Digitisation is front of mind for most leading global businesses, as well as start-ups and SMEs across industries. CTOs, CIOs and their Board colleagues know that digitising can deliver unprecedented efficiencies, savings, connections and customer experience at levels that drive significant competitive advantage.
However, around 7 in 10 of all digital transformations fail to achieve their goals. Despite detailed planning, collaborating across departments and extensive consumer testing, the introduction or improvement of new technologies often fails for the simplest of reasons: the wrong tools. Our technical specialists reveal how world-leading companies have selected and harnessed the right systems and tech products to arm their IT teams for success.
How to Choose the Right Systems for Your Business
In the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), there are thousands of tools to choose from. Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools are top of wish lists for 72% of IT Directors, CIOs and CTOs eager to deliver 24/7 availability alongside reduced costs and risks. Internet of Things (IoT) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are also high on IT leadership priorities. Emerging technologies, increased connectivity across different networks and a wide variety of suppliers can prove overwhelming to the most seasoned IT leader.
Follow these golden rules when selecting your tech stack:
- Assess based on specific criteria that are directly related to the goals and objectives of the transformation project. In some cases, this may be your existing or legacy systems, but your team will need to assess existing products alongside new possibilities. Get rid of systems with little business value and take a strategic view focused on which tools will provide the best company outcome.
- Although CIOs and CTOs are not likely to be swayed by the shiniest new gadgets, other departments might be, especially those who are seeking a digital solution to their team’s current frustrations. Question other colleagues as rigorously as you’re assessing systems: why do they want this product? What value do they perceive it will bring? Is this accurate, and could something else better fulfil their needs whilst integrating more closely with other systems and supporting the business better?
- Keep a long-term view of the project whilst balancing detailed analysis of individual product options. Map out how all systems and tools will work together and how they will integrate to ensure the combination will serve transformation goals and departments across the business.
- Limit the quantity of tools and systems to those that are absolutely necessary and truly the best for the job. Every piece of tech increases the amount of supplier management, training and upskilling required from IT teams and any department using it.
The Technology Tools You Need to Digitise Your Business
Starting at the very beginning, project management tools are the most effective and efficient ways to plan any project, particularly something as complex and wide-reaching as digitising an entire company. Whilst CIOs and CTOs will likely be familiar with such tools and concepts as Critical Path and Kanban, other leaders and teams across departments will not. If teams are unable to use the tools quickly and simply, in a way that they understand and which supports them in their own day-to-day work, long-term adoption will be low. Aesthetics and user experience are vital to create and maintain employee buy-in.
Managing projects using a dedicated system will help your teams take control of their own project responsibilities and empower them to succeed in all project goals where they have involvement. Anyone across departments can create and schedule required tasks, communicate with everyone else on the project team and stay on track with visibility over their own milestones. Notifications, email automation and document upload capabilities all facilitate information sharing. Visibility of the entire digitisation project, in addition to detailed granularity, enables managers to monitor progress without micromanagement.
The best equipment of any type is something that everyone uses across levels and functions, which safeguards project continuity and highlights any changes or problems as soon as they arise. Project management tools mean more productive employees who are closely aligned with project outcomes, continuous communication and, therefore, continuous project progress, and consistent direction with a full overview of stages and activities. Some of the most effective project management solutions include Asana, Trello, Monday, ClickUp and Jira.
Cloud Computing and Cloud Data Storage
Dell reports that businesses that invest in cloud and mobility achieve 53% higher revenue growth than competitors that do not. This figure is unsurprising given the benefits of cloud storage and cloud solutions: faster systems and processes, flexibility to meet employee and customer needs as the business scales up, and constant connections between customers, their products and services, and your business. Without hardware, IT teams are empowered to quickly remove or increase capacity on demand.
A digital revolutionary in itself, digital transformation projects present the perfect opportunity to introduce cloud mobility. Remote workers and those based in outsourced hubs across the world are increasingly relying on cloud systems just to access their work, in addition to sharing information and connecting with colleagues. Transitioning away from physical storage ensures that data and the wealth of insights provided can be accessed anywhere at any time, as soon as needed, making for instant customer support and maintaining business continuity and responsiveness at all times.
Cloud also keeps and protects all your data regardless of which employees leave your business, which new laptops or hardware are installed, or what happens to affect your local PCs and other machines (such as viruses). Even if your offices suffer a major power outage or your worksite locations are rendered unusable due to a natural disaster like flooding, leaders and teams can access everything they need to do their job, wherever they are in the world. Cloud-based services provide quick data recovery in emergencies and during any transition and update processes. Cloud data recovery is often much faster than the alternative: one in five cloud users claim disaster recovery in under four hours, whereas only 9% of non-cloud users can claim the same.
Cyber Security & Legal Compliance
From small businesses to hospitals to personal products, cyber security is of urgent importance. Digitisation and global connectivity of the world present more avenues to attack, hackers are growing increasingly sophisticated, and the combination of mass poverty and mass mobile adoption is presenting scamming as a viable career in developing countries.
Customers are increasingly concerned about cyber security, particularly when it comes to online transactions and products that incorporate emerging tech or connectivity. 66% of small businesses are concerned about the cyber security of their suppliers, over a third of connected car owners are very concerned that a cyberattack or virus could damage their vehicle, and e-commerce businesses experience 32% of all cyberattacks. Whilst some cloud computing tools have recently proved to deliver high-security standards, compliance regulations like the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) require businesses to take extra security measures.
Secure, accurate and sophisticated accounting and payroll software underpins cybersecurity and compliance. The best software will protect customers’ and employees’ personal and financial data, provide access and insights only to those who need it, and alert finance teams to discrepancies and errors. By nature, payroll and accounting require repetitive, intricate work involving a lot of admin and sensitive data. Investing in effective digital tools for your HR and finance teams can help accelerate processes, mitigate risk, free up time for more strategic and valuable tasks, and deliver savings through efficiencies and avoiding £million fines.
When evaluating potential payroll and accountancy software, consider:
- Integrations – Including cloud mobility and CRM connectivity
- Ease of use – Your finance team will often need to securely access customer details at a moment’s notice and provide urgent checks on payments
- Automation – To increase efficiencies and reduce the risk of delayed/inaccurate payments with automated payroll, expenses and invoicing
- Analytics and reporting capabilities – Empower your finance team with a dashboard and custom reports to monitor spend, cash flow, debtors and creditors to aid with business continuity and identify a supplier or customer management issues.
Tried and trusted payroll and accounting tools, including Sage, SAP ERP, Payfit and Workday.
Whilst project management tools will empower communication between everyone involved in the digitisation itself, communicating with the rest of the organisation will help all employees to understand and support digitisation and ensure they benefit from new systems and processes.
Hybrid and remote working are increasingly popular since the pandemic. Post-Covid, 72% of office workers want to work from home at least three days per week, with only 9% wanting to return to the office full-time. Balancing flexibility with effective collaboration between teams requires an excellent communication tool. Many tools are specifically designed for teams spread across locations and time zones and unite individuals through one channel.
A dedicated communication tool delivers efficiencies even for teams based in the same office or worksite. Proper storage and visibility of information (rather than scrolling through email chains) saves individuals significant amounts of time and administrative effort every week, meaning happier employees and more productive teams. Employees will be free to use collaboration time for idea generation and creative problem-solving rather than trying to get up to speed with recent actions. Communication tools enable faster progress towards digitisation goals and a transformation based on quality rather than ticking boxes.
Some of the most popular digital communication tools include Slack, Blink, Microsoft Teams (easily combined with other products including Excel, Word and PowerPoint) and Google Chat (combined with Google Meet and Google products).
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are a core part of any transformation strategy, both in terms of providing customer insights and in delivering the direct benefits of digitisation to customers.
Anyone involved in IT, marketing and sales knows that customer expectations are continuously growing. Whilst company values are increasingly important to consumers – especially those in Gen Z and Millennial groups who are more likely to remain loyal to sustainable and ethical brands – customer demand for faster, higher quality products with seamless digital experiences means that if your company can’t keep up, they will find a competitor who can.
All large and medium-sized businesses will already have a CRM, but many won’t be using the right CRM for their employee and customer needs, and the majority won’t be leveraging all features for optimum effect. The best CRMs will act as more than a data entry point and serve as two-way communication between your salespeople and their audiences. Start by meeting with the heads of your sales to ask them about their pain points and challenges with your current system and what they would need from their ideal alternative. Sit down and watch how junior and senior salespeople use the current system to uncover exactly what is missing and what would make their customer communication and sales process faster and more effective.
Up-to-date, relevant customer data is integral to successful digitisation projects. Existing data can provide insights into what customers most value and most need from your products and their online experience with your company. Implementing the right CRM as part of the digital transformation will ensure your go-to-market strategy is continually evolving at the same time as customer needs and expectations evolve. The right data informing the right insights and the right actions can help your company anticipate customer needs before they arise, to retain existing customers and gain market share where competitors are not delivering.
When evaluating CRMs, consider:
- Integration – Does it integrate with the other tools you propose to adopt, and is this communication two-way?
- Usability – Is it simple for salespeople to use, does the supplier offer training, and does it address the needs of your sales team?
- AI, ML and Automation – Does it have functionality that will aid customer communication, notify marketing when a customer is ready to engage and alert support teams to customer problems or frustrations?
- Analytics – Will you be able to create bespoke reports customised to your business and derive real value from the insights this produces?
The right CRMs allow sales and marketing departments to store and continuously update knowledge about your customers in real-time. Accurate data informs everything the marketing team does: from collateral such as presentations and brochures positioning your company offering to address customer needs to writing blog content and creating campaigns that focus on customer interests, current situation and immediate and long-term needs. The best CRMs will integrate with your Content Management System (CMS) to empower marketing to use this data most effectively.
Examples of popular Customer Relationship Management systems include Salesforce, Oracle, HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics and Zoho.
Recruiting the Best Tech Teams for Digital Transformation
The right tools are just part of a successful digital transformation – the best technologies are implemented by the most skilled specialists. Templeton have spent 26 years’ building IT teams for world-leading companies across 40 locations – find out about our award-winning recruitment services.
Read our Report on 6 Ways CTOs and CIOs are Effectively Supporting Hybrid Working.