Senior Digital Transformation Specialist, Operational Excellence and Digital, Enterprise Ireland
Effective digital adoption can increase efficiencies, improve how customers and companies engage and develop new products/services and business models.
There are many views on digital transformation, some focus just on the technology, while others look to digitise existing ways of work. Overall, it is a lot more complex, especially where businesses are looking at fundamental changes in how their business operates into the future. An approach to aid this is to look at it under four areas: purpose, people, process and technology.
Take time to understand the clear aim of the business in adopting digital — is it to become more cost/energy efficient, enhance customer service, drive research and development? There are several resources available to help. A good starting point is the cluster network for the industry in Ireland. There is also funding support, such as Digital Start from Local Enterprise offices or Digital Discovery from Enterprise Ireland, to help define a roadmap for adoption.
It is important to have technology that bests fits the business need.
Once a purpose is defined, it is important to look at the staff’s current strengths and future skill needs. Often, one looks for a good digital champion or early adopter of technology within your current staff to help start the process within a business. Resources such as Skillnet Ireland and the Education and Training Boards (ETBs) are a good starting point to see what support is available.
There is a tendency to look simply at digitising existing processes. However, this often can lead to extra costs and does not get the maximum benefits out of digital. Ideally, the first step is to understand the process end to end; this helps maximise how digital can automate and enhance the process. It is not uncommon to change a process after applying a digital lens.
The final part is the technology itself. It is important to have technology that best fits the business need. Factors such as size, staff capabilities, sector and competitors will all play a part in this decision. A few useful questions to ask in selecting technologies are: how can it talk to other business systems, and how can one extract the data for analysis at a later stage? Integration and data will be keys to the future growth of the business.