Digital transformation has become a hot topic as of late. Once you decide that your business needs one, how do you go about actually implementing the technology to bring your business forward? Here are three key ways that most businesses need to adapt for the digital age, and some technology that can help get you there:
Understanding how your business (and your market) is changing is critical. Where your users come from, what they want and what they’re doing is essential data you should be collecting. But collection is not enough — your data needs to be aggregated, analyzable and accessible by those who need it.
Services like Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics can get you started on tracking user activity. Tools like mParticle can let you route your analytic events to multiple destinations, so if some analytics are better utilized by certain tools, you don’t have to integrate multiple analytics software development kits (SDKs).
Other analysis tools like Amplitude can help you take a step back from the actual data and see activity at a higher level. (Full disclosure: mParticle and Amplitude are both Bottle Rocket partners.) Are users having trouble finding where to start, or do they get lost in the middle of the process? We optimize for what we measure, so measure the areas you want to transform.
Once you have your analytics in place, you’ll want to create dashboards that can bring the most critical information to the forefront, so you can keep a spotlight on the most important things. Will it be higher user acquisition, larger purchases or shorter times to complete tasks? Building a baseline before you make changes will provide better insight into where you’re seeing the most benefit and will help justify the huge amount of work in the next two areas. There are many tools that fit this need, such as Tableau, Microsoft Power BI or Google Data Studio.
Another huge area of digital transformation is making your data more readily available to your own employees, partners or the general public. You’ll need to put a lot of thought into the API design, and tools like Apiary can make it easier to share and communicate your ideas to others. This doesn’t mean all your data should be public (far from it), but you should be thinking about how easy your data is to access and analyze.
Having a decade’s worth of invoices is great, but if they are stored on tape drive backups and can’t be retrieved easily, they are useless to everyone but the auditors. The infrastructure to convert your data into something that allows for APIs could be as big of a transformation as anything else you do. You might convert your data to an Amazon Web Services (AWS) data lake or have your APIs running on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
Consider how your APIs will scale. Using cloud services such as AWS or GCP can help ensure you’ll have the ability to scale when you need it, but tools like Metrics can give you analytics on your APIs to make sure they are constantly available. Part of a digital transformation is being online 24/7, and poor performance can lead to stunted growth. Understanding which parts of your infrastructure will be affected first will let you plan and prioritize accordingly.
No matter what business you’re in, there will be some sort of mobile aspect to it. Whether it is customers ordering your products or services or keeping your own employees up to date with the latest information, people expect to be able to access anything, anywhere, right now. This doesn’t mean you must build a native mobile app for Android and iOS. Mobile websites and progressive web apps are becoming more and more capable and increasingly offer the functionality required for your digital transformation.
When deciding between various platforms, understand what your primary use cases will benefit from. Do you need precise location tracking with push notifications and hardware-level encryption? Then native apps are probably the way to go. Hourly access to send status updates and verify task completion? A svelte web experience may provide the most bang for the buck.
The value of your mobile strategy arrives when you’re able to use your analytics and APIs to connect with your users more dynamically. Using your analytics data to send the right messages to the right people at the right time can transform their experience with your brand. Extending functionality through your APIs that clients want or need can cement their loyalty for life.
BEYOND THE BASICS
Once these three big areas are in place, you’ll want to start thinking about reducing or removing as many manual steps in the process as possible. Will you automate your build systems to support continuous integration using tools such as Jenkins, or maybe automate testing? Automated testing can help ensure that any changes to your new digital ecosystem will continue working for your existing users.
A digital transformation is no small task and can take years to accomplish. Starting with analytics, APIs and a solid mobile strategy can help you build a road map that will propel your business to the next level.