Over the last decade, ‘Digital Transformation’ has been on the agenda for almost every business. This year, the world went digital almost overnight.
Today’s article is from our Homegrown Magazine, Lockdown Edition, where we share insight for future communications and celebrate the home-grown businesses from the North continuing to do great things. For your copy please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We have all been forced to change almost every habit and routine, switch every face-to-face meeting to a video call and even communicate with our teams and our loved ones virtually. For every business and every person the change is having different levels of impact, but one thing is sure, we’re all still finding our way and getting used to a new ‘normal’.
In the UK only 17% of the thousands of businesses surveyed felt their business was fully ready for remote working or to offer their services and products digitally. Of those businesses who were able to operate remotely, 79% felt their team’s productivity would drop and that they did not have the right systems in place to be able to communicate effectively.
But despite the disruption, businesses are adapting quickly, and in the UK we have some real positives to take from lockdown. People are innovating, and finding new ways to engage with their customers, some are developing new websites and apps in super-fast time, others improving their online systems, most getting their online experience right in weeks when it’s been on the ‘to do’ list for years. As a nation we are ‘doing good’ – in the UK, businesses are using their strong digital presence to raise thousands for local communities, charities and to support key workers. They are sharing positive news stories and sending digital love around the world.
So what now?
Online engagement is up 82%, online search and traffic numbers are off the charts and every generation is trying new technology online. We’re spending longer researching, trust is higher than ever before and, what’s more, consumers are enjoying online experiences and sharing them far and wide. 73% of consumers who had tried online shopping for the first time, said they would continue, even after lockdown was over and more than 69% of users felt more confident to seek financial or legal consultancy online and to share personal details.
However, all this extra time to research and explore online, is leading to heightened demands. The number of online reviews and customers dropping off slow, poorly-optimised sites before they make a purchase are at an all-time high. So how do businesses take this opportunity to engage with their customers and continue their digital transformation?
There are a lot of definitions for ‘Digital Transformation’, but the most consistent and widely used is:
“Digital Transformation is the use of new, fast and frequently changing digital technology to solve problems.”
For every business technology should be different: there is no one-size-fits-all approach and technology should be used to solve your problems as a business, to solve problems for your people and to meet the needs of your customers. Do your systems need to be more efficient, do your current systems lack security, is there a risk of breach, do you need better internal communication systems or new ways to process orders online? The list of potential problems that need to be solved is endless.
For your customers, solving their problems should always be top of your agenda, but now it’s even more important to do this well, and you may find that they have a whole new set of issues or needs as we navigate life post lockdown.
Use data and trends to help you to plan your digital strategy
Listening to your customers and watching how they behave has always been the key to getting your technology or digital offering right. Now everyone is spending so much more time online, digital interactions, leads and sales are representing a far larger proportion of businesses’ incomes.
It is therefore more important than ever to ensure you are gathering and analysing the data that you have at your disposal and using it to influence your marketing and business strategies. Look carefully at what works, what doesn’t work, where you have gaps or where you may need to improve, and be prepared to tweak your approach to suit shifting demand.
Listen to and analyse consumer trends and behaviours, how your customers are interacting with you, what research they are doing, how they are doing it, and what was their experience: once they arrived on your website, which pages did they visit and what did they buy? If they left without buying, why did they do that and what can you change to improve that in future?
Furthermore, look at their reviews and feedback: don’t be upset if it’s negative: use it to learn from mistakes and make your business stronger. Let all of this this data help you to decide how to use technology for the best now and in the future.
Digital transformation doesn’t always have to be extreme, but it should be constant. We’ve seen our favourite bars and restaurants switch to online ordering and take away, using their social channels for live DJ sessions at home and delivering video masterclasses for cocktail making and gin tasting, they’ve adapted and embraced new ways of maintaining their brand loyalty online.
Whilst Covid-19 has accelerated the need to review all of our technology, our online channels and our strategy going forward, the need to use technology to solve problems will always be there, along with the need for businesses to plan for different scenarios so that you can adapt quickly. This is a great chance to re-set and to think long-term about how you can continuously innovate with technology, improve systems, adopt new technology and change how you operate digitally.
Plan for the future
Trends around cyber security, website performance, SEO, usability, chat functions, app speed, online events and content marketing are heightened right now, but these are all topics of conversation that are here to stay. When considering how your business will transform over the next few months and beyond, think about how your digital capability will match the way your customers are feeling right now and what is likely to be important to them in the future.
Maybe it’s chatting to you online, or engaging with an online community group, or maybe they just want to know that your website is secure so they can make that decision to purchase. Digital transformation is not about a new App, a new website or installing the latest team chat tool, it’s about understanding why you need technology, how you can adapt digitally, how changes enhance experience or the problems you can solve.