03 / 06 / 2021

Where to start with your digital transformation

Digital transformation... where do you start? Read our blog for our expert tips...


Successful digital transformation relies on an agile strategy, strong leadership and effective use of technology. Sometimes simply mentioning the words ‘digital transformation' is enough to send housing associations into a panic. It doesn’t always mean overhauling your business from top-to-bottom. You can still incorporate your competitive assets and provide services that use both traditional and digital service delivery. So, digital transformation...where to start?

The eventual goal of digital transformation is to make every aspect of business “digital” in order to provide better customer service and products while optimising operations along the way. But remember that it is a process, not an overnight conversion. Customer behaviour, business activities, models and ecosystems are all affected by digital transformation.

There are typically three stages to achieve digital innovation maturity: engaging in digital transformation, executing on digital transformation and, finally, achieving digital transformation.

These are some of the main things you need to consider before you begin:


Assess Your Needs

Digital transformation is centred around providing for your customers. The general nature of business is reciprocal, so any digital channel shift needs to be based on the needs of both your business and your customers. Ultimately, you’re looking to achieve efficiency, increase your online presence, improve customer service and save money.

As a starting point, you need to assess your business’s maturity across the elements of digital innovation. For example, how digitised are your services? Are you making full use of social media channels? How much capital and manpower do you have to launch a pilot project?

You also need to consider your customer’s needs. Perhaps they are looking for cheap ways to access the internet, or want to learn how to use digital services. Whatever their needs may be, you need to find flexible ways to accommodate them. Otherwise, your strategy will be out of sync with your customer base.

Create a Strategy to Achieve Your Goals

When you understand your needs, you can build a basic road map of the next steps using a consistent framework across relevant departments. These two steps are the most difficult because businesses accumulate operational baggage over time. Consolidating and migrating to new processes and tools can be time-consuming. Don’t delay and suffer analysis paralysis—a digital transformation requires agility and swift change.

Businesses tend to approach going fully digital either by digitising their value chain or embracing disruptive digital innovation and focussing on creating new products and business models. Regardless of which method you choose, you need to outline how your organisation is going to deliver services through contact channels that provide better value for money and are designed with your customer in mind. Consider channels such as face-to-face, mobile apps, email and social media, and map out how you plan to use these services across an integrated platform.

Secure Quick Wins

When you secure quick wins, you gain greater confidence. To get your company’s buy-in, try to meet the goals of smaller projects built towards achieving your overall vision. Break down larger objectives into smaller milestones, be specific about what their metrics are, and focus your efforts on achieving them to make quick progress.

For example, it’s difficult to track progress if you look at your overall goals and say, ‘We want more people to download our app'. Instead, your goal should be specific, such as ‘we want 1000 people to download our app in the first week so that by the end of the month we can reach our target of 4000 users’. This outlines a clear goal with a trackable metric.

Successful Projects are Continuously Optimised

Not every digital channel shift will go according to plan. So, what are the ingredients for successful projects? Strong leadership, accountability and high-calibre teams. Stagnation is the death of channel shift. Similar to an agile marketing approach, you need to think about improving speed, predictability, transparency and adaptability to remain ahead of your competitors.

To remain agile, you should form small in-house teams dedicated to managing specific channels. Start by focussing on channels that are high in value and monitor how new strategies affect customer behaviour. Be proactive; if one strategy does not work, then adopt another until you are happy with the performance of key channels. Ultimately, the ROI of your main channels will shape your overarching strategy and digital transformation.

Digital transformation requires strong core systems and business applications to drive change, as well as sound leadership and quick reaction to change. To start your digital transformation, you need to digital channel shift. Find out more about how it will increase your efficiency by reading our book, Shift! How to Make Channel Shift Happen in Housing.

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