Digital transformation is an ongoing process for the average business that is likely to be a messy mix of legacy paper processes, in-person interactions, partially digitised systems, and wholly new online solutions to business problems.

There are some easy fixes. Collaboration tools such as Slack or knowledge management solutions like Asana can quickly and naturally replace long drawn-out meetings, and chasing colleagues and external partners becomes a rapid rather than all-day task. But whilst these are quick and easy wins that can work for many types of organisation, whatever the size, there are higher heights to scale on the way to the mountain peak of digital transformation.

Here are five actionable tips for digital transformation that any kind of organisation approaching the next stage in their journey can adopt now.

1) Look scientifically at who does what work and why – pick the solutions that improve the performance of the team’s ability to be fully human

It’s an odd-sounding process but in order to have a fully ‘human’ workforce, by which in this instance I mean a team able to act independently and leverage their emotional as well as intellectual intelligence, then you need to go about it in a very scientific, almost robotic fashion.

It’s important to be led by data and look to find efficiencies and to boost the effectiveness of team and individual efforts. At the same time, part of the data that must be assessed is the intangible feelings and beliefs of the staff. Happiness is linked to productivity, and satisfaction will keep staff motivated and better able to use their most human and irreplaceable powers – that of empathy.

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2) Consider how analytics can be incorporated into every applicable part of the business so decisions can be made using the right data – and not pure opinion

Data is key to an organisation committed to being efficient, effective, and part of the 21st-century digital world. Making decisions on that data is vital – it’s too easy to reply on ‘the way things have always been done’, or gut feeling, or personal preference. In the worst-case scenario, people make decisions based on bias or self-interest.

By adopting a rigorous attitude and procedures from the top to the bottom of the organisation that commits to making data-based decisions the business shows that honest, fair play, and reason rule it. The effects go beyond making better business and customer decisions based on this data – the second-order effects show all stakeholders in or out of the business that you stand for the right thing, not the ‘right now’ decision that is a much more innate reaction to challenging situations.

3) Pick technologies that put time and agency back in the hands of staff – and customers too

Let your staff do their job the way they want to – but likewise, they should understand the best way that should work. With the right technologies, staff can manage their time smartly, reduce the boredom of administration, and spend more face-to-face time with customers. It’s only by giving people time and attention that they flourish, become more creative, and achieve high performance.

Technologies that support staff, offer them mobility and flexibility and are simple to use will win the day. It’s important not to erect barriers. All too often technologies and processes are started up with the best of intentions, but without careful thought as to how people will interact with them in the real world.

4) Look beyond people power and consider how every surface, space, and asset can feed information back to the business to enhance understanding with data about ‘things’

The internet of things (IoT) can connect decision-makers with the real nitty-gritty of what’s happening moment by moment in their organisation. That could be the number of customers present, what they are looking at, whether they are being served by staff, how long have they been waiting, how long have assets been sitting idle, and whether safety precautions being met. All these questions and so many more can be answered through sensor technology counting and measuring, or capturing visual data for analysis later.

With some smart solutions, decisions can be made instantly without managers needing to be involved. For example, alerting staff to man a point of sale within a shop when queue sizes grow too large.

5) Use smart video to better understand customers, assets, and space in the business environment – and to bring all these other tips together

Seeing is believing. Smart video, where 360-degree cameras, and artificial intelligence work together to monitor, analyse, understand, and make decisions based on objective fact, can feed into an overall business decision making strategy. The savings in time and effort to understand so many elements of a business, from a retail floor, public space, transport hub, industrial or logistics site are incredible. Any location where people, assets, and space interact can be better understood and optimised in terms of staffing, timing, layout and use.

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Video solutions in particular work with humanity’s most appreciated and relied-on sense – sight. The problem is that to observe things without technology requires time and properly trained people. As a consequence, most businesses rely on anecdotes and experience. But as we see with the rise of online commerce, having the most accurate data on customer intent means you can transform everything to meet real and future demand. Now there’s no need for offline businesses to not have the same levels of data – the trick is to digitise the real world so that it becomes an open book waiting to be read.


Read more: Digital transformation: Companies are either too scared or not scared enough