December 11, 2020
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What is a digital transformation agency?

Enterprise digital transformation projects aren’t for the faint of heart. That’s where we come in. In this post, we’ll define what a digital transformation is and why enterprise organizations need to leverage an experienced partner before, during, and after a major digital initiative.
Jessica Owens
INTEGRATED MARKETING MANAGER

First, let’s start at square one.

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation is the strategic commitment to embrace and continuously update digital applications, processes, and experiences throughout your organization in order to achieve and sustain competitive advantage.

Digital transformation looks different for every company. It may involve updating and integrating systems for better efficiency and insights. It may mean improving customer experiences and growing your client base through digital channels. Or, it could be moving from exclusive B2B distribution to direct ecommerce.

No matter the motivation, it’s about improving your organization from the inside out through digital.

What does a digital transformation agency do?

Organization-wide projects involve buy-in and behavior changes internally and externally. The best digital partners know how to shepherd enterprise organizations through complex and mission critical digital initiatives while making sure project objectives are met and cross-functional stakeholders are aligned.

Among consulting and guiding, digital transformation agencies help businesses:

  • Audit current systems and processes
  • Conduct customer and stakeholder research
  • Identify risks and the impact of each
  • Evaluate platforms and processes (CMS, PIM, ERP, CRM, etc.)
  • Integrate and centralize business data
  • Streamline product development processes
  • Develop a multi-year roadmap
  • Manage digital initiatives and timelines

Most importantly, digital consulting partners worth their salt will provide you with an objective and honest evaluation of your current state. They won’t immediately provide a solution. They’ll first help you evaluate and understand all your options, uncover the pitfalls, and then they’ll recommend what’s best for you, not the next service they happen to provide.

Why do you need a digital transformation partner?

To scale a legendary mountain peak, you wouldn’t buy a pair of hiking boots and just start walking. First, you’d do your research, understand the terrain, evaluate your existing assets and skills, and then develop a plan for a safe expedition up. You’d make preparations, perhaps take practice runs, and also make sure you have what you need for a successful trip back down the other side. The same is true for a major shift in your digital strategy.

Woman hiking up grassy hill in summer time.

An objective and experienced third party can help you prepare the troops, set realistic timelines and goals, and identify the best solutions and platforms for your unique business processes. They’ll analyze your current state and develop an effective plan to help you prepare for the terrain ahead.

It’s also critical to identify pitfalls and develop robust plans of action to ensure your organization’s success—after all, these projects affect many departments and functions, and most of all, your end customer. During a digital transformation project, you’ll need to reduce your blind spots, too. So, your partner should be your trail guide and your watch tower.

What does a transformation project include?

Goal

It all starts with the goal of improving your systems, processes, and human experiences (customers and employees!) to improve the way you accomplish your business objectives. It could be adopting a new customer relationship management (CRM) software and integrating it into your website. It could be a manufacturer pursuing ecommerce for the first time. Whatever the motivation, digital transformation projects help organizations take a look at the big picture and consider all the ways your business may be affected by or benefit from digital.

Process

Digital transformation projects are long-term. For example, some of our largest enterprise clients need three-year roadmaps because they’re overhauling ERP systems or enacting global process changes. These project plans could cover:

  • Process and system audits
  • Customer and stakeholder surveys
  • Platform evaluations
  • Data clean-up
  • Design
  • Development
  • Deployment
  • Continuous analysis

Our digital transformation engagements start with a custom roadmapping study.

Objectives

Numerous priorities drive digital transformation projects. These big initiatives will affect multiple functions, key stakeholders, and your end customer. Consider the impact, requirements, and risks of each decision point, and take a holistic and practical approach to tackling your objectives.

Here are a few examples of what organizations may execute during a transformation.

  • Updating ERP software
  • Integrating a CRM system (e.g. Salesforce) with a new website
  • Creating a business data analytics strategy
  • Improving customer experiences through digital channels
  • Adopting new product development processes and procedures
  • Moving to ecommerce for the first time
  • Consolidating or integrating multiple MarTech systems
  • Creating digital tools, configurators, and apps to support the sales funnel

What to look for in a digital transformation partner

Some digital agencies aim to deliver it all—web design, ecommerce, marketing, branding, media planning, hosting, etc. We’ve found success in specialization. Our clientele is made up of enterprise manufacturers, mature technology companies, and large healthcare networks. We understand how complex organizational processes and platforms can become over time, and we have a special knack for untangling the mess.

Long-term, strategic partnership

Our partnerships last anywhere from three to seven years or longer. And we expect our clients to be strategically committed to digital, from the CEO to the front lines. You don’t need a quick win when it comes to digital transformation. This is the long game, and you need a partner you can trust and grow with over time.

Technical strategy and execution

Many agencies execute compelling website designs, rebrands, and digital marketing campaigns. But where we’ve seen clients struggle in the past is often behind the curtain. It’s the technical integration of their ERP with their ecommerce platform. It’s the creation, management, and syndication of their product data. It’s the promise of a beautiful online store front, but no analytics strategy to provide insights on whether anything is actually working.

Don’t fall for the shiny without considering the technical implementation and implications!

Thorough and objective analysis

Your digital transformation partner shouldn’t be promising you the moon without a thorough investigation into your current digital ecosystem. If someone immediately offers you a solution, let that be a red flag.

“Over the years, we’ve seen many a client come to us struggling after a failure to launch or an initiative that didn’t adequately satisfy business requirements. That’s why we don’t rush into a ‘one size fits all’ solution. For every client, we’re going to work to understand your business and current processes first. We’re going to do the research and then provide an objective and honest recommendation. Most importantly, we’re going to be realistic and pragmatic with you. Then, we get to work.”

How to prepare your company for digital transformation

When organizations invest in digital transformation, it’s a strategic commitment made at the highest levels of the company. It requires significant capital investment and resource support, and it requires behavioral changes for both customers and employees.

Gather your leadership and discuss your goals and objectives. Identify the most important internal and external stakeholders—those who understand the current state and what’s at stake if you may fail.

Lastly, take your time and do your research. The right digital partner is out there.

Is product data management a part of your digital initiative? Check out our free download: PIM for Executives: 4 Steps to Prepare for a PIM Project.

Ntara coworkers hike along river in Northeast Tennessee in the summer time.