Digital Innovation: What is Digital Transformation?
The idea of digital transformation in business encompasses a variety of looks, depending on where you glance – at its core, this concept refers to the adoption of technology to enhance one or more business processes through digital innovation. Moreover, it’s not a one-off event but rather a series of persistent changes that manifest at key points in time when technology evolves to be able to support new, disruptive ideas. For some, digital transformation occurs with a single piece of dynamic software while others understand it truly is an ongoing process that seeks to comprehensively modernize and improve all areas of a business by aligning with current, valuable trends in technology.-
Because digital transformation is varied in its application, the question, “What is digital transformation?” is much like asking, “What is transportation?” In the case of the latter, transportation can be walking, riding a skateboard, using a micro-mobility solution, taking a flight, and so on.
With that said, driving forces behind digital transformation have several commonalities that include:
- Reducing labor costs by automating processes that formerly required human interaction.
- Increasing capabilities of mobile and cloud technology to solve problems more efficiently.
- Eliminating contact between people to mitigate the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19.
- Learning more about processes and interactions through data.
- Enhancing security for digital processes while simultaneously improving convenience for users.
Here, we’re going to explain why digital transformation is important for businesses by looking at how it helps accomplish goals, identifying where it’s used, and covering some examples that showcase successful initiatives.
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What is digital transformation: how it helps businesses accomplish their goals
Successful digital transformation is much more than just bringing a new piece of equipment into a business or buying a sophisticated piece of software. Another major component of this idea is the useful application of new technology to make processes more efficient and profitable.
For example, let’s say that a company adopted a new fintech solution that can handle all of their financial processes from accounts payable, processing invoices, payroll, and beyond. Instead of tying all their accounts into the platform to take advantage of all the system’s features, the business leaves some elements disconnected such as the components they need to process payroll and pay vendors. They continue to use fragmented systems to manage certain financial processes such that the company experiences no benefit from their new technology that offers digital innovation.
To truly experience digital transformation from technology, a product needs to be used in such a way that it makes a positive impact on operations.
Depending on the nature of a business, efforts need to focus on appropriate categories relevant to their model. A few ways that companies benefit from effectively using technology as part of a digital transformation process include:
- Better engaging with customers through platforms that offer communication features and feedback tools.
- Increasing conversion by making information and products or accessible through the web. Compared to their mobile website counterparts, eCommerce apps convert around 157% better.
- Automating manual processes with software or machines that use intelligent algorithms.
- Faster delivery of content to users by optimizing processes to take advantage of high-bandwidth mediums like 5G.
- Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to analyze and interpret datasets.
- Increasing collaboration between team members with communication platforms that offer tools for sharing data and simultaneous file editing.
Leveraging technology as part of a digital transformation is a journey that should seek to enhance performance in at least one area of operation although ideal efforts effectively bridge multiple processes with technology as part of a multi-faceted solution. In most (but not all) cases, a new digital product like a website or an app has the potential to improve business efficiency by affecting more than one department or process. In retail, a common example is a modern website that relies on a new, connected database to track and manage inventory. When properly integrated, this can serve to help businesses both sell inventory over the web as well as help with back-of-house operations like directly interfacing with the supply chain and managing inventory.
The one commonality found in most digital transformation endeavors is automation such that it removes the need for human intervention in part or whole. The result of these endeavors is often improved efficacy for the affected processes which translates to cost savings and in turn, higher profits.
Where are some specific areas that digital transformation is improving business?
Businesses spanning every industry have substantial opportunities to both genuinely transform and optimize existing processes by adopting new technology. To be more specific, a few areas where digital innovation makes a significant contribution to business are explained below.
Applying digital innovation to sales and marketing
Digital transformation is being used to furnish an effective customer experience through marketing and sales. The easier it is for customers to find products and services, the more likely they are to buy. Websites and mobile apps that blend useful information with digital elements that make navigation intuitive allow visitors to seamlessly browse which is vital for new business. Converting these individuals into paying customers relies on empathy communicated through marketing collateral – while some customers are easily sold, many are more inclined to do some homework before making a purchase. As such, most journeys begin with digital marketing that grabs a prospect’s attention on high-traffic channels then directs them to a site or app where they’ll often spend time digesting information about your product or service.
Marketers are using a variety of distribution methods to maximize the exposure of their product on multiple digital channels. One of the most popular ways that companies are gaining attention through the web is by using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to get eyes on their product. Through paid advertisements, digital marketers can target the proper audience to drop posts into the news feeds of potential buyers.
One of the reasons this is such an effective tool for digital transformation in marketing is because the average user in the US spends as much as two hours and three minutes a day on average using social media. This gives businesses an inexpensive, high-visibility tactic to quickly engage with potential buyers and encourage them to either visit a site or install a mobile app.
The most effective setups funnel visitors to conversion-oriented pages that offer appealing information as well as features to effectively complete the sales process. Many companies further offer AI-based systems for product recommendations which reveal additional purchasing options that regularly entice the customer to spend more. Once the sale is complete, businesses that continue to send promotional content to the customer’s email or through push notifications keep customers engaged which typically results in returning business.
Another useful feature that’s seen in great digital transformation efforts is the use of chatbots for everything from sales to customer service. These systems can help answer questions leading up to a sale as well as serve as the first point of contact in resolving customer service issues. Often, a well-designed chatbot can intelligently handle many requests that typically require human interaction which helps businesses save on labor expenses.
A glance at digital transformation in the supply chain
Many SMEs and large corporations in industries like construction, healthcare, agriculture, and more are digitizing efforts by integrating intelligent systems on the backend for supply chain management. Advances in supply-chain technologies that bring intelligence to sourcing and moving items help in areas like improving digital fulfillment, shedding like on risk optimization, and enhancing corporate control.
For example, supply chain management systems are using a combination of AI and ML in ERP systems to help with demand forecasting by analyzing current buying trends and comparing them against future projections. These solutions can help in multiple areas by connecting with vendors to automatically procure materials, determine outcomes of certain purchasing configurations to uncover potential risks, rework logistics with shipping and receiving to be more efficient, and much more.
Digital transformation for low-tech processes and products
In the restaurant industry, businesses were once able to thrive by relying on a flow of both dine-in and carry-out customers with virtually no modern technology. Eventually, ordering systems that allow staff to digitally take customer’s orders and transmit them to the kitchen became staples for many locations followed by a handful of other modern solutions.
As the technology for the restaurant industry evolved, customer expectations followed suit. Now, many restaurants offer web-based ordering, either through a website or an app, as well as delivery options from third-party providers like DoorDash, Uber Eats, Postmates, and others. By adopting solutions that allow customers to place digital orders, speed and accuracy increase which allows the restaurant to more efficiently process orders as well as reduce errors. Too, delivery services have proven to be extremely effective at increasing sales as have apps that offer loyalty rewards.
Contactless ordering solutions have been invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic as most areas enforced rules that prohibited in-door dining. Simple, intuitive systems for placing orders helped restaurants navigate challenges while minding regulations that intend to control the spread of the virus. Systems that allow customers to place orders themselves also reduces the time that staff needs to interact with customers when placing an order.
To shift gears, digital innovation is being creatively applied to products like bicycles to track, analyze, and gamify riding. Following suit with fitness apps, solutions like the Huffy Biking App are bringing modern technology into the mix with the intent of making rides more engaging by offering challenges and rewards. Beyond exercise, gamification serves to increase user motivation, thus increasing the amount of time they spend and the effort they exert on any given platform. By working in special offers and other promotions, users are more likely to spend money which means more profit for the company.
What is digital transformation: a look at apps that offer digital innovation
Apps are substantial contributors to digital transformation endeavors, often opening doors for businesses that can’t be opened otherwise. In some cases, apps are the primary interface for a service meaning businesses must do everything in their power to ensure their software is well-designed and feature-rich. In other cases, seemingly small software features make a huge difference for organizations.
1. Banking and a look at Chime
Banking is one industry where technology has played a massive role in each department, making everything happen faster with more accuracy. For core banking services like account hosting via checking and savings programs, we’ve found that apps can essentially replace brick-and-mortar locations as is the case with Chime bank.
The Chime service was initially founded in 2013 and eventually evolved into a digital service for fee-free banking. The app and web platform allow customers to manage their finances as they would with any other bank but without the need to perform any task in person, aside from the occasional ATM visit or when depositing cash. Chime proves that simple banking can be accomplished entirely through a well-designed app.
2. Healthcare apps are transforming people’s lives
Like banking, healthcare is one area of business where digital transformation is occurring everywhere. There are apps like sophisticated booking apps that expedite patient intake and scheduling, eHealth apps that monitor patient activity and vitals, apps that tie into a facility’s EMR system, as well as a ton of fitness apps in circulation.
A great example of an app that has made an impact on digital transformation in healthcare is Medscape which is one of the most downloaded medical apps on the App Store. Made for clinicians, Medscape puts information at the fingertips of medical providers by linking them with medical news in 34 fields of medicine. Medscape also provides a clinical reference section that can be used to research information on all kinds of conditions which helps professionals connect the dots when determining drug and other treatment options.
3. Transforming manufacturing with apps
Apps contribute to modern manufacturing in a variety of different ways. Manufacturing is one area where inventory management is a pressing issue which apps like NetSuite Manufacturing Edition from Oracle aim to solve by providing tools for tracking products and managing warehouse functions. Powerful dashboards provide insights that allow businesses to make decisions quicker by tying in supply chain data from vendors.
Manufacturing is one area where there are immense opportunities for machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) apps. For example, computer vision could aid some operations significantly by providing a mechanism to help categorize items produced which aids in the documentation process. Truly, computer vision has a ton of applications in manufacturing as it can also be used to optimize production by playing a role in QA, just to name one of many examples.
4. Reaching more customers in retail and eCommerce
Online shopping has become the most prevalent way that people buy goods and services so it’s an ideal place to look for answers with regards to, “What is digital transformation?” Stores that formerly relied on people walking through the doors greatly increase their sales by furnishing an app or a web-platform. Take a look at Walmart and its app – Walmart is one of the most successful retail chains in the US plus, its online services give customers access to many additional items that can’t be found in stores. Even luxury brands like Gucci have opened themselves to the digital world by offering an app that makes their items more accessible to buyers.
While figures vary, it’s been observed that more than half of smartphone owners make purchases using a mobile device. Retail has observed significant digital transformation as virtually every successful business around the world uses a mobile app (or at least a website) to sell products and services. Brick and mortar locations also benefit from integrating systems like QR codes, geofencing, and Bluetooth beacons to bridge in-person shopping with online platforms. To “make it” as a successful online retail business, an app is a necessary component.
5. Telecommunications is all app-based
Email is dead and so is the landline. These lingering technologies serve little purpose today outside of being a formality with solutions like Slack, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and the many others on the market towering over traditional telecom.
Overall, communication has transformed more than anything over the last 20 years as it is an integral part of virtually every digital transformation endeavor. With communication shifting to apps, we’ve come to expect that we can not only contact people we know in an instant but also communicate with businesses.
Companies need to recognize that communication tools whether plugins or standalone apps are how customers prefer to communicate. Apps often “do it better” than traditional calling solutions so businesses must look to options like Twilio and other tools that can be used to improve communications with modern interfaces.
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Blue Label Labs work in digital transformation
While there are a ton of general ways digital innovation is being used to improve all aspects of business, our successes provide excellent examples that further answer the question, “What is digital transformation?”. Many of the following examples are based on digital products that we have released to the marketplaces over the years.
MagicMoney brings ticket processing for venues to the modern era. The contactless ticketing system we built on top of Clover for MagicMoney brings digital innovation to venues and carnivals – the app works in conjunction with an RFID-based wristband system that can be printed onsite. Attendees can upload cash to the system which enables them to securely pay for attractions by simply presenting their wristband. This greatly reduces the time for individuals to check-in to the venue and engage with paid attractions. Guests don’t have to hassle with cash (or other payment forms) which streamlines their experience by allowing them to simply scan and go. MagicMoney effectively transforms the event industry by reducing human labor, minimizing shrinkage and fraud that tend to occur in busy environments, as well as increasing customer satisfaction.
The Delve platform brings ML-based generative design to urban development projects. The Delve platform we developed alongside the Google subsidiary, Sidewalk Labs, brings greater insights to development projects while reducing risks. Before modern generative design, architects and engineers would need to collaborate to manually develop designs and specs for urban planning and other large building projects which were both incredibly time and prone to error. The platform allows users to input the parameters of a project and develop an initial design that is used by the system to produce multiple variations based on a project’s priorities and constraints. In this case study, you can learn about how UK-based real estate developer, Quintain, used delve to produce 24 high-performing variants from 40,000 designs in just eight weeks for a large apartment in Wembley Park.
Improved patient onboarding for the RMA Network. The RMA Network serves the community by providing fertility services for couples trying to conceive a child. In the past, the onboarding process was executed with pen and paper which was labor-intensive, cumbersome, and subject to mistakes. By developing the My Reproductive Portal, the onboarding process is automated which considerably reduces the time it takes to collect and review information. The portal provides an experience for a patient’s reproductive journey by acting as a central repository of information where users can access lab results, clinical information, and much more. This eliminates labor needed to onboard patients, speeds up the process, increases visibility, and most importantly, increases patient satisfaction.
A new wave of fitness is being ushered in because of systems like JAXJOX. Fitness has evolved quite a bit in the last decade thanks to fitness tracking apps that brought a wave of digital innovation to the industry. The JAXJOX system offers a first-of-its-kind solution for weight training that connects users with on-demand, virtual fitness sessions, and pre-recorded routines. It also offers a sophisticated tracking and analytics system for measuring performance in addition to featuring gamification mechanisms that help keep users motivated. Thanks to apps like the system offered by JAXJOX, users get more out of their equipment through interactive classes as well as much deeper insights into their performance when compared to low-tech solutions from previous generations.
Tide Laundromat brings digital transformation to your laundry. Laundromats have subsisted on coin-operated machines for decades which is inconvenient for both users who need to maintain a supply of quarters and those tasked with emptying the machines and counting the money. We worked with the people at Tide to create an app that connects users with their laundromat sites and provides a couple of helpful features. Users can see how many machines are occupied at a location which can prevent an unneeded trip in cases when a location is packed. It also offers a payment system that allows users to easily select a machine and securely pay with stored payment information. This system eliminates a substantial amount of labor by removing the need to collect and count coins from machines, plus it’s considerably more accurate and faster.
Blue Label Labs is a leader in digital transformation
At Blue Label Labs, we employ the best-of-the-best to build software for everyone from the sole entrepreneur to the Fortune 500 company – we are the answer to, “What is digital transformation?” We bring digital innovation to the market by challenging the status quo and imagining how modern technology can maximize value for our customer’s ideas. We have proven through our designs that we take our client’s vision to the next level through planning and execution.
Digital transformation is central to what we do – beyond building apps, we engage companies by exploring the entire scope of digital initiatives by analyzing businesses’ current processes and identifying pain points to provide well-designed optimizations through digital processes. If you’re looking to bring digital transformation to your business, get in touch with us to learn more.