Our world is becoming increasingly digital. From governments to education, industries across the board are consistently digitalising more and more, and those who don’t can find themselves lagging behind.
You may have heard the term ‘digital transformation’ in the past, whether in job titles or business presentations, but what exactly is it?
Dating all the way back to the creation of the World Wide Web, digital transformation began as digitalisation. From there, these practices grew to become what we now know as digital transformation.
Unlike digitisation and digitalisation, digital transformation takes on processes on the whole within a company. So what’s the difference between the three?
In simple terms, digitisation refers to the practice of moving from analog to digital, for example converting paper files to digital files.
Digitalisation is the practice of using digital processes to simplify or enhance the way you work, for example implementing a new digital tool to make a workflow more efficient.
Digital transformation is the adoption of digital technologies throughout businesses or services.
So, what is digital transformation?
At its most basic, digital transformation is resetting the perspective of your company or organisation on how technology, process and people are utilised in order to create a better, more efficient and more successful version of the business.
Digital transformation involves replacing manual or non-digital processes with digital or automated operations, or replacing older digital technology with newer versions to improve processes. By adopting digital and automated techniques, businesses and services become more effective and efficient.
Digital transformation will look different within every individual company or organisation depending on its industry and work flows. It’s an entirely bespoke way of looking at digitalising an organisation on the whole, from work processes to data and beyond.
Digital transformation can often bring about significant changes in the way a company works, and can even cause a complete alteration in the type of work carried out by its employees. As it’s all-encompassing, it requires certain top-level and in-depth skills that usually require specific training, so it’s best carried out by digital transformation specialists or leaders.
What are the benefits of digital transformation?
Some of the benefits to arise from implementing digital transformation within a business include:
Digital transformation can help a company reach a specific goal or set of goals, from improving customer satisfaction to increasing productivity, as well as modernising and improving how a business or organisation operates on the whole.
Digital transformation is also closely aligned to Industry 4.0.
What are the four pillars of digital transformation?
When looking at the digital transformation within a business, there are 4 interrelated domains.
From artificial intelligence to the internet of things, technology is rapidly growing, improving and transforming the way we live and work.
Adopting new technologies and integrating them with existing systems within the workplace can be a highly complex undertaking that requires specific training, in addition to certain soft skills. Not only that, as technology is ever-evolving at an unbelievable pace, implementing new digital processes in a workplace also involves keeping up with advancements, new tools or software and news from within the industry.
There is no doubt that emerging technologies are the answer to increasing and improving success in the workplace.
Digital transformation requires an understanding of data and analytics.
Usually, an organisation's data quality is not up to the standards it should be at in order to digitalise efficiently, and often it’s not understood or interpreted correctly by those leveraging or sorting it.
In order to be successful in digital transformation, a deep understanding of the data you’re handling - and interpreting this correctly through data analysis - is key. Successful digital transformation therefore requires strong skills in data analytics.
Digital transformation involves a beginning-to-end mindset; a consideration of the full performance as a whole across all activities within an organisation.
In order to improve processes within an organisation with an aim of implementing digital transformation, an awareness of the current processes and the need for either full reengineering or minor improvements is necessary. Digital transformation specialists should therefore have the skills to identify and solve problems within processes, in addition to
the knowledge of how to improve them.
Launching new or improved processes within a company can not only assist with the overall digital transformation of its structure, it can instantly improve productivity and efficiency too.
4. Organisational Change Capability
Technology is not the only important aspect of the transformation process: people and culture are at the heart of digital transformation.
In order for a transformation to be successful, people within the organisation must be willing to change, grow and adapt. Active commitment from people within the organisation will result in a smooth and successful digital transformation - their work processes will certainly change, and this can sometimes be a little uncomfortable for employees as they first grow accustomed to it, so having a clear, team-led plan and end goal is infinitely helpful.
Ensure as little push-back as possible by employing future-thinking adaptable employees.
What are the key steps in a digital transformation model?
Although each digital transformation model will differ, they typically all have a few key steps in common.
Set defined business goals
Having a defined set of goals to work towards will make the digital transformation infinitely easier. Aligning set objectives with defined business goals not only gives the digital transformation process a more structured path towards success, it can help create a common understanding of the process and end goal amongst employees too.
Involve all stakeholders
Not just the realm of technology or IT teams, digital transformation should involve the team as a whole, from the CEO, to business development, to customer service, as it permeates all levels of a business.
Focus on customer outcomes
Businesses undergoing digital transformation should focus on customer satisfaction as part of their main goals where possible, and always consider how digital could benefit their customers and create a better customer experience and outcome during the process.
Align employees skills with digital
It’s crucial that employees understand and are trained for digital processes. From re-training existing employees to hiring in new employees with digital skills, digital transformation is only successful when employees have the skills necessary to make these new processes and technologies work.
What skills are required for a career in digital transformation?
In addition to the above domains, there are a number of soft skills that are associated with digital transformation.
Collaboration - Willingness to work with others, listen to their ideas, brainstorm, communicate and take feedback.
Emotional intelligence - This covers traits such as self-awareness, social skills, empathy and motivation, all important qualities in digital transformation.
How can you study for a career in digital transformation?
Our Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Transformation and MSc in Digital Transformation focus on digital transformation within the Life Science Sectors.
These sectors include pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceuticals, medical devices and medtech, food sciences, clinical trials, biology and more. These programmes cover a number of topics such as advanced manufacturing in the smart factory, business case development, quality management in a digital age, big data acquisition and management, strategy and change management, operational excellence.
Read more about the exciting launch of this exciting new digital transformation course here.