Thursday, September 16, 2021

What is Digital Transformation?

You don’t have to look far to see how digital transformation has impacted your life in some way. Digital transformation is the process of not only transferring tasks and tools into the digital world, but also completely reinventing business processes and customer experiences because of new digital capabilities. 

Many companies start with digitization, the term for transferring paper and analog data to a digital format without making any changes to business processes. However, these organizations often realize that the convenience of their new format could be matched with new ways of doing business. That moment in a digital transition is when digital transformation happens. 

Read on to learn how digital transformation impacts different industries and users and especially how digital transformation has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Digital Transformation:

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Digital transformation in the enterprise through AI

Larger enterprises have engaged with digital transformation practices for years, watching the latest technology trends and brainstorming how new developments could advance their business model. One transformative advancement for both industry and consumers has come in the form of streaming or multimedia that users can access at any time via the internet. Major companies in the television, film, gaming, and music industries are some of the biggest trailblazers in the digital transformation world.

Let’s look at Spotify, a leading music streaming enterprise, as an example of constant digital transformation. Their goal is to create the most personalized user experience (UX) possible for their listeners, and they’ve consistently done that through data analytics, AI, and machine learning. Nearly gone are the days of asking friends for music recommendations. Spotify does all of the work for you! Here are just a couple of examples of how they’ve used new technologies to tailor customer experiences (CX):User's Spotify Screen with Made For You Playlists is a form a digital transformation.

Made for You Playlists

Based on a user’s behavioral trends and previous listens, Spotify creates “made for you” playlists to match the different artists, genres, and tempos that it believes they will like most. How does it do that? Through a process called collaborative filtering, Spotify compares both qualitative and quantitative data from different users with similar listening patterns and makes recommendations to each of them based on the habits of those similar listeners.

Release Radar

This Spotify feature alerts users to new music from artists they already love or artists Spotify thinks they will love. Once again, Spotify uses collaborative filtering, but also natural language processing to find out what you like and listen in on the online chatter about recent releases. If a new album is considered high quality and matches a certain genre, it may end up in your release queue. Bonus: This is also great exposure for new artists who match the tastes of Spotify listeners.

Streaming is a prime example of how digital transformation happens at the enterprise level, and it is one of the clearest to the millions of users who frequently engage with streaming technologies. 

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Digital transformation in customer service and engagement

Companies of varying sizes and industries have adjusted their customer service approach to meet customers virtually and in real-time. With a growing number of available social media platforms, smart applications, and simple website development and management tools, many organizations are using these resources to digitally transform the way they talk to customers. Here are a few customer service and engagement tools that have transformed the business world:

Social media

Social media has served as a primary tool for connecting with other people virtually, but itShopping on Instagram Social Media Platform is Digital Transformation. continues to expand into customer service and e-commerce. Here are several examples of digital transformation that most major companies have implemented on their social media channels:

  • Answering customer questions and handling complaints in the comments of social media posts. 
  • Posting challenges, events, and discounts for their customers.
  • Selling products through native e-commerce features on Instagram and Facebook. 
  • Finding other fun ways to start conversations with customers and other companies. A great example: the Wendy’s Twitter account that sarcastically attacks its competitors and customers, which matches the overall tone of the Twitter platform.

Wendy's uses Twitter to sarcastically engage with customers as a form of digital transformation.

Chatbots

Chatbots are common website add-ons that companies use to digitally transform customer service. Bypassing traditional contact center models, chatbots help customers at any time of day with a pre-programmed bot that answers their questions or helps them navigate the website. Chatbots also allow customers to self-segment their personal data for your company’s database, making their experience more personalized and giving you more insight into your customer base.

Self-help knowledge bases

Self-help knowledge bases provide another way to bypass traditional contact center models. By creating an FAQ library with short articles and multimedia resources, both your customers and your employees can research their questions. This self-service option lessens the strain on customer service representatives. Several major customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, such as HubSpot and Salesforce, enable this feature through service hubs.

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Digital transformation in the COVID-19 era

Digital transformation occurred widely and rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic. With widespread lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, illness, and fear, companies had to use all of the tools and technologies at their disposal to maintain their customer relationships in the chaos. Here are a few ways we saw digital transformation save industries and institutions from total collapse during the pandemic:

Widespread use of video conferencing platforms

Stay-at-home orders sent non-essential employees away from the office to work from home, which completely disrupted the traditional in-office meeting workflow. 

Video conferencing platforms already had a place in many businesses, but during the pandemic, they became a staple that transformed the way we meet with colleagues. You can share your screen to guide someone through a process, type questions into a chat while others are presenting, and even host quick video meetings for mental health checks with faraway teammates. The widespread adoption of this technology has changed the way we work, enabling the rise of remote work.

More on Remote Work and Tech: Using Technology to Reimagine Work Post Covid-19

Virtual conferencing platforms also gained major traction, considering you can’t host industry speaking conferences if no one is allowed to travel. Many hosting organizations launched virtual event platforms to keep their events going during COVID-19, hosting live and pre-recorded speaker events where people could pay for digital access. 

Past conferences involved extensive event planning, catering, hotels, and air-travel fees, but through this forced digital transformation, many organizations are discovering that you don’t need a physical venue to host an informational event. The global virtual events market is expected to grow by 23.2% over the next six to seven years, according to Grand View Research.

E-learning

The way students learn and teachers teach has changed dramatically during the pandemic. Some students are learning virtually, some are in person, and many are learning in a hybrid model. This shift in the learning experience required several points of digital transformation, such as:

  • Using learning management systems (LMS) to assign and turn in homework and tests.
  • Launching video conferencing platforms for teacher lectures and student presentations.
  • Ensuring students have internet access and computers or tablets that can securely connect to the school’s network.

Many students are heading back to in-person learning. However, due to the digital transformation school systems had to make during the pandemic, classrooms will likely incorporate more virtual learning elements into lesson plans, particularly for students who struggle with accessibility in a traditional classroom environment.

Virtual dining options

Restaurants were some of the businesses hit hardest by pandemic restrictions, but many of them pivoted and maintained a revenue stream through digital transformation. Restaurants expanded their carry-out and delivery options, partnering with food delivery applications and expanding their customer-facing order applications. 

As in-person dining slowly returned, many restaurants found a new form of digital transformation necessary. In order to comply with health department standards and to stay open, they began the digitalization of their menus. This move requires customers to scan a QR code and view the menu on their personal device, instead of receiving a physical copy. As COVID restrictions are fully lifted, these digital transformations may decrease in popularity, but many are likely to stick around because of their convenience for both restaurant staff and customers. 

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