The Digital Enterprise: Breaking Down the Buzzword of Digital Transformation

Buzzwords. We love them, we hate them, but we can’t ignore them. “Digital Transformation” is the Queen Bee — the buzziest of all buzzwords. It’s been bandied about from boardrooms to business brunches. But what does it mean to our audiences & industries? And more importantly, how can it improve how we do business? 

To answer that question, we’ve interviewed CIOs across the manufacturing, building products, and distribution industries to get their take on digital transformation—and how to do it right. This series will combine their wisdom with Hunley Group’s insight and experience to give you a hands-on guide to digital transformation. Let’s get started by defining what it really means.

Digital Transformation = “Digital Enterprise”

One of our clients hit the bullseye when they summed up digital transformation as a “Digital Enterprise.” It captures the essence of taking a business and embracing the best tech practices for its specific operations, then digitizing everything that should be digitized. So we’re going to borrow their nomenclature.

This process is no easy feat. It involves automating tasks, maximizing communication (internally and with customers), minimizing costs, and using data in meaningful and useful ways. But the rewards are worth it. A digital enterprise is more agile, efficient, and customer-focused. It’s also better positioned to compete in the hybrid spaces that are coming to define the manufacturing and distribution industries.

Before moving on, let’s clear up a myth. Adopting some high-tech tools in marketing or sales and calling it a day? That’s not digital transformation—that’s just tech-decorating. Digital transformation is the full monty. It’s about centralizing customer databases, getting all departments to share the same information playground, and fostering high-velocity collaboration that boosts efficiency.

Now that we have a better understanding of what digital transformation is (and isn’t), let’s take a look at a few of the common themes that cropped up in our CIO conversations. We’ll be digging into each area in more detail later in the series, but this will give us a good starting point and framework for deeper understanding and connection.

The Integration Superhighway

We’re not building a sandbox—digital transformation goes way beyond that. It’s about constructing an integration superhighway where all systems and processes work together, from administrative and operational tech, to ERP systems and data generation tools. The leaders in your industry are making this integration their prime mission.

Data Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

We’d all like to believe that our data is as pure as the driven snow. Spoiler alert: it’s not. Clean data is about as common as a four-leaf clover in the desert. So, before embarking on any digital transformation initiative, you’re going to need a data cleanup crew.

And before you can clean it, you have to define it.  Do you have a data dictionary and clear requirements around critical data fields? We’re guessing the answer is “no”!

The Beating Heart: People and Process

This story isn’t all about tech. At the core of digital transformation lies its secret ingredient — people and processes. Every CIO we interviewed emphasized the “people-first” approach. They stressed that alignment and having the right team in place is crucial before the technology comes into play. This people-centric view also depends on a thorough understanding of processes across all departments, shaping the path for a smooth transition to new technology.

Change Management Is Non-Negotiable

Change is tough; we get it. But in the world of digital transformation, it’s the name of the game. Is your team willing to embrace those changes across the business? You could have the flashiest tech in the world, but without your team on board and solid training and adoption monitoring processes in place, your digital transformation journey is like a souped-up car with no driver and no roadmap.

Make it Easy to Do Business.

Customers want effortless experiences. How does digital transformation play into this? You need to make it smoother and faster for customers to do business with you. Just like water flows to its lowest point, customers will always choose the path of least resistance — even if it means switching to another vendor or supplier. 

Every CIO we talked to emphasized the importance of using digital transformation to improve the customer experience. This could mean creating easy-to-navigate customer portals, simplifying customer touchpoints, or amping up digital engagement. By eliminating friction, you’re making it easier for customers to choose you over competitors.

What’s Next?

The world of digital transformation is wide and fascinating. Stay tuned as we unpack the details in future articles, exploring the drama of data, the nuances of change management, and the twists and turns of integrating systems and processes. Throughout it all, we’ll connect the process of digital transformation with the benefits, including smarter decision-making, streamlined operations, and an unbeatable competitive edge.

Learn more about how we can help you bring this to life.

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