Digital transformation (sometimes abbreviated as DX) means changing an organisation’s working processes, mindset, supporting technology or business model to include the latest technological advancements. While there are various different types of digital transformation, experts have identified 3 ways that businesses and non-profit companies implement them.
These are the 3 ways for organisations to digitalise:
PUSH, where the digital transformation is driven from the backend
PULL, where the digital transformation is driven from the frontend
JUMP, where the digital transformation happens all at once across the whole organisation
“Put your back into it” – propelling digital transformation from the backend
To create a digital enterprise takes a lot of willpower from everyone involved in the business. One way for organisations to propel this kind of radical change is from behind.
This can include such initiatives as overhauling procedures related to digital technology by changing the employee guidelines for inputting raw data, or changing the backend technology itself.
When N-Essentials, an Australian retailer of bespoke natural beauty products, found that sales on their online store were being affected by excessively slow site loading times, they decided to undertake the ‘push’ kind of digital transformation.
Over the years, they had built up a complicated and often contradictory network of plug-ins to try and enhance parts of their website, so they migrated the entire site to a new commerce platform, BigCommerce, which came pre-loaded with all the same features and more. They took advantage of moving to the new system to update SEO and design themes, plus add more payment options to improve the customer experience. In turn, these changes forced the people in the organisation to think in a new way and interact with customers differently in accordance with their improved digital capabilities.
In this way, the backend transformation of their digital system drove digital innovation in other areas of the business.
Your frontend has to be strong to pull the rest of the organisation forward
If ‘push digital transformation’ is the stick driving the ass of change, then ‘pull’ is the carrot that coaxes it along. It relies on building large, visually pleasing changes to the frontend of the organisation as a way of inspiring digital transformation in other, less visible but equally as important parts.
An article in the Harvard Business Review compared this kind of digital transformation to the city of Dubai’s construction of the world’s tallest skyscrapers and showy new architectural wonders as a way to attract more investment and bring the rest of the city up as a result.
One example of ‘pull digital transformation’ is provided by Wall Art Prints, an Australian company that specialises in providing unique artworks from local artists to support both the customer and the artist.
Wanting to scale their operation into new countries and markets, Wall Art Prints decided to start by creating an intuitive new frontend User Interface for their expanding range of regional online stores. This included letting users view the artwork in different styles and different printing materials, adding an easy-to-use new payment gateway, and setting up a B2B2C marketplace model on Magento so artists can sell their works directly to customers while customising their own descriptions, tags and prices, while also being able to follow inventory levels and sales.
By making these targeted changes to revolutionise the experience of customers and users interacting with the brand, Wall Art Prints was able to boost their company’s visibility as a whole in multiple new markets. The newfound attention and funding enabled them to go back and focus on updating the organisation’s backend digital systems, too.
Jump into digital transformation head-first
The last way to implement digital transformation is different from the first two. It isn’t led either from behind or in front, but involves envisioning an entirely different digital landscape for the company all at the same time.
For some businesses and brands, this may be the most difficult way to transform and modernise the technology, mindset or model of their business because it can lead to the most disruption. Trying to replace and renew all the outdated facets of the company wholesale could result in a period of loss of revenue while the changeover is taking place.
Aspire Lifestyles, however, is an example of a company that managed to do ‘jump digital transformation’ the right way. The concierge services and solutions provider uses customer data to provide other brands’ clients with exclusive deals and discounts.
Their previous information architecture, however, was too complicated and inefficient. Data was stored in a series of siloes, so clients couldn’t manage and retrieve it from the systems easily. The problem was one of backend inefficiency combined with difficulty for end users in using the system. They needed a complete makeover.
On the one hand, a new Digital Content Repository Centre was created on Sitecore to serve as a single database built on a flexible and scalable API framework which any number of users can access with their own personal Customer Key. At the same time, a new user-friendly admin interface with improved search and navigation functions made accessing and managing the information much more intuitive.
Overhauling the frontend and backend of the company’s technological systems at the same time was obviously a great stress for Aspire Lifestyles, but it was worth it to offer their clients a better service and keep their business competing on the forefront for years to come. The initial digital transformation project took 3 months, but knowing that digital transformation is a continuing process of constant improvement, Aspire has kept SmartOSC on as service provider for managed support and rolling digital transformation in the future.
Application Programming Interface (API)
Building a headless design into the company structure means the frontend and backend work independently from each other. Headless is especially useful when trying to undertake either ‘push’ or ‘pull’ digital transformation, because these two methods involve working to digitally transform one end of the organisation first, and then benefitting from the fallout to transform the other end.
Having all the procedures and parts of the organisation hosted on the cloud is a good tech solution to implement digital transformation with the ‘jump’ method because it makes the process of change a lot more agile.
Businesses spent $1.3 trillion on technology and services for digital transformation after COVID-19 in 2020, a spending increase of 10.4% compared to the previous year according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).
Despite this, many companies don’t have a clear idea of what digital transformation is and how to implement it. Digital Transformation is not just about moving from offline to online, but can also be about the transformation of existing digital structures in the company. And, as we’ve seen, there are 3 ways for organisations to approach digital transformation: push, pull and jump.
None of these ways are better than any other. It depends on your company goals and what you can reasonably achieve with the resources you’ve got whether you push digital transformation in your organisation from behind, pull it forward with frontend changes, or if you take the leap and do a wholesale digital transformation all at once.
In any case, one thing’s for sure. All companies will need to embrace digital transformation in some form to survive this decade.
SmartOSC is an international development agency offering scalable, world-class enterprise solutions. Call us or write a message to get your digital transformation project off the ground.