Friday, 17 November 2017 21:22

Can You Transform Your Company into a Digital Business?

Companies may once have had a choice of whether or not to do business without paying attention to the digital component. Those days are long gone. The sheer volume and velocity of data needed to grow (and operate) a business demands participating in the digital transformation.

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Successful companies routinely collect and analyze data on a regular basis. Today much of this can be real-time. The push towards the “Internet of Things” has been growing, even in manufacturing, and collecting data on key performance indicators can be easier than it ever was before.

From our sawmills to our concentration yards and beyond, we are striving to use digital technology as much as possible. We are making a conscious effort to support our key priorities, and for “creating relationships that expand communication to pre- and post-sales and [that] create an emotional attachment” with our target audience.

“Digital transformation” is often described as a radical reshaping of the business use of technology to pursue new areas of profitability and/or new business models. But for many existing companies, the term can also apply to “optimizing” existing technology resources in order to better meet customer demand and keep pace with competitors.

If your business is looking to be “more digital” in 2018 here are a few thoughts that you might want to keep in mind:

Use customer experience as your guide. Digital tools can help you scrutinize virtually every aspect of the customer experience. How do customers benefit from your products or services? What changes or upgrades should be made to further enhance that experience? In what ways can you automate processes to better serve existing customers and attract new ones as well?

The best starting point may be a fresh look at your website. An effective digital transformation may include top-to-bottom renovation, leveraging the latest apps and other resources to match the skills and knowledge of your sophisticated buyers.

Start small. It’s important that technology works smoothly in all of your customer-facing operations. When it comes to digital self-service features—that is, any function that customers and/or prospects can do themselves (and which move them close to a buying decision)—select online process to transform that’s easily adaptable and measurable.

Involve the entire team. Regardless of their job duties, every member of your team should have a hand in the digital process. Whether the focus is on social media, managing inventory or a new IT-related initiative, it’s often wise to “throw people into projects to really make digital part of everyone’s job,” says Perry Hewitt of Harvard University.

Don’t exclude your management team from the process, Hewitt adds. “Managers need to be hands-on and understand how people in their organization use technology.” This has been an extremely important point for us as we compete in the hardwood lumber industry which is not necessarily known for being leading edge.

Track the results of your efforts. As businesses process become digitalized, it’s vital to engineer methods of tracking and analyzing the effective of your improvements. Get your best IT talent involved in determining what should be measured—sales leads, customer feedback, inventory turns, etc.—and defining what to do next with the data they accumulate.

Of course, while the digital transformation is taking place, never forget the personal touch. Regardless of how advanced you make your digital tools or online presence; customers and prospects alike will always want the option of interacting with a human being. Relationships just become more important!

Tony Cimorelli
Baillie Lumber
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