By 2020, Forrester found that 47% of executives predict total sales will be influenced by digital interactions. However, only 14% of those execs say they have the right processes in place to execute a digital transformation in their enterprise.
Why the disparity? The conversation of businesses undergoing a digital transformation has been underway for years now, companies like SAP even devote a full section in their digital magazine, D!gitalist, on ‘Leading Through Digital Transformation”. However, 84% of business owners still don’t have a clear vision on what that transformation actually entails, according to Michael Gale, an industry expert in integrated technology marketing.
While there are many pain points a digital transformation can help externally, such as sales, marketing and customer service, the best results may be found internally. According to an article by Present, almost 90% of companies claim that the main benefit of digital transformation is the increase in employee productivity. To learn more about the benefits brands receive when they turn to digital resources as a precursor to getting work done among their team, I connected with Dan Schoenbaum, CEO of Redbooth, an online task management, and project software.
What are the key components to undergoing a digital transformation?
Schoenbaum: Being technologists, we tend to focus on the technologies enabling digital transformation — mobile and cloud computing, data analysis tools, device sensors, etc.
However, there tends to be less focus on the business outcomes: what do we intend to accomplish with digital transformation? Do we want to work more productively, build better products, streamline how our business operates?
Microsoft just announced ‘Digital Transformation’ as their theme at the 2016 Ignite Conference. What is Redbooth’s role in this overall trend?
Schoenbaum: Digital transformation is such a frequently used term that I think it’s important to start with a definition. In fact, I have seen most of the common IT trends — e.g., Cloud, mobile, IoT, big data — all rolled into digital transformation.
In the context of Microsoft Ignite, my take is that Microsoft is applying its sizable technology assets, including Azure, Office & Office 365, Windows Server, etc., to critical business challenges that include better engaging customers, empowering employees to be more productive, transforming how products are defined and offered, and optimizing business operations for maximum efficiency.
Redbooth has been focused on the challenge of engaging and empowering employees for more than 5 years, since before digital transformation was even a widely used term.
Our collaboration platform is focused on organizing and managing work, easily finding and sharing content, and streamlining team communication — anytime, anywhere, on any device — exactly the capabilities needed by modern, empowered, self-managed teams to get their work done more productively.
How much time do easily adoptable digital tools save employees?
Schoenbaum: We’ve been doing this for 5 years, and over that time, many of our customers have reported to us that they have halved the time needed to complete their mission-critical initiatives, which is really gratifying to us.
Inherent in the outcome is the human dimension of digital transformation. We can surround ourselves with incredible technology, but if we are unable, or unwilling, to change how we work, the full benefits won’t be realized. The humanization of digital transformation requires not just technology but a cultural change around how we — and our teams — get work done.
A willingness to change is needed, along with the realization that a tech-only digital transformation strategy is not enough.
Based on your knowledge of virtual project management and collaboration, what are 2-3 roadblocks businesses hit when trying to implement a digital transformation?
Schoenbaum: Putting aside the deployment and integration challenges inherent in new technologies, the biggest roadblocks we see center around human and cultural challenges:
- Not focusing on the cultural aspects of digital transformation
- A reluctance to change how individuals and teams work (or even the fear of change)
- Not focusing on a measurable business outcome and clear roadmap to get there
For businesses apprehensive to become fully digital, what are some of the immediate and long-term benefits they’ll see?
Schoenbaum: It’s important to think of digital transformation as a spectrum of capabilities, not an on/off — ‘My business is either digital or not.’ Within this context, the immediate benefits can be gradual and incremental if that’s what the business requires.
As an example, as part of your digital transformation strategy, you might consider deploying a virtual project management and collaboration solution just to manage a single project or for one area of your business. The immediate benefits you’ll see may include shorter or fewer meetings, more accurate project planning, and increased employee output.
Over the long term, you’ll be rolling out digital tools to your entire organization. As this technology proliferates, you can expect to see a streamlined business, competitive advantage, increased agility, access to info anytime and anywhere — remember, knowledge is power! — and teams that are self-directed and empowered to work the way they want.
Redbooth recently announced their enterprise level partnership with Apple TV, how do you see this playing into companies looking to become more digitally focused?
Schoenbaum: A key trend of digital transformation is the concept of data and information access — that is, taking the large volume of enterprise data that is generated in this digital world and making sense of it. Essentially, it’s the ability to access, analyze, and act upon it at any time and on any device.
This where all of Apple’s products, and particularly Apple TV, come in. Apple TV is traditionally thought of as a consumer device, but it’s appearing more frequently in a corporate setting in board rooms and team huddle rooms.
Apple TV delivers a fantastic user experience on a large display, and we have been able to leverage this platform to enable teams to have access to their plans, strategy, and workflow on the ‘big screen’ with an intuitive, streamlined experience.
In fact, just 5 buttons on an Apple TV remote are all you need to access your initiatives and share that content with your colleagues. Taking an elegant consumer experience and adapting it to an enterprise environment is another hallmark of the digital transformation movement,. I think we will see more examples of this, driven by the consumerization of IT.
For example, one customer reduced their new employee onboarding from 4 weeks to 2, which is critical to generating value as you are rapidly growing. Another customer was able to double the work output of their digital marketing team, specifically from the coordination and organization they were able to achieve.
How do you see the digital enterprise space changing the global workforce in the next 5 years?
Schoenbaum: If you thought personal computing or the Internet were disruptive to the way we work, then you better buckle up. How we work, where we work, and the tools we use to work are going to change dramatically.
Of course, different industries move at different paces, but in general, you can expect the global workforce to be much more mobile, rely less on email and more on messaging technologies, and to be more empowered and self-managed.
Meanwhile, expect that our notion of the ‘office’ will change: less personal office space, more team collaboration areas, and decreased emphasis on a centralized geographic location as teams become increasingly global.