The word on the lips of business the world over is “digital”. In a bid to digitise, businesses are migrating to the cloud, developing an active social media presence and buying more software than ever, but is that really what it means to go digital? It depends.

For some, digitisation is a push for efficiency, a better customer experience, reduced cost and a work-life balance. For others, it’s a new coat of paint on an old system – it’s superficial at best. It’s that fundamental difference of approach that we argue defines what it means to go digital or to lag behind.

The digital veneer – if this is you, it’s time to take a step back

Put simply: if digital initiatives don’t align with the business model, they’re likely superfluous and may even do more damage than good. Instead, going digital should be about enhancing a process, reducing its operational cost or adding new value. But it’s important to achieve as many of those benefits as possible.

The easiest mistake to make is to purchase software or technology based on promises of a salesman; a salesman whose only job is your purchase. They will promise the world and sell you software destined to be retired to the shelf. Instead, ask yourself what is the value you might gain, how it affects desired business outcomes, weigh that against costs, skill, labour and time requirements, and finally, what is the ROI? Request a demonstration and make sure that the technology provider provides consistent support following the purchase, as well as assisting with integration.

Imagine a financial services provider for a moment. The wrong way to go about digitisation would be to invest in a cloud PBX that cannot integrate into your CRM. Even if it does save you money and improve governance, it’s no good if customers must re-describe their entire journey with you every time they get in contact. They want to be remembered.

Poor prioritisation is another common offence in the world of digital business. When you’re handling money for clients, the wrong way to go about digitisation is to invest in web conferencing software when network security is still based on aged legacy systems and data is only stored on premises.

Prioritisation is key

It’s easy to say that a technology should give you the best of everything. But most businesses, understandably, approach digitisation as a piecemeal process. It’s simply too costly or risky to replace a legacy system wholesale and hope for the best. So, how should they go about achieving all business outcomes? Prioritise the systems that make the most sense.

Let’s go back to our financial services provider, whose continued existence is contingent on customer loyalty and trust. It behoves them to conduct an audit of their customer experience and how efficiently and accurately problems are being resolved.

Integrating their CRM into a comprehensive omnichannel contact centre – cloud PBX, social media, website chat bots, live support etc. – is a great first step. From there, clients can be directed to their point of contact before the phone is even answered – their information already on screen for the agent to see. That personal touch will also allow agents to diffuse tense situations more effectively.

The other priority would seem to be security and business continuity. Losing a customer’s money is untenable, but even losing sight of it during system downtime is a serious offence on its own. Cloud system redundancy and email security – email is still responsible for around 90% of all hacks – should be the first things on the list.

That’s just the beginning of the journey. It’s a journey of continued assessment of current systems, how they affect your business’s continued operation, and where additional value can be derived. As areas for improvement arrive, prioritise what’s most important and weigh how those performance indicators currently stand against how they would be affected by newer technologies.