How Digital Transformation Benefits Your Business Has your business gone digital? The article below is from a Microsoft Business Blog that shows why businesses need to digitally transform their organization to increase productivity, engage customers, and enable growth. While there are many benefits with digital transformation, there are also increased concerns around cybersecurity and data risk. As such, I’ve included some commentary and advice related to network and data security below. Digital transformation, as defined by Constellation Research, is “the methodology in which organizations transform and create new business models and culture with digital technologies.” This transformation is imperative for all businesses. It encourages the use of new and innovative business models and improves the experience of employees, customers, partners and stakeholders through the use of technology. It’s bringing together people, data and processes to create value for your customers and maintain a competitive advantage. Digital transformation can improve profitability, customer satisfaction and increase speed-to-market for any business. However, many business owners are still slow to adopt digital technology because they are concerned about business process costs and focused on short-term revenues. These worries are short-sighted, however, since digital transformation is key to business success. Your business can fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies today or miss out on the incredible value these tools presents to businesses, both small and large scale. The real challenge for many businesses is not whether they should adopt current technology into their existing business processes. Rather, it’s how to maximize digital technology without disrupting their existing business functions. When carefully executed, the benefits are enormous. The change can increase productivity dramatically and offer you the competitive advantage you need to deliver exceptional customer experience. DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION CAN EMPOWER EMPLOYEES TO WORK BETTER, FASTER, AND SMARTER Every business wants its workforce to perform smarter, faster and more productively. Achieving that goal requires innovative solutions to make it easier for your employees to collaborate, communicate and exchange data without restrictions. Cloud productivity solutions like Microsoft Office 365 can help your staff work and collaborate at peak proficiency without wasting time by creating a more streamlined working environment. Office 365 features like Focused Inbox help you better focus on the emails that matter most to you, and @mentions help you focus on what needs attention and better call others’ attention to actions within your emails. Groups in Office 365 allows you to define specific teams and enable their members to collaborate easily, share calendars, exchange files and take and share notes using OneNote. With increasing competition, it has become extremely important to encourage teamwork in the office. Working in teams enables employees to be quicker, more effective and deliver on tasks. Progressive companies are increasingly realizing the value of collaboration to ensure information doesn’t remain in siloes. DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY IMPROVES HOW YOU ENGAGE WITH CONSUMERS AND ENHANCES CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE Customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention have always been important for business survival and growth. A strong customer experience means stronger customer loyalty, more sales, and more new customers through referrals. Your business must spend time identifying how to interact with customers at the right time, in the right place. Once you understand your customers’ journey and behaviors, you’ll be in a strong position to create a digital plan accordingly and begin the process of choosing the right technology you need to carry it out to its fullest. Access to online customer relationship management tools – where you can collect contact information, business website behavior, and customer purchase and service behavior – can significantly enhance your consumer engagement strategy. Customers are reaching out to businesses via so many different channels. It can be hard to keep up and offer them amazing customer experience. It takes good customer data to deliver great service. The right digital tool can help you save time and run your business efficiently whilst you leverage business data to stay ahead of the competition. DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY AND DATA PROTECTION Many organizations are turning to cloud solutions for their critical business applications, data storage, and backup. Cloud solutions are hosted and managed in monitored and controlled facilities, designed to minimize downtime and keep data well protected. If your business is thinking about moving to a cloud solution and centralizing your data storage, here are some things to consider. Create a Data Security Policy A data security policy should be used to define approved methods to securely transfer or share data, and define restricted methods to help stop the use of unsupported or unsafe services and applications. Policies should be very specific on what is acceptable and not acceptable for all employees. They should include information about email policies, mobile devices, social networking, and internet usage. These policies should be documented, communicated (multiple times), enforced, and periodically reviewed and updated. Once your policy is in place, go beyond just emailing it to your employees. Set up meetings and/or training sessions to regularly educate them about the reality of data security, and their role in keeping information safe. Understand Physical and Cybersecurity Controls It’s also important to understand the physical security controls and cybersecurity controls leveraged by the service provider. Physical security controls: Is a badge required to get into the building? Or even better, a fingerprint? Are there multiple doors that you have to go through? Are there cameras? Cybersecurity controls: Are there security services in place, such as firewall protection, network monitoring, and wireless security? Will your data be encrypted? Along with understanding the different security measures, it’s also necessary to understand the provider’s Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for uptime and system availability. In addition, you should understand their policy around data breaches. How do they rectify such an incident? Make sure you fully understand the fine print. Reading and understanding everything about what the provider is expected to do is important, and can help you determine whether or not it’s the right place for your business’s data. DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION ENABLES YOU TO STAY COMPETITIVE The bottom line is that technology is transforming the business world. There is no question that digital transformation is no longer a choice. To stay competitive and survive, build a business that can adapt its technology and strategies rapidly. The key to good technology is that it works for you. Whatever the size of your business, start with a strong digital transformation strategy, and choose the right technology to fit your business objectives. How could your organization benefit more from digital transformation? Rick Fondell Rick Fondell is a seasoned technology professional with sound knowledge in IT software, infrastructure and systems. As a Strategic Business Development Executive with Aureon Technology, he consults and collaborates with enterprise clients across the Midwest. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Upper Iowa University.