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Digital Transformation in 2021: What Businesses Should Know

Krunal Shah

Jan 26, 2021

10 min readLast Updated Jan 23, 2023

Right from Industrial Revolution 3.0 and 4.0 amongst enterprises to Brick and click business model adoption by small and medium-sized businesses, technology has become a cornerstone of growth for many years now. However, for the past decade or so, it’s digital transformation that has become a necessary disruption for businesses of all sizes. Digital transformation in 2021 refers to the process of leveraging technology to modernize how your business functions. It’s a transition towards an IT-driven business model that aims to enhance how customers engage with your business, directly or indirectly.

Table of Content

Customer is the king and digital transformation is your chance to delight the king

customer experience

Technology, especially voice technology, has completely transformed how customers are handed the things they want. So if your business is lagging behind in pleasing these customers, you are in for a closure sooner or later.

To ensure you continue delighting your customer, the digital transformation of your business will play a key role. Organizations can exceed their customer expectations by refining their journey with the help of technology.

So, whether it is the use of beacons to introduce a hassle-free offline experience or the use of smart devices to transform the logistics, a truly digital experience wins over the customers.

The use of Mixed Reality (the fusion of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality) to transform the online shopping experience or the use of AI to personalize user experiences have become common too.

Digital transformation in 2021 is all about redefining customer journeys to provide them with a delightful user experience.

Digital transformation paves the way for remarkably personalized experiences

digital transformation personalized experiences

You must undertake digital transformation with a goal to personalize the buying experiences at a micro-level.

You can create a Centre of Excellence (CoE) model and ask your teams to determine customer pain points in their respective departments. Then, convert these challenges and industry pain points into business opportunities.

The only difference here is you have to find the pain points that do not relate to your offering directly. Meaning, find a way to make the customer experience more personalized and unique for them.

Big data and Artificial Intelligence are two integral steps to digital transformation that help businesses know their customers inside out.

What kind of lifestyles they lead, how they like to look for their desired offerings, where they search the products, how often they make the purchases and so on.

Using this data, you can offer them your service at their preferred platform, at the right time, and in the most convenient way. This convenience will make them choose you, even if they have to pay a few extra bucks.

Because well, time is the real currency. If you can help them save time, you are sure to retain them.

4 key areas of digital transformation in 2021

4 key areas of digital transformation

By now, it’s established that the larger goal of the digital transformation of a business is to enhance the customer experience.

The complementary goal for the same is to make the business processes more efficient. For that reason, transforming a business digitally should be a holistic endeavor.

1. Empower your personnel with mobility and insights

personnel with mobility and insights

Two of the biggest ammunitions that your employees can have are mobility and insights.

Creating a digital culture where employees can connect with customers and stakeholders anytime from anywhere has become a necessity now. So, whether it is about creating POS solutions or mobile applications that give access to customer information along with order and history tracking, create a digital ecosystem based on your customer expectations and your business goals.

Apart from that, a digital transformation drive can help your employees and decision-makers get access to customer insights with the help of data and analytical capabilities.

Employ technology solutions that can gather untampered data, refine the data, and process it into information. This will help your teams in make informed decisions. It can also help your organization in identifying business problems as well as business opportunities.

2. Aim for marketing omnipresence

Marketing Omnipresence

One of the biggest challenges for a brand is to retain its name on top of the minds of customers. Building campaigns for frequent brand recall in the conventional marketing strategies was quite capital intensive earlier.

However, digitalization has made it possible for brands to create marketing omnipresence with the help of Artificial Intelligence and IoT.

Integrating social media platforms with other business tools like CRM and ERP has become a common norm now. AI has made businesses sit in their users’ living rooms and eavesdrop the conversations (no offence, Facebook).

The result? You only spend on ads that are displayed to your target user. You know what they like, where they are, and what they watch. So you follow them there and make your business seem like it’s everywhere, even when it’s not.

3. Modernize your operations and processes

Operations and processes

Digitizing services into forms like food on-demand has saved so many businesses from going broke during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Even before that, just modernizing processes for both internal and external users had the ability to outperform competitors.

Remember how Domino’s took over Pizza Hut in sales just by letting users place orders conveniently from any platform? That kind of convenience is precious and businesses know that well by now.

Most businesses aim to undertake digital transformation in 2021 to modernize how they work. The use of AI, Machine Learning, and even robotic technology for process automation is the most essential area of digital transformation.

Such operations are lower on the costs and high on efficiency if you know how to plan and execute the transformation well.

4. Create new revenue streams with evolved business models

business model

Image credit: Accenture

Another core area of digital transformation in 2021 is business model innovation. Because technology has made most products and services outdated, a lot of businesses undergo digital transformation to come up with new ways of generating revenue.

When Netflix knew the DVD rental market had saturated, courtesy of the internet, they changed their business model completely. And now, it is the largest streaming platform on the internet. Talk about transforming competition into an ally!

Similarly, Apple was done with just selling mobile phones when they reinvented a new sub brand, iTunes.

Thus, digital transformation in 2021 isn’t a choice but a need in this fast-paced world. Regardless of how big your business is, you are bound to evolve in order to survive and grow.

How to get started with the digital transformation in 2021?

In the IT domain, it is advisable to create a prototype before you create the actual product. It’s a necessary tool for gaining better product clarity. Similarly, before you initiate the digital transformation drive in your organization, you must create a feasible blueprint or a roadmap.

1. Access the pain points

Digital transformation is a journey and each organization has to pave its path towards this transition. Thus, the first step is to analyze the current business condition thoroughly and create a list of existing pain points.

What processes or offerings are outdated now? Which are the aspects you want to lower the investment in? What are the challenges your business is facing currently?

You can ask each decision-maker to identify pain points in their respective departments with the help of their teams.

2. Create business goals for digital transformation

Once you have identified the challenges, you can create goals for your digital transformation journey.

At this point, you will be in a position to determine what aspects of your business you need to digitize in order to overcome those challenges. These will become your digital transformation goals.

To set your business goals particularly for digital transformation, consider the following points:

  • Do we need to transform front-end business aspects like product/service offerings, customer experience, etc.? If yes, what degree of digital transformation are we aiming at to overcome the existing challenges?
  • Do we need to transform the back-end facets of the business like IT infrastructure? If yes, to what extent?
  • Are we on track with our business processes compared to how efficiently the competitors are doing things? What kind of activities need to be transformed digitally?
  • How can we leverage data to optimize our operations and revenues? What kind of data do we need to collect? What will be the ideal metrics to measure performance using data? How do we set up a digital ecosystem using IoT to collect and analyze data?

Answers to these questions will form the foundation of your business goals from digital transformation.

This will help you get on a self-evolutionary path where sales will become a healthy by-product.

3. Get your executives to believe in and work towards your business’s digital transformation

Executives are strategic experts and they have the power to fuel your digital transformation efforts. So now that you have the goals of digital transformation in place, get your C-suite execs to chalk down the execution strategy.

The best way to go about it is to entrust personnel like the VP of marketing, head of sales, operational in-charge etc to communicate the goals with their respective teams. And then, together, they can create a roadmap for each department to approach the final digital destination.

4. Build the best team to identify the right technologies to implement

You know what problems currently exist, you know how to solve those, and you know what your digitized business should look like. But you need to figure out what kind of technologies will bring that result for your business.

So, build a talent pool of technical experts and industry leaders who can help you choose the right technology. If you don’t have an in-house team for this, it’s the wisest to partner up with a leading IT services company as your managed services provider.

These agencies usually have a diverse talent pool, ranging from industry experts to business consultants and CTOs.

You just need to present them with your challenges and digital transformation goals. They will then work closely with you to ascertain the what, where, and how of the entire transformation process.

The Right Questions To Ask A Potential Managed IT Services Provider

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How Nike “Just Did It” With Their Digital Transformation Journey

Nike Digital Transformation Journey

Unlike startups, digital transformation isn’t so easy for already established enterprises. They have been in the industry for a long time and their workforce is “used to” working with and under the established industry trends.

Enter Nike, the age-old shoe retailer. For a company like Nike, with hundreds of retail shops across the globe, the journey was definitely not easy. But so what? Nike says, Just Do It! So they did it.

What Nike changed and how

Nike realized they were killing the brand in their attempts to dominate the wholesale market. Also, the newbies were giving a tough competition because Nike wasn’t yet harnessing the power of the internet.

However, the most impactful decision they took was to revamp their eCommerce strategy. How? With the help of super-advanced customer and product insights. Their analytics practices have since then been very sophisticated. They know their customers better, and so, they are able to sell what today’s digital, social media savvy customer wants.

Interestingly, they also thought of deploying the then trending Augmented Reality technology and came up with one-of-its-kind concept retail stores.

The impact of a digital ecosystem during the COVID-19 pandemic

As against other industry leaders, Nike’s stocks increased by 11% at the end of the dreadful year, 2020. What had started out as a digital transformation endeavor a few years ago in fact

helped the shoe retailer thrive when the gyms were closed and people didn’t even go out for their workouts.

Nike emphasized direct sales to customers through their eCommerce spaces but most importantly, they leveraged the power of social media to keep their users engaged. They created a comprehensive digital ecosystem with various mobile apps and a lot of free resources.

Nike Training Club (NTC) app, The Nike App, Nike Running Club (NRC) app are all created to meet the needs of different kinds of users. Its podcast called TRAINED and routine collaborations with fitness influencers kept the brand relevant even during the lockdowns.

All of this wouldn’t have been possible if the brand hadn’t begun its digital transformation journey a couple of years ago. A stitch in time saves nine.

The Bottom Line

Digital transformation in 2021 is not a disruption anymore. It’s a need for a business to survive and thrive. While it’s true that most businesses should be starting with the journey already, it’d be a black hole of despair if you don’t know how to do it right. Regardless of the size of the organization, high level technical, strategic, and execution skills are required to get the desired results out of this massive endeavor.

Third Rock Techkno is an experienced IT services company that specializes in providing holistic digital transformation support services - from consulting and picking the right technologies to building the implementation roadmap and ensuring successful maintenance of infrastructure and automated processes.

We enable strategic success by developing a customer-centric digital transformation strategy powered by sophisticated data and analytics.

Achieve the digital maturity of your business by on-boarding the expert team of Third Rock Techkno.

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