Ever since the shutdowns of 2020 at the start of COVID-19, consumers have rapidly become more digitally connected than ever. They’ve become accustomed to digital self-service for life admin-type tasks, many have embraced remote work and have less patience for slow, convoluted processes than ever. At this point, the idea of driving across town to fill out a paper form is enough to make many consumers think, “Is there another company I can switch to that won’t make me do this?” 

As a result, we’ve seen a “digital gap” begin to form due to consumer behavior evolving faster than many businesses. It’s on organizations to ensure they have the digital infrastructure in place to meet demand. But to keep up with consumer behavior, updating your technology alone isn’t enough. Keep reading for 4 tips to building a digital transformation that helps you keep up with your digital-first customers. 

Close the Digital Gap: 4 Tips to Keep Up with Your Digital-First Customers 

1. Don’t Go for Quick Fixes: Define Your End-Line Vision

Digital transformation can be intimidating because it’s a substantial lift if you do it right. This reality has prompted many organizations to take baby steps as a compromise, making short-term goals without any end-line vision. But this only leads to minor improvements as they spot-treat problems as they arise. Ultimately, these organizations find themselves playing a constant game of catch-up while their more agile competitors disrupt their industry by surprising and delighting their digitally savvy customers.  

For that reason, it’s well worth your time and resources to develop a full vision of where your organization wants to be, with specific, measurable goals. To ensure your vision covers all your bases, be sure to: 

✔️ Perform thorough research on your industry, trend forecasts, and what makes your customers tick. Transformation is about the value you wish to provide your clients and customers, so it’s vital to know them well. 

✔️ Check in with your employees. They know your business processes best and will be able to give valuable feedback on what’s working and what isn’t, which can inform your vision for change. And don’t overlook staff members who regularly speak with customers and prospects, like customer support representatives and sales executives. They will have extra insights straight from the source. 

✔️ Decide how you will incorporate big data, AI, and machine learning technologies to gain insights that inform strategy and improve operations. Since data is such a critical asset for successful businesses today, it should be considered at every level of your digital transformation, from planning and implementation to your business’ indefinite future. 

✔️ Develop strategies for managing change, promoting a digital-first mindset, and fostering a culture of continuous learning and innovation. Ensure there is clear communication about the vision and the benefits it brings to encourage buy-in from all levels of the organization. 

How to Champion Change Management at Every Step of Digital Transformation
How to Champion Change Management at Every Step of Digital Transformation

Get more advice on how to incorporate change management into every stage of your digital transformation.

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With your baseline goals set, you can move on to setting the short, mid, and long-term objectives that will help you achieve your vision and close that digital gap. 

2. Get Support from Your Executives

To achieve the comprehensive digital transformation necessary to wow your customers, you need full support from top management. Big change comes with some heavy resistance. If you’re going to adapt to change together, the top executives need to demonstrate leadership and clearly explain the goals and expectations of the digital strategy across the organization.  

They also need to emphasize how the change will positively benefit both the business and employees themselves – better insight into customers, cooperative ways of working, and more effective processes. 

To get your C-suite on board to play this key role, you’ll need to win them over first. Here are 5 tips we’ve seen be successful with digital transformation champions in your situation: 

  1. Emphasize both change and continuity: Show how the proposed change will support brand continuity and improve past efforts, not erase or replace them. 
  2. Start from ground zero: Cover all your bases and ensure your audience is up to speed on the high-level “why” behind your digital transformation, the specific problems it will solve, and your strategic plan. 
  3. Understand the C-suite’s currencies: Speak to their concerns, values, and desires by answering the question, “How will it make my life easier?” and explaining how your vision supports corporate values and goals. 
  4. Demonstrate estimated ROI: Present data to demonstrate how current systems and processes are impacting time, money, and company reputation. 
  5. Bring backup: Recruit experienced senior-level team members as sponsors to bolster your messaging and answer questions during the pitch.

3. Boost Employee Support and Adoption by Centering People

Keeping up with your digitally savvy customers will likely involve implementing complex new technologies. But to let these investments have the full impact they need to on your customers, you need to ensure your team has the skills and knowledge to use the new digital system. To make it happen, you need to create an upskilling and reskilling program.  

Upskilling happens when your staff needs to improve their current skills and expand their abilities. Reskilling comes into play when they need to be retrained in a completely fresh set of skills so they can take on a new role. Whichever route your digital transformation calls for, here are some tips to make it happen: 

  • Conduct a skills gap analysis by determining what your employees already know and what they will need to know post-transformation. This way, you’ll have a comprehensive view of what skills you will need to prepare training for and establish goals to get your employees up to speed. 
  • Promote a culture of citizen innovation. When your employees start to learn new skills, encourage them to find ways to use them and share their ideas. You can also include them in activities like the discovery process behind automation projects. By witnessing digital transformation take shape and develop in front of them, they can feel motivated to innovate themselves.  
  • Start small. Don’t rush into your program by getting too many people involved right away. Begin by forming a few groups of knowledge workers, train them, and motivate them to start using their skills. As they gain more knowledge and become comfortable with finding ways to innovate, they and others can gradually get used to the idea. Eventually, it can become a natural part of the company culture. 
  • Schedule learning in smaller doses. Microlearning or breaking up your employees’ education into shorter segments can suit the schedule of your busy staff. This can also avoid your employees from feeling overwhelmed or burnt out. 
  • Consider using simulations and hands-on training tools like RPA. If your employees need to operate machines or equipment or deal with emergencies, these methods can assist them. Also, collaborate with experts in the topic to create curriculums. 
  • Plan rewards. To make your program more fun and motivating, you can include rewards based on goals and other indicators. 
  • Create a program marketing plan. Communicating your learning programs to your employees in a strategic way can help them embrace the idea. Use messaging that show how the program can enhance your people’s skills, boost their worth, and grow their careers. It’s frankly the truth, but in the chaos of change, it can be easy to panic and overlook these long-term personal and professional benefits. 

Depending on your budget and goals, however, it might be more realistic to partner with a managed services provider. By definition, managed services providers allow organizations to supplement or outsource the administration, optimization, and expansion of their solutions to a team of experts. But they can also spearhead the training process and offer extra hands to ease your digital transformation transition.  

When it comes to training, your managed services provider can offer dedicated team members who can guide your employees with personalized coaching and hands-on experiences. This way, the learning process is more engaging, leading to faster learning. It also means you won’t have to put as much effort into creating a comprehensive training plan for the skills in question.  

Managed services can also ease your digital transformation transition. One of our customers, an energy infrastructure company, relied on Naviant Managed Services for their complex OnBase implementation, involving a spin-off from another organization. After the implementation, they continued their partnership for long-term support, eliminating the need for internal staff. Our proactive onboarding of the managed services team before the go-live phase ensured a smooth transition and provided additional support as needed. And because you likely won’t need these specific managed services offerings forever, you can scale your service options up or down as needed.  

4. Create a Data Strategy

Remember when new technology used to be able to perform a function until it performed too poorly to justify keeping? Now, we’re seeing new technologies like AI with the ability to constantly learn and self-improve using data, making them become increasingly efficient and effective every day. As these tools continue to gain in popularity, accessibility, and complexity, incorporating them into your business strategy is no longer just “nice to have,” but a vitality to remain competitive. And the continuous improvement AI can help you achieve is exactly what you need to meet your customers’ ever-changing demands and close the digital gap dividing you. 

Your goal should be to incorporate these technologies into your business processes, allowing you to achieve more efficiencies. AI can work with other enterprise software, analyzing data and making decisions 24/7, 365. While traditional automation has its limits, operationalized AI technology can take on more complex, repetitive tasks. With AI-powered automation, the range of what we can accomplish is much wider, enabling a more powerful transformation. 

Close the Digital Gap 

Keeping up with digital-first customers is vital for businesses to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced digital landscape. To do so, businesses must define their end-line vision, get support from executives, boost employee support and adoption by centering people, and create a data strategy. By following these tips, you can bridge the digital gap and meet the evolving demands of your most digitally savvy customers. 

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About Kara

As a Naviant Content Writer since 2019, Kara is passionate about helping organizations unleash the power of technology to solve their business challenges. In her weekly articles, Kara breaks down the latest research, trends, and tips in the digital transformation world, specializing in intelligent automation, the cloud, AP & HR automation, artificial intelligence, change management, and more. She is also a Copywriter for the American Marketing Association-Madison, where she contributes bimonthly articles that interview industry experts and highlight the latest marketing trends. When she’s not writing, Kara is working on her latest art project, scoping out new music, or out for a run.