transformation consulting firms to gain an outside, objective perspective.
Digital transformation is a trend that drives billions of dollars in investment across the corporate world to reimagine and reinvent the way business is conducted. The guide to finding digital transformation consulting companies is an in-depth and comprehensive examination for entrepreneurs and executives to understand, consider, plan, implement, and execute change for success in today’s digital age.
We can define digital transformation as a customer-centric reimagination of a company’s future. It involves rethinking the company’s business model and includes restructuring the processes, reshaping the product or service portfolio, reskilling the workforce, re-platforming technologies, and instilling a new organizational culture to achieve digital maturity. What will my business look like after digital transformation? What do we produce, sell, and how to make money? What is our justification for existence and value-add? Real digital transformation involves answering such strategic questions. How an organization makes a profit is quite different in the digital age.
With technology as an enabler, digital transformation is more than a mere technology transformation. It’s a business transformation first, encompassing the operating process, operating model, and culture. The ability to initiate and manage change, strong leadership, and customer-centric culture are essential to digitalization.
The drivers for company digitalization
What are the main drivers for embarking on a digital transformation? There are a few key trends that include:
- Digital disruptors. The digital disruptors include names such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Apple. These are digital disruptors that have grown to become giants, spreading their reach into multiple corners of industry sectors. Many large companies today attempt to emulate them.
- Big Data and analytics. The arrival of Big Data and advanced analytics are significant drivers for digital transformation. Companies cannot rely on gut feelings to determine their next move. Many of them are making decisions based on data and analytics.
- Cloud. Another key factor driving the digital revolution is the cloud revolution. The cloud is both an enabler and a driver – companies are rapidly migrating to the cloud. The process of cloud migration is reaching into mission-critical applications and core services.
- Mobility. The ubiquity of Wi-Fi, 3G/4G/5G, and touch-enabled devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.) heralded a new revolution. People are doing everything on their handheld devices – sharing, learning, transactions, and interactions. This mobility revolution is also driving important changes across enterprises, regardless of whether they engage in B2B, B2C, or B2B2C. The new paradigm is – mobile-first, touch-first.
- Cognitive technologies and AI. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), the Internet of Things (IoT), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and related cognitive technologies are acting as drivers, enablers, and potential competitive differentiators.
- Customer expectations. Companies like Amazon, Airbnb, Spotify, and Apple have experienced enormous growth by making the customer experience the cornerstone of their success. Today’s customers no longer compare the experience of peer groups. The benchmark of digital expertise and ease are set by emerging startups and tech giants upending the status quo in various industry sectors.
- Speed. The constant demand to meet customer requirements creates a competitive market for many companies. Companies have shifted focus to delivering fast products and solutions to customers. In today’s market, the success of a company does not rely on the size of the company, but on the speed of delivery and reduction of errors.
Digital Transformation Consulting
A digital transformation consultant is there to guide your enterprise by integrating new technology and leveraging it to change your business model and processes. Digital business transformation is an in-depth transformation beyond just upgrading your accounting or POS system. A digital transformation brings every company department up to speed with the most relevant technology. In some cases, that means reorganizing your business process altogether. A holistic approach should optimize every segment of the company.
The need for the right digital transformation program
Digital transformation consulting companies help create the right strategy that becomes a blueprint for what comes next. Without a coherent and clear digital business strategy, a company that sets out on a digital transformation journey will end up with average or subpar results.
Formulating a digital transformation strategy and documenting the entire process is a profound activity. Some companies decide to hire experienced and reputable digital transformation consulting firms to help define and direct their digitization programs. Since digital transformation has become a necessity, it has become a business with no signs of slowing down. Your consultants are there to help you answer the most fundamental questions – What, Why, Who, Which, Where, With What, How Much, and so on.
What You Should Get from Your Digital Transformation Consultant
Your digital transformation should be tailored to your company because every business is unique. The most common elements that a digital transformation may include are:
- Customer-centric mindset
- Organizational structure (facilitate sharing information or data)
- Transformational leadership
- Change management
- Entire C-suite involved in decisions
- Better internal customer experience
- Integration of data
- Supply chain and logistics
- Data, privacy, and security
Whether your customers are consumers or businesses, they want digital convenience. Your digital transformation consultant should evaluate how your transactions occur. They will help you determine which process is manageable for your business, and also attractive and convenient for customers.
Digital transformation consultants will help integrate all departments with the right digital technology. Most companies operate with disparate technologies (for example: separate software for sales, IT, accounting, and HR). The difficulty is in getting them to work together. A digital transformation consultant will help you develop the most comprehensive digital solution. This may involve several types of software customized to work together, or an all-in-one solution. The best option depends on the size of the business, business model, and industry.
How to Find a Digital Transformation Consultant?
Once you decide to embark on the digital transformation journey, it’s essential to find the consultant that is the best fit for your enterprise. Since it is a growing industry, there are many consultants and consulting firms to choose from.
- Ask about their experience
It sounds impressive when a digital transformation consulting company boasts having 10-20 years of experience, but you need to know more. Are they experienced with working in your industry? Maybe they’ve worked with law or healthcare firms, while your company operates in the retail sector. Next, are they experienced with organizations of your size? The solution they suggest should handle all your needs and fit your budget.
Where are the businesses they have worked with today? How successful are they? Maybe they have been around for 20 years, but having many dissatisfied clients does not make them experts. If they are going to help you transform your business, processes, and ways of working through digital transformation, they should provide evidence of doing the same things for other companies. Ask to see proof of the work they have done for others and its effects on those businesses. Ask for their past clients’ names, reach out to them, and talk about their experience with that particular digital transformation consulting firm.
- Are they in it for the long haul?
Some digital consulting companies work on a project basis, meaning that they will help you one time and then they are gone. Digital transformation endeavors are not short-term, and they require a partner to work with you continually. You should determine which type of solution fits your budget and company’s needs best, and then look for a partner who is comfortable with the solution you need. If you plan to operate on a project basis rather than a long-term partnership, ask potential consultants what happens if you are not satisfied. The consulting partner should be available for revision and stand by their work.
- Understanding your company’s needs
Your digital transformation consulting partner must understand your company particulars in detail to gain a deep understanding of what you do and how you do it. They will recognize what your business needs and which technologies will have the most positive effects on your operations. They should also comprehend the overall business objectives and the needs of the IT manager.
The right digital consultant will approach your situation like a blank piece of paper. They will listen to your concerns and needs while getting a feel for the organizational culture. They will meet with department leaders and managers to assess all needs from the digital transformation project. Next, they will work with you on designing a transformation roadmap, and discuss the digital solutions they propose to help realize the transformation goals.
- Process priority vs. Client priority
When evaluating a digital strategy consulting company, one of the crucial criteria is the planned partnership structure. It is essential to know how your partner envisions supporting your company when things get difficult. To understand that, you should ask them about their ideologies regarding time-sensitive and high-priority requirements. When it comes to addressing clients’ needs, do they always adhere to their procedures, or are they willing to go above and beyond (even if it means breaking their rules)? Ask about how their teams will collaborate with your company’s teams and how they plan to communicate. It is almost always advisable to team up with an agile company that will prioritize your immediate needs over rigid rules.
- Red flags
When choosing your digital transformation partner, you should keep your eyes open for red flags from the start. For example, you should take note if the people present at the negotiations are not the people who will handle the partnership. That could lead to a significant loss in time and money, as well as future complications in strategic alignment.
Next, you should be wary if your potential partner is trying to convince you that they can help you grow quickly. There should always be an opportunity to test the partnership and evaluate your collaborative work before large commitments are made. This is the best way to reduce the risk of entering the wrong partnership, experiencing delays, and making inadequate investments.
You should also avoid long-term milestones and build your cooperation. Look for visible developments within 2-3 months. Otherwise, you risk moving in the wrong direction and spend too many resources on something that will not bring value to your organization.
When checking references, make sure you are looking at the right things. You should focus on personal recommendations from previous clients. Transforming your product/service is personal. Aim to work with transformation consulting companies that can deliver and are pleasant to work with. On the road to a successful digital change, you will encounter stress and many risks. Be sure to partner with a consulting company that is empathetic. Such companies focus on people and customers.
- First meeting
Do not underrate the importance of your first meeting and get the most of it by:
- Meeting face to face (or virtual). Always take time to get to know your potential partners personally.
- Involving as many stakeholders with decision-making power as possible.
- Discussing the essential points of the partnership, sharing your expectations, and addressing main concerns.
A partnership is a two-way street that must be balanced. Clear communication and careful evaluation increase the likelihood of a successful endeavor.
Most Common Reasons for Digital Transformation Failure
According to research, organizations spend more than 1 trillion dollars annually on digital transformation initiatives. The coronavirus outbreak and its side effects drove much of last year’s decision-making regarding tech budgets. About half of surveyed business leaders say that they will retain their flexible work policies, while the other half says they are looking for ways to boost their digital transformation plans.
These may be eye-popping numbers, but the truth is, many digital projects underperform or fail. The failure of such a project is emblematic of a syndrome affecting all of them – the larger the project, the more ambitious the scope and reach, and the more likely it will underperform or fail.
The most common reasons behind digital transformation failure include:
- Not understanding what a digital transformation is.
- Under budgeting
- Underestimating the magnitude of the transformation
- Lukewarm support from the C-level leadership
- Lack of talented resources
- Jumping in without the right digital strategy and digital transformation roadmap
- Not addressing the cultural shift
- Underestimating change management
- Focusing on shiny new technology instead of on foundational things
One should keep in mind that true digital transformation is a fraught activity that does not go from point A to point B without difficulties. Often, the processes must be altered, the wireframe has to be realigned, and certain aspects take more transformation time than expected.
A digital transformation expert has the skills to save an enterprise a vast amount of money through their professional experience and knowledge. It means that hiring a digital consulting company offers an exceptional ROI in the long-term. These companies can help streamline your business’s digital competencies, making them a valuable company asset. That is why the world continues to see an ever-rising demand for digital transformation consultants.
Reimagining Your Business Processes and Operations
Recent world events, such as the COVID-19 outbreak, have delivered an important message to the business world – the global market can completely change within only a few days. We are all trying to find more resilient and agile ways of working, while also moving forward with innovative ideas for serving our customers. Those bold plans need to be activated as soon as possible. A long-term, incremental approach will not help form human connections and solve deep-rooted problems in an all-digital world. Companies cannot just improve their operations and processes a little – they need to reimagine them completely.
Choosing the right partner with proper assets is a way to successfully accelerate your company’s digital transformation. The right digital transformation partner will help you shape that change and work with you to measure the outcomes of your digital transformation effort.
The i4 Group believes that digital transformation success is measured by achieving the best possible match between the consultant and client to ensure that both parties are satisfied. It is a source of great pride that we have helped many companies on their digital transformation journey. Reach out to the i4 Group and find out more about the Digital Transformation Consulting services we offer.