The Internet has fundamentally changed the world in the past 30 years. There’s hardly any aspect of living that those inventions haven’t affected. Now, with decades of the continuous advances in technology behind us, we use digital tools every day — whether we’re telling Alexa to turn off the lights, shopping online, or streaming movies on Netflix. In recent years, businesspeople coined the term “digital transformation,” (DT) which refers to how businesses use digital technology to interact with customers, employees, and other stakeholders. 

Perhaps George Westerman, an MIT principal research scientist, best defined digital transformation. He points out that “digital transformation marks a radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people and processes to fundamentally change business performance.” 

Transforming a company in fundamental ways has never been easy, and success has never been guaranteed. So, it is with digital transformation. Many consider DT a disruptive force, yet pundits remind us that using digital tools has become a competitive advantage. And that’s why most producers, shippers, carriers and nearly every company that sells physical products views DT as a positive, growth-oriented metamorphosis. DT has become an integral part of logistics and supply chain thinking. 

Logistics Viewpoints, an advisory consultancy, surveyed 8,000 companies on the importance of digital transformation in logistics and found that … 

  • “… 98 percent of supply chain technology decision-makers are looking for improvements in their logistics technology stack. Furthermore, all shippers are under real pressure to continually increase efficiency, and they are looking at technology as a means to achieve this.
  • 88 percent of shippers believe technology is a core part of the answer — more than ever before. They want technology to improve transparency and reliability.”

Embrace Digital Transformation for Your Business

Today, producers, shippers, and carriers are all challenged with adapting to this change. Let’s look at why embracing digital transformation is so important. 

First, a successful logistics program — one that delights your customers with consistently reliable and speedy deliveries and that helps grow your business — has always been driven by efficiency, optimization, speed, and spot-on timing. Amazon and Walmart have been using DT to allure customers into thinking they can receive almost any order the next day or, at worst, two days later. Those vendors and others have set a high bar for every company that delivers physical products. Companies that have not embraced DT yet are at a significant competitive disadvantage because customers increasingly prefer digital solutions and the efficiencies they bring. 

Second, DT relies upon advances in digital technologies, and those advances are coming faster and more frequently than ever before. Consider speech recognition as an example: Not too long ago, it was a topic found only in sci-fi stories. Today, it’s ubiquitous and is a standard program in smartphones, websites, smart speakers, automobiles, and countless other devices. The rapid spread of digital technologies has become possible because technologists use each new development like a “plug and play” module they can embed in various devices. In short, advances in digital technology are accelerating, and that signals an even brighter future for digital transformation. 

Third, DT gives you tools that minimize risk and prevent fraud. Every day, about half the people living on the planet and four of every five U.S. citizens execute online transactions, which drives a $3.4 trillion digital economy. The Federal Trade Commission reported that in 2019, consumers reported losing more than $1.9 billion related to fraud complaints, an increase of $293 million from 2018. However, beyond the financial loss fraud creates, companies often build entire departments dedicated to fraud detection and prevention. Those operating costs subtract even further from the bottom line. 

Fourth, embracing digital transformation shines a light on processes and resources you can improve further. For instance, Network World surveyed more than 1,300 companies in 2019 that had launched DT initiatives. The survey found that their networks were unable to keep up with the demands made by cloud connectivity and mobile users — a finding that would not have existed but for their DT efforts. 

Finally, an effective DT strategy can boost your existing revenue sources and may help to identify new ones. Much of those gains come from closer engagement with customers and increased customer satisfaction — all of which leads to overall growth, security, and profitability

What You Need to Know as You Consider Digital Transformation

As we noted above, launching a successful DT initiative may not appear easy. While mapping out a comprehensive plan is beyond the scope of this article, a portion of this planning Anvl can help you develop. In the meantime, consider these major steps.

  • Work with your executive team to clearly define your objectives. 
  • Plan to take bold action. If you focus on small changes, you’re likely to miss bigger opportunities to improve the business.
  • Decide to design the initiative with adaptive principles that allow you to modify the overall plan as it’s implemented.
  • Follow agile development principles.
  • Adopt, maintain, and advocate a strong inclination toward successfully implementing change to your entire team. 

Results You Can Expect

In the short term, you should experience greater efficiencies and overall productivity. 

You’ll do a far better job of meeting and exceeding customer expectations, which leads to increased customer satisfaction and greater customer lifetime values. Ask yourself: Would your customers prefer to get instant answers to their questions from an AI-empowered chatbot, or do they prefer to endlessly search your website for answers? Some of the improvements you make will show results almost immediately.

Others will take longer, but the inherent sustainability of digital tools makes your business more durable and resilient to environmental changes — like the COVID-19 pandemic that forced companies to make major adjustments in how they operate. Digital technologies can work with only minimal human oversight in most cases, which gives your customers the services they expect whether the entire workforce is present or not.

Conclusion

Are you seeking expert guidance to help you create a path to digital transformation? Are you ready to reduce waste and money on paper-based operations? If so, let Anvl be your partner on the path to digital transformation. Our team will go deep into your defined business problem and map out an end-to-end solution that achieves real business results. We meet you where you are and develop an approach and timeline that works best for your team. We’re ready to help you develop and implement a plan that will drive your business forward.