How having a strategy can transform your business

If your company doesn’t have a digital transformation strategy, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your bottom line, better meet customer expectations and effectively analyze data — and you’re falling behind your competition.

“Having a clear digital transformation strategy is critical for any business,” says Ray Milhem, CEO of MILHEM DTL (Digital Transformation & Leadership), a Pittsburgh firm with Fortune 500 clients, as well as private equity firm clients with their portfolio companies. “Failing to have a strategy affects your bottom line, your production, your market share, the morale of your customers and, if you’re a public company, your stock.”

Smart Business spoke with Milhem about how a digital transformation strategy can help propel your business forward.

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation enhances a company’s digital capabilities to improve the efficiency of its processes and optimize data to gain better insight into customer information, allowing it to provide a more consistent customer experience. It makes a company more accessible and valuable to its customers, improves security and helps grow the bottom line. Digital transformation means moving from manual processes to digital ones, or replacing outdated technology and hardware with more current technology.

Nearly all companies have automation that enables them to be more productive, gives them control over expenses and allows them to maximize their return on investment. However, many haven’t upgraded their technology and aren’t working as efficiently and effectively as they could be.

How has the pandemic hastened digital transformation?

With COVID, digital transformation became very powerful. The pandemic changed the buying habits of consumers, as they don’t want to go into a store or meet with a salesperson. If you don’t have your products online, you are missing out on sales.

Too many businesses haven’t even thought of selling online, but doing so can optimize sales and complement direct sales. Many business owners have been resistant to creating an ecommerce option, but anything your customer can buy in your physical store or through a salesperson, they can — and want to — buy online. And if they can’t do it with you, they’ll do so with your competition. Pre-pandemic, many businesses were already undergoing a transformation, but those that did not have a clear digital transformation strategy that included ecommerce, as well as front-end and back-end IT systems, struggled.

Allowing consumers and other businesses to buy from their home or office creates a seamless customer experience, increasing sales both locally and globally and making those who otherwise may not have known about your business aware of it. Businesses are realizing they cannot defeat the market; they need a site with an online store that is attractive to their target audience.

How can a company begin to create a digital transformation strategy?

Having a clear digital strategy is critical to survival, and an experienced expert can help you identify areas where transformation can improve processes and security. A strategic advisory firm can help you develop a strategy or, upgrade your current one.

It starts with a high-level conversation about what digital transformation is and why it’s important. A strategic adviser will ask detailed questions about your systems, access to them, security, hardware, software, use of the cloud, etc., then uncover your pain points and budget constraints and make recommendations. And if you decide to move forward, the advisory firm’s partners will work with you on the installation and deployment of the recommended assets.

But it’s not just the hardware and software. Leadership training is a critical component, as middle managers are often resistant to change. They need training on how new technology benefits them, how it impacts the bottom line, differentiates the business from the competition and expands sales. Getting that buy-in is vital to the success of a digital transformation strategy.

Digital transformation is an ongoing process, and your strategy needs to be continuously updated. You can’t stand still. Companies need to be very dynamic and be thought leaders in their industries.

Insights Digital Transformation is brought to you by MILHEM DTL