Two men walking the shop floor

Five steps to identify digital transformation opportunities

By definition, transformation implies dramatic change. When you throw the word digital in front of it, management turns to IT with grand expectations. That’s a difficult position to be in, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are five steps to help IT professionals spot digital opportunities, generate realistic ideas and transform their company. 

1. Find a partner on the business side. IT can’t do it alone. 

Ego may convince us to go it alone. Then again, it may just sound easier than coordinating schedules. However, there’s tremendous value in partnering with the business from the get-go. They bring rich user, consumer, and competitive insight. Dig into the data together to uncover digital transformation opportunities and fine-tune your ideas. A business partner can also speak the boardroom’s language and help you translate technology to earn buy-in for your project.

2. Walk the floor. 

Your business partner brings a fresh strategic perspective, but that doesn’t replace the power of observation. Walk the shop floor, ride along with Sales, or sit with Supply Chain for the day. You’ll gain a whole new appreciation for their pain points. Keep your eyes and ears open not only for inefficiencies but creative workarounds. These are the sparks of digital transformation.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, teams were geographically scattered. Don’t let that stop your research. Conduct interviews with end-users and ask them to walk you through their space by video. Here are eight steps you can take to make your interview count. 

3. Develop a data strategy.

In their article in the Harvard Business Review, Leonardo DalleMule and Thomas Davenport explained that “less than half of an organization’s structured data is actively used in making decisions—and less than 1% of its unstructured data is analyzed or used at all.” Digital transformation solutions don’t only collect data; they cultivate it. Form a strategy around consolidating data in a single secure source of truth. Ensure relevant data is accessible from multiple endpoints in real-time and subsequently presented in a user-friendly format.

4. Invest in use cases, not just technology. 

You may think you’re immune, but we all get lured in by shiny objects. Use cases keep us in check. They ensure we’re designing to solve a problem, not shopping for a problem to fit our solution. They also remind us whom we are designing for—likely end-users on a spectrum. From tech-savvy to tentative. From on-premise to remote. Keep your use cases front and center and weigh all decisions based on the impact on these goals. 

5. Go beyond traditional ROI calculations. 

Return on investment (ROI) is obvious when you’re selling a product: the product price divided by the cost to produce it times 100%. But don't discount the intangible. There are many digital transformation opportunities in simplifying business processes or improving user experiences. Work with your business partner to quantify results based on:

  • Time saved — Can efficiency lead to higher production output and faster order fulfillment?
  • Steps cut — Can employees be diverted to new initiatives instead of outsourcing that work?
  • Risk mitigated — Can automation lower error rates or reduce waste?
  • Costs eliminated — Can the solution enable you to cut hardware, software, infrastructure, or other capital costs?
  • Customers satisfied — Can a smoother, friendlier, or more convenient interface impact customer loyalty?

At ERP Suites, we follow these five steps to help customers identify practical opportunities for digital transformation. Next, we rank them by their potential to generate meaningful results. In my next blog, I’ll share the four digital transformation pillars we use to rate concepts and guarantee success.

Need help getting started? Contact us to set up a virtual whiteboard session with an ERP Suites Advisory Practice consultant.