By Alistair Laycock, Custom Solutions Director at Haulmont
‘Digital transformation’ has an obvious appeal. Invest in a technological solution that has the potential to streamline your business’s operations, reduce costs, and ultimately widen profit margins. What’s more, when your competitors are undergoing such a transformation, the pressure to invest in a solution to avoid being left behind is significant.
However, more so than the technology, and even the choice of technology partner, the main priority for business leaders looking to undergo a successful digital transformation can be found internally. In a word, it’s culture.
Many continue to invest in one-off, off the shelf solutions without putting technology at the heart of their business; a company whose board is open to consider and push technological change will be the one that separates itself from the pack.
People, partners and pilots
While throwing caution to the wind is the right approach, you needn’t strip out your legacy systems overnight. Before the implementation of new technology comes selecting the technology partner to deliver on the vision, and the right choice is paramount to achieving a successful digital transformation.
When choosing a tech vendor to deliver a digital transformation project, ensure that your business’s cultures are aligned. Their ambition, communication style, attention to detail and proactivity are all key indicators, and it’s paramount that you ensure that your team can work smoothly with theirs. In the worst-case scenarios, miscommunication on deliverables and expectations leads to an increase in costs and a poor end product, undermining your original objectives.
Do also plan for the future. The right technology partner will offer more than one solution, with alternatives proactively proposed in the long-term. Propose that you begin by investing in a small project first. A pilot project – that is still bespoke and easier to develop – allows your potential technology partner to prove they understand your objectives and can quickly develop an appropriate solution. Critically, it also allows you to test the profitability of the solution and whether its success can be replicated at a greater scale.
A successful pilot project provides the basis to scale operations, including the replacement of legacy systems, safer in the knowledge that the new solutions will pay dividends. The final step is to work with your partner to carefully and methodically plan the implementation of these new systems.
Becoming a technology-first company
Once you’re settled with your partner, it’s paramount that you maintain the same risk tolerance that led you to this position; technology is a continuous solution, not a one-off investment. With new technologies come potential new customers – each with their own needs – and various new data points from which you can derive greater insight. To fully take advantage of this, be sure to invest in your staff. Look to retrain existing staff or employ a network of universally tech-skilled staff who are able to work in tandem with your technology partner, assess your own internal technology, and make suggestions on what other technological improvements would best serve the business moving forward.
When it comes to recruitment, don’t be afraid to invest in youth. A recent report* suggests that 73% of B2B tech buying committee members are millennials, while under-35s make up 40% of those making the final decisions on technology purchases.
Analysing the data is key in ensuring continuous success; it’ll tell you what to automate, what to cull, and where there’s scope for growth. Getting this right will ensure reduced costs and increased growth and revenue.
At Haulmont, we’ve worked with various partners to assist in a range of digital transformation projects. The Keyholding Company, providers of keyholding and alarm response services, is a prime example of embracing change and thriving as a result. Answer-times have reduced drastically, their entire service has been streamlined, and in the last year alone costs of sales are down 10%, while business growth is up by 15%.
The company has evolved from its specialism in security and is now a technology company first, with 98% of its 500,000 jobs each year handled by automation; previously, a human used to touch every job. As a partner, we’ve become an extension of the business, but it’s something that wouldn’t have been possible without the forward-thinking and risk tolerant approach adopted at the outset.
The right technology is important. The right technology partner is important. But the success of a project is at risk if the teams delivering on objectives are not on the same page. A willingness to embrace change must trickle down from the top if a digital transformation is to be truly transformative.