What is digital transformation?

The world of business has changed, and organizations are under pressure to develop and implement long-term technology strategies to address digital acceleration. This has been a priority for a while, but especially after the pandemic, we've seen great shifts in a need to support distributed teams in an increasingly complex and high-stakes security and compliance landscape. This change represents both a challenge and an opportunity for companies to move to more secure, collaborative, productive ways of working.

Digital transformation is essential to many companies' success as technology advances and customer expectations grow. Having a plan to implement new technology and shift away from analog processes can give you the tools you need to become an industry leader. In this article, we describe how you can stay ahead of the competition and improve your business processes with a digital transformation strategy.

Find out more about what digital transformation is, why it matters, and how you can properly implement it at your company.



What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation is a well-planned strategy to overhaul an organization through information technology. The aim is most often to create new lines of businessor new business models for existing lines of business. A digital transformation strategy also moves your company away from time-consuming analog processes to lightning-fast digital ones. From sales and marketing to logistics and human resources, every part of the organization feels these changes and sees processes improve — from product development to employee onboarding.

The technology involved in digital transformation centers on information. It includes processes related to collecting, cleansing, cataloging, and storing data. These processes allow companies to better govern, retrieve, analyze, and integrate data in business processes. Digital transformation boosts efficiency and productivity, freeing employees up so they can work on higher-value tasks.

Digital transformation is sometimes driven by IT leaders, sometimes by business leaders, and sometimes by a combination of the two working together. 



Why digital transformation matters

The potential for digital transformation to improve business processes makes it essential for any company wanting to stay ahead in its industry. As your industry evolves, you need to evolve with it, or you'll be left behind. There are a few primary benefits to digital transformation that make it crucial to your future success:


1. Improves customer experience

Digital transformation allows you to deliver a better experience to your tech-savvy customers, as it gives them more ways to interact with your company. Since digital technology allows you to communicate with customers in more ways, you can better meet them where they're most comfortable, improving their experiences as a result. Popular methods for customer communication with digital technology include live chat, email, mobile apps, and social media.


2. Increases your competitiveness

Companies in your industry aren't waiting around to digitally transform their processes. You shouldn't wait either if you want to stay as competitive as possible. Implementing a digital transformation strategy can help you pull ahead of other companies that are slow to adapt to new technology.


3. Reduces labor costs and raises productivity 

Digital business transformation can significantly raise your employees' productivity. Many digital tools allow you to automate key processes and keep your information updated in a central location, allowing employees to work faster. Automating processes can also help you lower the labor costs related to certain tasks and devote staff to more profitable work.

Why digital transformation matters



Examples of digital transformation in various departments and industries

For many companies, success depends on digital transformation. Learn more about the primary ways digital transformation is benefitting various departments below:



Sales teams continuously improve their ability to sell to customers by relying on digital transformation. Many digital technologies enable sales to collect and analyze more data about consumer behavior, making it possible for sales reps to better target consumers and meet their needs. Digital transformation can give reps more information to see their consumers as individuals, reviewing their behavior and using it to make the buyers journey more enjoyable and personalized.


Customer service

Today's customers expect to receive top-quality customer service on their phone or device with a single click or swipe. Many customer service departments utilize smartphones, apps, and electronic payment services to better (and more quickly) help their customers. Companies can use digital transformation to automate many of their customer service department's tasks and provide more channels for customer engagement. Digital transformation is crucial in the social media space, as it helps companies meet customers where they are and identify their needs.

Companies can use digital transformation to automate many of their customer service department's tasks



The marketing department also benefits greatly from digital transformation, as it can help companies reach more customers at a lower cost. Instead of relying on the costly print marketing materials of the past, marketing companies can use digital materials to better reach customers on social media, email, or online ads. Digital transformation can also assist marketing companies, as it gives them more analytics tracking and marketing automation abilities.

In addition to departments, digital transformation also helps many industries, including:



The digital era has opened up new channels for retailers to sell their products to more customers. Digital technologies allow companies to sell their goods online, provide e-coupons and loyalty cards, and personalize a customer's in-store or online experience. Digital transformation in retail also involves using digital systems that are designed to send individualized alerts to customers, better track customer behavior trends, and get more value out of purchasing and inventory systems.

The digital era has opened up new channels for retailers to sell their products to more customers



The banking and financial services industry has also benefited from digital transformation. For example, digital transformation has reduced the need for people to handle transactions in person. Instead, customers and clients can take care of their finances via online and mobile banking. People can also utilize new payment systems to pay for items with their phones, whether in a retail store or online, leading to less reliance on plastic cards and cash.



How to implement successful digital transformation strategies

While digital transformation is a key to success in most industries, not every company knows how to pull it off. Technology can improve your security and compliance posture, boost productivity, and reduce costs when applied correctly. A good set of tools applied in the right places can also upgrade your processes, reduce cycle times, and improve both employee and customer experience.

You'll want to apply digital transformation strategies at the right time. Those who wait too long often fall behind and fail. Those who are too quick to innovate face a different set of challenges, which could just as easily result in failure.

If you're interested in implementing digital transformation at your company, you'll often need both IT leaders and business leaders on board. Each of the two types of leaders has a different perspective they can bring to the digital transformation process. Using both of these perspectives at your company can ensure your whole team gets on board and sees the benefits of transforming your business with information technology.



7 benefits of digital transformation CIOs can use to drive change in the IT department

CIOs have to be effective communicators when driving digital transformation. They must be able to talk about technology in business terms — and in ways that motivate people to change. The transformative CIO gets people excited about new technology and its potential impact.

It's crucial for CIOs to know and communicate the main benefits digital transformation can provide to their IT departments. To drive digital transformation at your company, highlight the following advantages of digital transformation:


1. Streamlines business processes

Enhanced technology may allow a company to streamline business processes. Many CIOs are deploying technology that helps them improve data integration and sharing between systems. Some systems provide secure ways of making data accessible to everybody who needs it to do their work — members of internal teams as well as contract workers and trusted partners outside the organization.

Many CIOs are deploying technology that helps them improve data integration and sharing between systems.

One example includes Box Sign, a highly effective product for digital transformation. The native integration e-signature capabilities streamline key processes, such as contract sign-offs and employee onboarding. Box Sign also helps you manage signatures in the Content Cloud, providing assistance as you retain executed agreements, write agreements, and obtain signatures.


2. Allows for innovative ways of working

A new system extends access to mobile andremote users, ushering in new ways of working. Applications generally have to be altered to fit the usage patterns of mobile workers, and new security measures have to be implemented. 

Companies with a large mobile population often use a “mobile-first” approach. This approach makes it so the application works on a mobile device first and then adapts it to the office system, rather than the other way around. Companies may also be transformed by technology that increases access to remote workers, extending the company’s geographic reach along the way.


3. Transforms different parts of a company

Technology used in one part of the company may have a transformative effect if deployed to another part of the company. For example, tools long used by software developers to collaborate on projects may be useful to other departments. Some companies have rolled out those same tools to other departments, making them more generally available and transforming several processes. One of these processes includes the development of marketing collateral, an activity in which workflows involve content and have to be extended to people outside the company.


4. Improves decision-making

Improved analytic tools provide better business insight and improve decision-making. New technologies in data science and artificial intelligence make it possible to learn more from existing data, improving insights and allowing organizations to make better decisions as a result. IT leaders who stay on top of technological innovation deploy tools that provide better analytics and decision support.


5. Increases customer targeting precision

Advances in data science, coupled with better data-collection capabilities, make it possible to target customers with greater precision. Customer personalization depends on faster, more comprehensive access to relevant information — both information on potential customers and information on the range of available offerings. As many CIOs in financial services know, data science makes it easier to tailor services to the needs of individual customers, as it provides staff with crucial information about the customer’s situation and current market trends.

Customer personalization depends on faster, more comprehensive access to relevant information


6. Strengthen governance policies and processes

New tools improve information governance processes and policies. Some IT leaders deploy the latest generation of records management tools and other technologies that help with information governance. This improved information governance has especially held true in highly regulated industries, such as finance and healthcare. 

Currently, the growing importance of data privacy and the right to be forgotten has forced companies that storeany kind of personal data to also be able to delete that data — both on request from the person in question and after a certain amount of time has passed. CIOs and other IT leaders can make it easier for their departments to delete data as needed with digital technology.


7. Fosters business processes improvements

Migration of some or all systems to the cloud creates new opportunities to improve business processes. The movement of computer systems from on-premises to cloud-based frequently involves changes to the service. When you work with Box, you can expect to seamlessly implement a digital transformation framework that sets your company up for future success. The Content Cloud features many different products and solutions for a seamless digital transformation transition.

Companies may need to turn to new application vendors for digital transformation, as their original vendor may not offer both on-premises and cloud-based services. If the same vendor is used, their on-premises services may be different from what’s offered in the cloud. In either case, migration to the cloud opens up access to a new, more modern set of tools designed to improve business processes.



How business leaders can drive digital transformation

Outcomes of digital transformation

Any business leader wanting to drive digital transformation must lead change and communicate a vision to superiors, peers, direct reports, and users. They must understand the impact of a new business model. They also have to be adept at working with IT managers — explaining the big picture and negotiating specific requirements from IT.

Business leaders who successfully drive digital transformation often communicate the following benefits of a digital transformation strategy to relevant parties:


1. Greater understanding of market trends

Technology opens new opportunities to gain a better understanding of market trends. Business leaders want better analytics and decision support systems. They want to be able to collect data from more sources and apply the latest algorithms to make accurate forecasts based on available information. Digital transformation gives them those abilities, helping their whole team better serve their customers. 


2. Increased markets and channels

Technology enables new channels and markets for lines of business, particularly for companies that sell products online. E-commerce technology and improved delivery services create new business models for product sales and make it possible to sell products and services in more places around the world.


3. Customer expectations met

New tools make it possible to address growing customer expectations. Ever since customers have browsed the web to compare prices, businesses have had to find new ways of distinguishing themselves. Consequently, the level of service has risen across industries, and so have customer expectations. Companies wanting to keep up with rising customer expectations need to respond quickly and provide products and services that are more tailored to the personal needs of a given customer.


4. Improved customer retention

A new paradigm enables improved customer retention. Several improvements in customer relationship management (CRM) applications have extended the range of possibilities for companies that embrace innovation. Social CRM allows companies to reach out to customers in new ways. Cloud-based CRM makes it easier for sales and marketing teams to access customer data from more locations and integrate it into customer-focused business processes.


5. More cost-cutting opportunities

A new paradigm enables cost-cutting. Technology, in general, streamlines business processes. A digital transformation framework featuring cloud computing makes it possible to avoid high upfront costs. It also makes it easier for companies to scale both up and down, depending on demand, without having to invest in expensive equipment.



Three elements underlying successful digital transformation

Digital transformation isn’t just about technology. It’s also about people, processes, and new ways of doing business. If you're interested in developing a digital transformation framework for your company, you'll want it to include three main components to ensure it's as effective as possible:


1. The right vision

Transformative leaders have to understand their company, their industry, relevant technology, and the regulatory environment in which their companies operate in order to have the right digital vision. They have to be prepared to communicate that vision through clear messages. Transformative leaders must communicate with all stakeholders and guide them — before the change, during the change, and after the change. 

Transformative leaders need an excellent understanding of the company culture to communicate the vision across the company. They also often need to understand the cultures of regions where the company operates. Digital transformation can only be successful if employeesand often external stakeholders, including customers and partnersengage in the vision. 

Providing an excellent user experience is one of the best ways to engage people, whether they’re employees, partners, or customers. IT must deliver a common user experience relevant to the user’s context at the time and one that’s also consistent across devices and workspaces.

Providing an excellent user experience is one of the best ways to engage people


2. The right tools

Digital transformation revolves around content. In most organizations, content is spread across several on-premises systems, managed by different applications, and stored in different databases. So much content fragmentation makes it virtually impossible for people to collaborate in a meaningful way.

One of the first things to do is move content to the cloud, where it can be stored in a central repository, intelligently organized, and tagged for easy access. If a move of that caliber sounds daunting, Box has you covered. Box Shuttle is designed to make it easy for you to transition your content from your legacy systems to the cloud. Our team will help you select the files you want to migrate and then do all the scanning and ingesting for you. Box Shuttle makes the content migration process quick and easy, without any headaches that migrating content on your own would bring.

After migrating, having a central repository causes many of the things that are fundamental to digital transformation to become much easierworkflow and collaboration, as well as information governance, security, and compliance.

Data science techniques can also be applied more easily to centralized data. Both statistical techniques and machine learning algorithms work better when the data is easily retrievable. Digital transformation requires integrated systems that work off the same data and automate a company’s specific business processes.


3. The right timing

The timing of digital transformation should consider the maturity of the technology, the rate of adoption among competitors, and the natural speed at which the company takes on change. Business and IT leaders must come together to decide the timing of initial steps and the rate of transformation. IT leaders have to keep an eye on evolving technology, and business leaders have to keep an eye on the evolving competitive landscape.

Business and IT leaders must come together to decide the timing of initial steps and the rate of transformation


Leveraging Box for digital transformation

Leverage the Box Content Cloud for your digital transformation needs. Secure content management from Box gives people a user-friendly way to collaborate across teams and with their partners, vendors, and customers — and ultimately overhaul their organization’s processes. Best of all, these transformative ways of working never compromise on security, control, and compliance. It's no surprise that today’s leading organizations, including 67% of the Fortune 500, use Box for digital transformation.

Our seamless collaboration, frictionless security, and integrations with over 1,500 applications enable you to digitize core processes throughout your business. These digitized core processes include mobile sales enablement and contract reviews in sales, client onboarding and engagement, and supplier procurement in operations.

Companies that leverage intelligent, collaborative work environments in their process transformation say they'll be ahead of their peers by 2024 with 30% less staff turnover, 30% more productivity, and 30% more revenue per employee. By transforming these processes, you’ll see measurable benefits across your organization, such as exceeding customer expectations, increasing team productivity and efficiency, and reducing security and compliance risk.



Contact Box for help with digital transformation

Our diverse range of products allow you to seamlessly transition to the cloud and get the most out of the latest technology on the market. Take a look at the products and capabilities included in the Content Cloud, or try a free demo today!

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