5 key elements to successfully achieve your business digital transformation

Integrating technology is now essential to remaining competitive and meeting ever-changing demand. A good way to guarantee a successful digital shift is to put people first. Learn how.

Sophie Robillard By Sophie Robillard Suivez-la sur LinkedIn Thomas Martinuzzo and Thomas Martinuzzo Suivez-la sur LinkedIn

Some companies already shifted to digital several years ago. Now, with COVID-19, many small- and medium-sized businesses in Québec are suddenly making the transition.

To stand out in a world of ever-evolving technology, you must be equipped to keep up with changing markets and meet your customers' needs. And to do so, you need to put people at the heart of your transformation. Here's how.

1. Ask yourself the right questions and find clear answers

Your digital transformation can take different forms for different companies: setting up a digital inventory, creating a transactional website, or automating certain administrative processes or part of a factory's production line.

Before embarking on a digital transformation journey, it's important to identify the problem you want to solve or the goals you want to achieve. This will allow you to focus on solutions that meet your actual needs.

Next, take stock of your current situation. This will help you determine where you're at so that you can plan where you want to go and how to get there.

Before starting your digital transformation, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my current assets, strengths, and abilities?
  • Where does my business fit in the market?
  • What problem do I want to solve?
  • Will digital technology be a driver of growth for the company?
  • What products and services best meet my customers' needs and set my business apart from the competition?
  • How can I involve my partners, customers, and employees in this digital shift?

2. Be customer-centric

All markets constantly evolve to keep up with changing technology, consumer needs, and new trends. A company that wants to ensure its long-term success must review its business model and practices to prosper. The goal of all this? To adapt to the needs and expectations of an increasingly demanding clientele.

To increase the chances of your digital transformation being successful, you need to know your customers, recognize the value they bring to your business, and adapt to their evolving needs to deliver a personalized, value-added experience. Each interaction with a customer is an opportunity to gather information that will help you further personalize your products and services.

To be customer-centric, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which 20 percent of my customers account for 80 percent of my revenue?
  • What do my customers want?
  • How are they changing and how can I adapt my value proposition accordingly?
  • What kind of experience would I like to give them?
  • Which channel, traditional or digital, should I focus on for each stage of the customer journey to create a smooth, personalized experience?
  • Who are my current customers and who would I like to attract?
  • How do I attract and engage profitable customers?

3. Seize the opportunity that's right for you

There's more than one way to go digital, whether that transformation takes place in the form of B2C or Industry 4.0. While you may be aiming for a short- or medium-term goal to begin with, you need to think about your long-term transformation.

You then need to ask yourself some strategic questions:

  • How will digital technology fit into our overall strategy? What role will it play?
  • What is our digital vision for the next 18 to 24 months? What do we want our business to look like in 3 to 5 years?
  • What are our business goals?
  • Do we need short-, medium-, or long-term partners to help us achieve these goals?
  • Do we have the right talent to carry out this project?
  • What level of digital sophistication should we aim for, considering how our competitors, partners, and customers are evolving in our industry?
  • What investments do we need to make to achieve our vision?

The solution you're looking for may not exist yet, so be open to coming up with something totally new! Be creative and surround yourself with the right talent to achieve your goals, because the driving force behind any digital transformation is people.


Industry 4.0 in a nutshell

Following automation and electrification, Industry 4.0 is the ongoing evolution of the manufacturing sector. It involves digitizing the industry and using real-time data. With Industry 4.0, you can boost business productivity, reduce production costs, and improve the quality of delivered products. Robotization, mobile communications, and information technology are tools to achieve this transformation.

4. Leverage people and your internal teams

No matter what type of digital transformation you aspire to, it will mean integrating new technologies into your business to change the way you do things. This requires conveying a clear vision within your company, supporting and training your employees, and involving all your teams.

To support your customer promise, you need to make sure you have the right processes, talent, and technological tools. You're embarking on a complete organizational shift.

To get your teams behind your vision and have it permeate your corporate culture, consider doing the following:
  • Share your vision and goals with your employees.
  • Hold regular meetings to inform them about upcoming projects and their impact on the company, both internally and externally.
  • Involve your employees in finding solutions and implementing your vision.
  • Make sure that, from the start, you have a team dedicated to carrying out your digital transformation.
  • Give your employees the tools and training they need to achieve your goals.
  • Use pilot projects to gradually make your vision a reality with your teams—think baby steps.
  • Ensure that the people who will be affected by the project (employees, customers, partners) will quickly benefit from it.

Pilot projects

When it comes to a digital transformation to Industry 4.0, consider setting up smaller and more concrete pilot projects so that everyone at your company understands your vision and has the chance to buy into it. With smaller technological projects, it's easier to achieve positive results in the short term. You can then build on these wins to bring your 4.0 vision to life and ensure employee engagement.

5. Have a plan and stick to it

To deliver a smooth and optimal customer experience at all points of contact throughout your company, you need to adapt your processes throughout the operational value chain.

Plan your investments accordingly; going digital is a continuous process. Break down your vision into projects and steps, and determine the associated costs. Without a plan, you risk making mistakes and not achieving your goals.

With a structured plan, you can do the following:

  • Determine your goals and the path to achieve them.
  • Optimize your processes throughout your operational value chain.
  • Assess and focus your efforts on priority items.
  • Ensure your different distribution and communication channels complement one another.
  • Measure the impact of your initiatives.

This plan will enable you to rally your troops to achieve your goals, since the success of your digital transformation will always depend on your employees.

At the end of the day, transitioning your business to digital requires a significant, if not radical, modification of the many processes and models you have in place. Involving your employees from the start will ensure your transformation is a success. Personalized support is also a good way to help you achieve your corporate vision.

Putting employees at the centre of your digital transformation (French only)

Watch our webinar and see how two partner companies – Marc-André Lebeau, president of Bicycles Quilicot and Jean-François Dufresne, president of Preverco – made the digital transition (in French only).