Do you really need a Digital Transformation?

‘Digital Transformation’ seems to be like the cocaine of digital services. Once clients get a taste for it they want more and more.

19 Jan 2017
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Jon Eaton

I’m certainly a fan of transformative digital projects. They are interesting to work on and result in fundamental business change. But sometimes I wonder whether people want to overcomplicate simple digital problems in order to feel like they’ve joined the party. In this article, I try to explain when you do and when you don’t need to complete a digital transformation project.

In addition to the blog, I have also provided a digital transformation questionnaire that you can complete with your colleagues. This will act as an indicator of whether you need transformation at this moment.

Quba Digital Transformation Questionnaire

You don’t need a digital transformation…

If your business is closed to the concept of change. You can throw as many business analysts and UX consultants as you like at some people and they’re just too stubborn to consider that things could be different.

We had a situation in mid-2016 when we were talking to a large multi-national organisation. The senior people in this company saw their website and online marketing as products of their overarching ‘lead-gen’ activity. They had a function that would always have a limited scope. They neither had the inclination or interest in thinking about whether digital technology could be used to create something better and more appropriate for their customers. Frustrating? Yes, but also understandable. If I was retiring in 2 years time I’d probably be looking for an easy life too.

Alongside being open minded you need an opportunity big enough to demand a rethink. If the size of your business is always going to be limited by market size, growth potential or your own ambitions don’t spend loads of money trying to think about ways to make the perfectly adequate completely brilliant. 

[It is still possible to generate results without a full digital transformation… check out the work we did for the Priory Hospitals Group]

But you do need a digital transformation...

...If you want to take a fundamentally different approach. By that, I do not mean creating a website that has a really funky design and is narrated by Morgan Freeman… If this is you, you probably need counselling. Not a digital transformation partner. 

I’m talking about a real meaningful change that has a significant impact on customer experience. This might be moving services online, personalising onsite and offsite messaging based on user browsing behaviours and/or customer data or using the web to fundamentally change the way in which customers engage with you. An example of the latter might be using website touch points to improve an existing sales process by offering opportunities to gain feedback or make relevant up-sell/cross-sell suggestions.

Digital Transformation really comes into its own in bigger business challenges. If you are looking at delivering millions of pounds in additional revenue or trying to improve profitability by 10% the chances are that transforming your digital service offering is part of the solution. It’s probably the cheapest way of developing a competitive advantage and the quickest way to optimise the customer experience you offer.

For real life examples have a look at our work below:

[London Luton Airport - A business transformation project for the UK's 5th largest airport]

[Ideal Standard - A transformation project enabling commercial customers to specify complex, high value projects online]

Where things go wrong 1: Pragmatism K.Os Ambition

One of the problems in working in an overly pragmatic organisation is that ambition can be killed at the source. Creativity and ambition are closely linked and it takes time for good ideas to show their true value.  

Organisations which allow pragmatism to kill ambition don’t realise the potential of opportunities available to them and this is particularly true when it comes to digital services. Advances in technology, productivity and the evolution of specialised digital roles mean we can now achieve a lot more and in less time. To summarise why this is relevant is simple: sometimes organisations which are closed to the possibility of creative thinking are exactly the kinds of organisations who could benefit from a digital transformation…. They just don’t know it yet.

Where things go wrong 2: You can’t and shouldn’t ‘transform’ everything

Many digital transformation partners want to start from a blank sheet of paper and validate absolutely every decision. This is an example of where pragmatism can be a good thing.

As a child to two academics, I have a lot of appreciation for the validity of properly conducted and audited research. Having said this I have seen situations, especially with UX specialists, where there is a temptation to reject any sort of existing intelligence or established truths. This is done with the best of intentions but is actually a waste of time. What you really want from a digital transformation supplier is the experience and know how to know where to look in order to find areas of improvement. Otherwise, they just slow the business down unnecessarily. Even if you’ve committed to a transformation project you shouldn’t have to pay to have someone tell you what you already know.

You might want to talk to us...

… and if you do that’s completely fine. We’re a chatty bunch and really like talking about how to solve business problems using the internet. We won’t try to sell you anything you don’t want and we will not patronise you. Feel free to give us a call on 0114 279 2750 (and don’t feel weird about calling up after reading a blog post - we do it all the time to keep on top of things too), or you can email and we will get back to you.

And if you don’t...

You might want to download and fill in our digital transformation questionnaire with your colleagues (no sign up required). A score of less than 5 means you probably don’t need a transformation.

Quba Digital Transformation Questionnaire 

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