How to communicate during a digital transformation

How to communicate in a digital environment: a guide to communicating digital transformation effectively.

Successful digital transformations have one thing in common: adaptability. During any major change to business models and functions, an open, adaptive mindset is necessary. While a certain amount of instability is to be expected, everything can go smoothly with effective change management and a strong communications strategy.

What is a digital transformation?

The digital revolution has changed everything about how business is done. Emerging technologies, digital initiatives, and even artificial intelligence have opened up huge opportunities for business innovation. Businesses must adapt to keep up with all of these changes. This means embracing new technologies and employing better change management strategies for a smooth transition.

Digital transformation describes the process of embracing new advances in digital technology and applying them to many areas of business. This includes areas like customer experience, business processes and business culture, reimagining these functions in a digital context.

A digital transformation can encompass anything from the modernisation of legacy systems to the creation of new business models. It can also include digital optimisation and IT modernisation, with cloud computing, for example.

Many companies are seeing the business value of enabling innovation and applying modern technologies to their business models. In fact, 89% of all companies have adopted a digital-first business strategy, or are planning to implement one.

Communication is integral to a successful transformation

Only around 30% of companies are able to successfully navigate the demands of a full digital transformation. When uncertainty and miscommunication are added to the mix, a successful outcome is almost impossible.

A digital transformation initiative can only be successful when employees are well-informed about the new digital technologies you are adopting. This includes the benefits, timelines for implementation and any potential impact on the business.

These transformations are usually led by IT and marketing, who will need to make sure processes are communicated throughout the business. This is why a strong digital transformation strategy, with a solid communications plan, is key.

Here’s how it’s done:

Evaluate at an early stage

As with any new transformation initiative, careful planning is needed at every stage. However, a strategy is only effective as long as you attempt to understand the current state of your organisation. This includes functions such as your social media presence, supply chain management system, and any digital technology you currently use.

The goal is to have a clear image of where you are. This will help you can map out a plan for where you want to be, and how to get there. When you think about your goals, you should consider things like company culture and the technology you currently have available. You should also consider your business operations, digital processes, company leadership and data management.

Strategise and plan

It’s highly likely that your digital transformation will take months, or even years, to be fully executed. Your organisation may be subject to continuous upheaval and there may be consistent interruption to business as usual. It’s important to understand the why of your digital transformation so that you can communicate this to your stakeholders.

Inform and work with key stakeholders to get a buy-in as early as possible. Make sure your employees are on board with the plan at every stage. Perhaps most importantly, if something doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to adapt your strategy as you go along. Remember, the key to a successful digital business transformation is adaptability.

It’s also important to take a step-by-step approach. Build a strategy that includes clearly defined goals and information about what success will look like at the end. With a carefully outlined strategy, you can effectively communicate at every stage of the process.

This will help you manage employee and customer expectations while you digitally transform your business. Employees from all departments will be more likely to embrace new digital transformation initiatives when they have this information.

Continuously communicate both internally and externally

The more employees and consumers know of your intentions and developments, the more effective and organic your transformation will feel. Many businesses focus their communication internally when implementing digital transformation efforts.

However, communicating externally with customers, potential customers, investors, shareholders and the community at large, is also important. If everyone is kept in the loop, they’re more likely to be supportive if things go wrong. A strong communication plan can also help you maintain your reputation during the usual upheaval caused by digital transformation journeys.

Conveying the vision for a digital transformation promotes why the change is necessary. It also does a better job of supporting your success. Many people could be worried about adapting to new digital technologies. This is why communication is always key, especially in a constantly changing environment.

As a digital transformation is largely driven by the IT department, they will need to get their message across without using technical IT jargon. A strong communications team can help avoid frustration with message development and simple, uncomplicated language that everyone can understand.

Consider a multi-channel approach

Digital transformation requires a multichannel approach. With any big business transformation, it’s important to meet employees and stakeholders on their preferred communication channels. This helps create a centralised experience for stakeholders across multiple touch points.

Digital transformation strategies that involve meeting stakeholders via their preferred communication channels have a better chance of success. According to PwC, 80% of companies now invest in a multichannel approach.

A multichannel approach also gives you the opportunity to reach new audience segments and measure data. This will help you improve customer experience, address customer challenges and gain a competitive advantage.

Increase employee engagement

Digital transformation projects can only be successful if stakeholders, customers and employees are on board. Use your strategy to get buy in and visible commitment from CEOs and middle management at an early stage.

You should also make sure you put the best people in the right places. Appoint digital transformation leaders with specialised knowledge and give them roles central to digital business transformation efforts.

At every stage, you should try to help your employees and stakeholders understand why the digital transformation is needed. This will increase employee engagement and help everyone feel more involved in the process. By monitoring feedback, you can analyse what’s working and what isn’t working.

Monitor and measure your transformation progress

As with any major change, it’s important to stay adaptive to survive, especially in the digital age. Embracing digital transformation now will make it easier to migrate to new digital technologies later. Businesses that track their progress against quantifiable transformation goals have an edge when it comes to building a successful outcome for their transformations.

 

Embrace digital transformation while avoiding the common pitfalls that can affect your business. Start your digital transformation journey with the team at Ambitious.