How the channel can empower customers' digital transformations: the transactional and transformational
Over the past few years there has been a major increase in organisations adopting digital tools. With serious cost and efficiency gains to be generated, the benefits of transitioning to digital ways of working are no great secret; and companies are now consistently seeking to streamline with varying degrees of success.
As well as the hard business advantages, there is also a recognition that the workforce is changing. By 2020, it's estimated that 70% of the workforce will be millennial or Generation Z. That means a new wave of individuals who haven't simply adopted technology or had it thrusted upon them; they've grown up with it for the most part, and expect to be able to work in a dynamic and connected environment. Internally, a dedication to more in-depth digital working helps employees perform their responsibilities better while also aiding recruitment. Externally, it smooths how simply others can interact with businesses across all touch points.
With the channel providing that vital layer between vendor and customer, it has a unique role to play in educating businesses around the need for digital transformation and how best to approach it. Organisations turn to channel partners for help and advice around how best to integrate technology into operations, meaning it's vital that those conversations are handled in the right way.
Open and honest dialogue about what's truly required
When approaching the subject, the processes should be broken down into two separate models; the transactional and the transformational. The transactional represents 'quick wins', solutions that can be introduced quickly and provide tangible benefits. The transformational seeks to address the fabric of an organisation to entirely overhaul its processes.
The first port of call should be the customer's architecture and 'old-school' services at the core of their business. Can some / all of it be migrated to the cloud or to SaaS models? These 'transactional' changes can be relatively simple to action, yet provide big benefits quickly. Furthermore, they create a flexible digital foundation that is ready for future transformational enhancements.
Now it gets really exciting once attention turns to the transformational. There is a flourishing pipeline of technology making its way into the mainstream, so there's an opportunity to encourage customers to adopt them early or, at least, get them to begin prepping their architecture for adoption down the line. Innovation such as the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) or boundary-pushing data science will all play a big role in business moving forward; and ensuring that frameworks are in place for their seamless integration helps to build lasting relationships.
While two sides of the digital transformation coin, the two models can differ in many aspects such as upfront cost and solution longevity. As such, it's important that channel partners sit down with customers to run-through what is truly needed. Tailored advice which takes into consideration current operations and the wider business landscape may elongate the initial sales process, but it sets the foundations for repeat business.
Cutting through the digital transformation noise
There is so much messaging around digital transformation available that the market has become saturated. It has reached the apex of the hype circle and the all-encompassing term is so broadly used that it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees. In other words, many just find it too complex to focus on the information and data that is truly relevant to them.
Solving the challenge means circling back to consultation and expertise. Channel partners need to be able to cut through the noise for customers, delivering action plans that ensure the transformation benefits that will enable them to flourish. There isn't a one-size-fits-all; all firms are unique in their priorities, and understanding what those key drivers are is vital. When channel partners take the time to analyse and create tailored action plans, they can recommend the specific tools and vendor solutions that will deliver a seamless and cost-optimised move to a digital-enabled future.