Digital transformation: nearly everyone does it, but almost no one does it well. According to the 2018 McKinsey Global Survey, over 80% of organizations have had a digital transformation in the past 5 years, but fewer than 30% of transformation initiatives have succeeded, with some industries reporting success rates as low as 4-11%.
The good news is, you don’t have to roll the dice and hope your digital transformation strategy bucks the trend. Here’s why transformation is hard, and how you can succeed with the right target, the right preparation and the right team.
The Struggle for Digital Business Transformation
One major reason digital transformation is so difficult is because it never really ends. Driven by economic pressures, many businesses are forced to transform continuously, with every new project feeding into the next. No matter how busy your CIO and tech team are, there’s always another change, revamp or upgrade in the pipeline.
The tech industry often uses the metaphor of a journey governed by a digital transformation strategy, but it can feel more like working in a building that’s constantly under construction. The spaces and resources being renovated are the same ones your workers depend on for day-to-day operations. Keeping everything running smoothly requires careful coordination, which can easily break down. If the builders face an unexpected delay, or one of your teams needs a resource that’s being renovated, it can throw the whole system into chaos.
Over time, the disruption affects your workforce, making morale an ongoing concern If you haven’t demonstrated how your project benefits your team, or given them the support they’ll need, they’ll struggle to adapt to the changes.
Resulting problems like poor buy-in, delays and excessive disruption not only hurt your organization’s ability to accomplish your current project — they can also impact future digital transformation initiatives, making you less agile and competitive.
How to Ensure Digital Transformation Initiatives Succeed
Address legacy process and neglected areas first
The most important factor in a successful transformation is choosing the right target — i.e., the target most in need of transformation. While it does make sense to focus on the cutting edge if it’s a key differentiator, 9 times out of 10 you should fix what’s broken before improving what already works.
Look for data silos, outdated manual processes and other factors that show that an area has been neglected by previous digital transformation initiatives. This will help you identify the target with the best short term ROI. You’ll also be setting yourself up for better returns on future digital transformations by ensuring none of your business processes are being left behind.
Addressing outdated business processes first will also make gaining buy-in a lot easier. You’ll be able to show stakeholders early on why you’re undertaking a particular digital transformation, and how it will help them. Knowing the project will make their lives easier and address the challenges they face, your stakeholders will be much more eager to get behind it.
For example, your marketing department most likely already has good tools to handle digital channels. Their marketing platform automates most of the grunt work, enabling them to segment lists, execute campaigns, perform A/B testing and nurture leads without wasting time on manual processes such as updating spreadsheets or tracking revisions.
But this level of automation probably hasn’t reached your direct mail process. Your marketing team may still be:
- Sending creatives back and forth for review
- Manually updating spreadsheets with segments and addresses
- Manually addressing, printing, folding and stuffing envelopes
- Routinely spending hours in meetings with 3rd party direct mail vendors
Legacy processes also impact the team’s ability to collect and analyze data. They probably can’t track ROI, perform A/B testing, or even ensure that mailers are correctly addressed. And what data they do collect is probably silo’d from the rest of their marketing channels so they can’t compare its performance as part of the overall campaign.
Adopting modern direct mail technology will benefit your entire marketing team. Not only will it save your direct mail team lots of time and money, it will also enable marketing to operate an omnichannel strategy, coordinating communications across channels and using data to constantly improve their effectiveness. And all you have to do is bring direct mail in line with the automated marketing capabilities you already have in other channels!
Identify secondary use cases for digital transformation
While digital transformation is often driven by a specific use case, there are almost always additional opportunities afforded by the new technology. By identifying all the ways in which a technological change can help, you’ll gain greater organizational buy-in, increase gains and build enthusiasm for future transformations.
For example, your primary use case for automated direct mail and address verification is likely to be marketing. However, those same technologies can help anywhere your company uses mail, including:
- Sending Invoices and receipts
- Delivering collection notices
- Paying vendors
- Helping sales communicate more effectively with high-value leads
- Sending address confirmation postcards to prevent fraud
- Enhancing customer experience through loyalty rewards or improved tracking
Focus on one use case to begin with, but ensure secondary use cases are on your digital transformation roadmap from the start. This will enable you to earn buy-in earlier and more effectively, making it easier to ensure adoption of subsequent transformations. And the experience your organization gains addressing your primary use case will help you meet your other use cases, saving money and showing ROI more quickly during later phases of your digital transformation.
Partner with a leader
When your digital transformation focuses on updating legacy systems or outdated processes, there’s very little you need to learn by trial and error. With a technological leader at your side, you can eliminate the risks caused by inexperience, and onboard the most cost-effective solutions.
By partnering with Lob, you can benefit from end-to-end direct mail automation in a single digital transformation process. We not only automate the process of creating and tracking mail, we also offer a seasoned network of third-party printing and mailing services, with bulk mail pricing available for all users. This means you can get out of the business of printing and mailing creatives entirely, knowing our network will take care of it for you. Whether you send 100 mailing per month or 1,000 per day, we’ll make it easy, effective and affordable for your company.
Contact us to get started on your successful digital transformation.