The technology trap: why some "digital" tools end up holding back your digital transformation
The digital era has arrived faster than some of us have anticipated. And while many organizations have been thrust into the world of remote work and remote service before they were prepared to do so, the fact is digital is here to stay.
Digital transformation is a never-ending journey with new technologies and solutions constantly emerging and enabling new business models and creating new opportunities. Organizations that fail to adapt – on an ongoing basis – and disrupt – their old, comfortable, familiar ways of operating, will be left behind, lose their competitive advantage, and ultimately find themselves out of business. So going digital isn’t just something that happens once – it is an ongoing process that never ends.
The biggest mistake organizations make: starting with the technology, not the process
Digital transformation has the potential to revolutionize how an organization operates and delivers value to customers. But going digital is more than just the mindless application of different “digital” technologies – it’s a state of mind that first and foremost guides how business processes and interactions are conceptualized and designed.
Only after the processes have been designed from the ground up to be inherently digital can the appropriate technologies be chosen and implemented to achieve the desired goals. Slapping fancy technology on fundamentally manual processes in a hodge-podge of ad-hoc solutions is the wrong way to go about digital transformation.
Unfortunately, in an attempt to “go digital”, most organizations look at only one component within a process – technology.
Often mesmerized by “the next shiny thing”, organizations start looking for ways they can apply it to “digitize” a discrete component, without looking at the whole picture of how this technology works with all the other pieces of the puzzle.
This creates a mishmash of solutions being applied to the same process, failing to really change how the company does business at the most fundamental level.
Why we need to embrace digital state of mind
So how will you make sure you’re doing the right thing? Let’s start by understanding what we mean by “the digital state of mind” by looking at four technologies that are being increasingly used (and sometimes abused) as companies seek to “go digital”, but are actually incompatible with true digital transformation.
Optical character recognition (OCR)
OCR (Optical character recognition) is a well-established tool for data capture that extracts data by scanning and processing paper or PDF forms. But it only helps the company improve its operational efficiency – it does nothing for the customer experience.
After all, asking a customer to download a form, fill it out by hand and then scan it back, at which point OCR is used to extract the data is not a digital-friendly experience for the customer.
You might have improved your operational process and reduced human resource requirements and cut costs, but the value this improvement in operational efficiency behind the scenes brings to your customers is limited, at best.
And that’s ignoring the fact that OCR systems are notorious for data errors that result in high NIGO (not in good order) rates, which means even your operational gains aren’t even guaranteed.
So the bottom line is that applying technology while still using paper forms – or any kind of form that requires a second step to extract the data from the form – is the result of failing to adopt a “digital state of mind”.
Paper and manual processes are antithetical to digital transformation, and trying to apply solutions that maintain this status quo is only going to hurt the organization in the long term.
Robotic process automation
RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is a generic automation tool that creates specialized agents that can automate clerical, repetitive tasks and create a workflow.
The problem with applying RPA to automate a process is that once the organization begins using the RPA, it essentially locks the same process into place “as is”, with only the appearance of being a digital organization.
Ultimately, the process is still tied to legacy systems and approaches that are inherently anti-digital, thus its digital initiatives are built on an outdated and shaky foundation. And like OCR, while RPA may improve the operational side, it does nothing in terms of customer experience or bringing value to customers.
eForms – digital data collection
eForm (electronic form) is a digital version of a paper form.
On one hand, it indeed eliminates the use of paper from the process from the very beginning which both improves the customer experience and improves data gathering accuracy. But on another, eForms can only take you so far.
Customers today expect to get a consistent digital journey across multiple channels. They expect a frictionless customer journey, with everything being accessible anywhere, anytime.
They want to be able to change devices (moving from their laptop to their mobile) and have an intuitive understanding of the process.
This omnichannel-accessible seamless integration and interaction with the service provider is at the heart of the digital state of mind that the customer expects and the company should strive for. But like OCR and RPA, eForms in and of themselves are too siloed to enable the seamless digital experience, and don’t provide the means for delivering the optimal experience that delivers both customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.
Code. Lots and lots of code
Coding solutions from scratch internally is a preferred solution for many enterprises. Heavy reliance on legacy code has major drawbacks. Trying to “go digital” by building internal development teams to write code to digitize everything simply isn’t feasible.
Code = Slow time to market + maintenance pain
It takes too long to build ahead of initial deployment and requires too much effort to maintain and modify to keep pace in today’s world that expects virtually immediate responsiveness. Furthermore, in most cases, the businesses’ operations are too complex to lend themselves to digitization through code.
There will always be a significant part of the businesses’ operations that are simply put on the backburner indefinitely and never dealt with. In the end, companies end up running two parallel operations: one part is handled digitally and another on old system ways of working. Juggling data between the two is not the task for the faint-hearted.
The bottom line: organizations need to find a way to solve the increasing pressure on IT and open up bandwidth for delivering truly digital, connected, personalized experiences for their end-customers, partners, and employees. Code is not always the best solution by far.
Embracing digital transformation starts with customer-facing processes
Digital state of mind means designing business processes that are inherently optimized both in terms of back-end operations AS WELL AS seamless digital customer experience, as expected by consumers when they interact with service providers today.
The four technologies above – applied in a siloed manner – all fail this test of providing both an optimal front-end AND back-end business experience.
With the help of no-code by EasySend, you can embrace digital transformation by optimizing customer-facing processes and provide transparent digital customer experience with no-coding required!