The digital transformation has been underway for many years already, but 2020 has forced record numbers of businesses to adopt business channels. Recent data points to five years’ worth of progress in digital adoption – in the space of just eight weeks – early on in the coronavirus pandemic.
While the pandemic has not changed the direction of digital transformation, it has clearly sped the process up – or at least the need for it. In this article, we summarise the reason why digital transformation is more important than ever and how businesses of all sizes can maximise its potential.
The age of digital growth
Look at any market in its current state and, in the vast majority of cases, offline growth is either limited or saturated. Today, business success happens online or, at the very least, by integrating the offline and online experiences – think the likes of Deliveroo where people can book orders using their phones and wait for the knock at their door.
There are three key principles driving this growth:
- Accessibility: People spend the majority of their free time connected, meaning online channels provide the best way to engage today’s consumers.
- Reach: Online channels connect you with as much of the world as your business requires.
- Relevance: Digital platforms allow you to deliver highly relevant messages and personalised experiences that connect with individuals in a meaningful way – something impossible to achieve through traditional channels.
The coronavirus pandemic has not changed any of this, but it has turned these benefits into survival essentials for businesses capable of making the digital transition. It is also proven how smaller businesses that may have thought online channels were not for them truly can transform their enterprise by moving online.
Take a look at how this local bakery in Norfolk not only survived but thrived during lockdown through digital transformation.
Opening up new opportunities
If local businesses can turn digital channels into success during the most difficult business climate we have seen in living memory, surely the opportunity for larger enterprises can only be even bigger.
The obvious limitation for local businesses is that they can only operate within their area (although this can change with the right kind of digital growth strategy).
Businesses that are not limited by location have even more to gain from turning to digital channels by expanding their audience as far as they like. Facebook alone can connect you with more than two billion people around the world, while Google handles an incredible 3.5 billion searches every day.
Whether you want to expand regionally, nationally or internationally, digital channels can connect you with audiences on any scale. Crucially, they also provide targeting options to help you pinpoint audiences by location, demographics (age, gender, etc.) and even their interests.
So, instead of promoting ads to everyone watching the same TV channel, you can deliver them to people with a proven interest in your message, on their favourite platform.
Building meaningful relationships through language
Location aside, the key barrier standing between brands and global success is language. When you look at success stories like Uber and Airbnb, they have all excelled at engaging audiences around the world by translating their messages and even adapting them to appeal to the interests of local audiences.
This is crucial for any business looking to capitalise on the global reach of digital transformation.
Digital channels are content hungry and you have to provide a constant stream of engaging content to engage each audience. You cannot afford for messages to misfire due to poor translation, a lack of localisation or misunderstanding the needs of individual audiences.
The challenge for digital brands is to produce engaging messages in a cost-effective way, especially as your list of target audiences increases. Above all, you need to ensure that campaigns get results and this requires the right expertise, including language experts who can deliver the required message every time.
However, you also need the right tools to make digital channels manageable, such as machine translation and translation management software. Another benefit of digital technology is how much of key processes can now be automated so human experts can focus on the more creative and decision-oriented tasks.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming increasingly capable of automating time-consuming tasks and even making decisions where enough data and repeated outcomes are present.
While it is more apparent now than ever that businesses need to make the digital transformation as soon as possible, the good news is that we have never had so many tools to make the transition easier and more cost-effective.