Click source: Garry Wiseman

Maybe you’ve recognized that your company is falling behind the digital times by not utilizing new technology and not meeting customers’ or employees’ expectations. Maybe you’ve realized that productivity is bogged down by manual processes or, even worse, paper files. When it comes to putting your company through a digital transformation to make its systems and processes more efficient and up to date, it’s not a question of if, but when.

This process is rarely easy, but it can be made less stressful. I’ve helped lead digital transformations at several companies, including my current company, Nautilus, where we’re less than two years into our journey. I’d like to share the framework I’ve used that leads to the best results with the least amount of pushback and frustration.

It All Starts With A Digital Maturity Assessment

To find opportunities where your company can improve via better technology, the first step is to conduct an audit called a digital maturity assessment. A digital maturity assessment generally looks at one department in your company at a time, such as sales or HR. The assessment can locate areas where there are opportunities to improve by comparing your company’s practices to industry best practices or to other firms who are succeeding in these areas.

Examples of what you may uncover with a digital maturity assessment include:

  • Using a chatbot could help improve customer service scores by allowing customers to self-service 24/7 rather than wait for the call center to open.

Creating a client dashboard for call center staff could increase customer satisfaction ratings by giving workers more context when servicing a call.

  • Automation could decrease costs, reduce human error, and free up your team’s time to focus on more critical tasks.

A digital maturity consultant can conduct your company’s assessment for you as a neutral third party, giving you a fresh perspective on the workings of your company. But if you’re willing to tackle it in house, there are several assessment tools available online.

Company Buy-In Is Critical 

Now that your digital assessment has shown what areas to work on, the next step is to get everyone on board. This, believe it or not, is the most complex part of the process. Human beings are by nature skeptical of change, and when you add in the elements of implementing new technology, skills and processes, resistance is only exacerbated.

One way to overcome this challenge is to show case studies from other companies that have made these same changes and seen great results. You can even bring in representatives from non-competing companies to talk about their own digital transformations and provide your leadership team and employees the opportunity to ask questions about the process.

Find Champions 

Invite your most “on-board” team members to champion the digital transformation to the rest of the company. Find champions in each department, and task them with helping you get their direct colleagues excited about the changes to come. A good way to do this is to show how the changes will improve their current job, up-level their work skills and help them achieve their goals faster.

Use Small Wins To Drive Confidence 

Engaging in a digital transformation is not an overnight affair. It’s likely to take years of work and a hefty financial investment. Much like going on a diet, the most difficult work happens in the beginning, and the best motivation to keep going is to see results.

Start your digital transformation with the low-hanging fruit that will produce small wins quickly, so you’ve got something to keep your team motivated and your executives and board encouraged to keep investing in these new changes. Nothing is more exciting than progress.

Show your executives and board ever-increasing results, and you’ll be more likely to get their go-ahead on cascading investments over time. Start small, get results, then pitch bigger as you go along.

Choose A Digital Transformation Leader

Every flock needs a shepherd, and every project needs a leader. Appoint a digital transformation leader that organizes your company’s digital transformation, tracks its progress, reports on wins and failures, creates proposals for the board, and trains people on the new changes. This leader can be a single person or backed by a team of invested individuals.

Stay Agile 

The digital world moves at the speed of light, so be prepared to change overnight when disruptors hit the market. There’s always someone out there thinking about how to do things differently.

Look at Tesla. When Tesla entered the market, electric cars were not taken seriously in the industry and had a controversial history that cast doubt in consumers’ minds. However, Tesla made electric cars not only cool, but practical and filled with new features that consumers didn’t even know they needed. Now every car manufacturer is going electric to keep up with the surging market demand Tesla created.

We’ve experienced this firsthand in the fitness industry, as companies entered the market with a software-as-a-service mindset versus being purely hardware-focused. The pandemic accelerated the desires of a new set of younger customers who grew up with the internet and expected everything to be fully connected and highly engaging. That caused Nautilus and other established fitness equipment players to have to dramatically accelerate or even spin up their digital efforts  to remain competitive.

Check in often with your competition, and be ready to pivot on a dime when the technology changes or advances. The cost of changing directions quickly is a lot less than waiting and having to overhaul your entire setup later.

Defining Success 

You’ll know your digital transformation has been successful if your original goals are met or at least progressing in the right direction. You could be looking to drive NPS up, reduce costs, improve productivity, etc. Look at your KPIs to discover if your digital transformation is actually improving those scores you originally set out to improve.

Though getting your company to adopt a digital transformation can be tough at first, the benefits are undeniable. It’s a digital world. Getting your company up to speed paves your way toward success now and in the future, so you’ll be better prepared for the inevitable bumps in the road and to take on the competition.