You may be researching how to implement a mobile-first digital transformation strategy and looking at the bigger picture - not just how it can help your business or organisation in the short-term but the long-term benefits that’ll allow you to keep up and even get ahead in a world where the pace of change is ever-increasing.
There’s a lot of information out there - so much that it can be overwhelming, especially when you don’t have lots of time.
But unlocking the power of mobiles to transform your business can be easy - and help your organisation run more efficiently than ever. This means more financial savings, better operations, and more time to focus on what your business or organisation is all about. Read on for six steps to start making the switch the right way today.
What Is Digital Transformation in business?
Digital transformation in business is two things:
- Integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers.
- It’s a cultural change that requires organisations to continually:
- Challenge the status quo
- Experiment often, and
- Get comfortable with failure. That last bit might sound jarring. But as the wise Yoda says in Star Wars, “The greatest teacher, failure is.”
Or take Michael Jordan. He might be best known as perhaps the greatest basketball player ever and a global icon. But as he himself once said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan was able to keep practising, never gave up, and wasn’t afraid to experiment - which led to him becoming the legend he is. He kept at it, too: it’s how he won six NBA championships instead of just one. Digital transformation works similarly. If you embrace it and keep at it - being unafraid to aim high even if there’s a chance that things might not work out perfectly - then odds are you’ll achieve the results that’ll help take your organisation to the next level.
Digital Transformation on the farm
There are plenty of examples that show the benefits of taking a risk and embracing transformation - examples that are as inspiring as they are a guide for what to do. Brownrigg Agriculture had previously tried getting farm staff to use desktop computers and email to compile and feed production data into their systems. However, this simply added a layer of time-consuming admin at the end of the day. That’s when livestock operations manager Hayden Ashby looked at the possibilities of creating a mobile app with the Tabral platform. “If we could get them using apps on smartphones out in the field, we could solve a lot of issues,” he says. “When you look at it that way, Tabral makes a lot of sense.” One of the first apps was a time management app allowing shepherds to clock off from one farm and clock on at another using their smartphones. Another was to track animal health procedures. A third allowed staff in the field to enter all stock movements without delay to assist in feed budgeting. “We wanted to streamline things in the field, and that’s exactly what we’ve achieved with the Tabral apps,” says Ashby.
The apps reduced the admin burden on staff while increasing accuracy and fine-tuning efficiency. What’s more, it was a painless process - proving digital transformation can be even more beneficial than you might think.
6 Steps to Digital Transformation Using Mobiles
When it comes to digital success, companies need to focus on both strategy and transformation. In fact, they’re intertwined! A solid digital transformation strategy is key to making positive changes across the business. Embrace these six essential steps to make it happen.
Step 1: Perform a digital capabilities audit
Start by understanding how digital technology is affecting your organisation. Conduct a current state assessment to evaluate your current processes and information flows, then compare them to those of similar businesses.
Step 2: Develop digital use cases
Digital use cases are practical scenarios that bridge the gap between your current digital capabilities and where you want to be in terms of Digital Maturity. By leveraging data from channels like websites, social media, and mobile apps, digital use cases can enhance your customer experience.
Determine how mobile can help your business become more efficient and provide a better customer experience. Identify opportunities to use mobile technology and define the required capabilities from both a technical and user perspective.
Examples of digital use cases include:
- IT modernisation such as moving to a cloud environment
- Automating customer support and service
- Using AI-driven insights to improve sales efficiency
- Being ready for remote work
- Retraining your staff
Step 3: Analyse the benefits of use cases
Once you have established the Digital Use Cases, the next step is to perform an analysis of the benefits linked to them. It is a crucial step in ensuring success. Some questions to explore include:
- What are the strategic benefits of digital transformation?
- How will it improve customer experience?
- What impact will digital transformation have on cost savings and efficiency gains?
- How will it improve our worker’s experience?
Step 4: Set up your business priorities
Stop and ask: What’s the problem we’re solving? Is it quality, speed, cost savings, visibility, or something else? Then, pinpoint the most valuable goals by conducting a value driver assessment to determine where to invest.
A value driver assessment is an evaluation of the profits or benefits to the business if the problem is solved. It examines key business drivers and identifies the best digital transformation areas for value.
It assesses questions such as:
- Would it improve the flow of information?
- Would it enhance the visibility of what’s happening, and the accuracy of data received?
- And what would have the most powerful impact on the business?
This assessment needs to gather feedback - a cross-section of “users” in the business, not just the project manager.” This leads to Step 5, where you decide in what order to implement changes.
Step 5: Create an implementation roadmap
Once you’ve got a handle on how each Digital Use Case will affect your business and what it takes to implement them, it’s time to map your digital transformation strategy for the next three years; put together a breakdown of your goals for the next six months, 10 months and three years.
Step 6: Develop business cases
Now it’s time for the crucial last phase: creating and assessing the business cases for all Digital Use Cases. This step determines if they’re doable and worth the investment.
The Better Business Cases™ by The Treasury of New Zealand provides an insightful framework if you need a model to follow.
How mobile tools have accelerated the digital transformation of business
Scanners, tablets, laptops, phones… chances are, you use all of these every day. Scanners have transformed retail; tablets are now pretty standard in truck cabs and dockets. Phones are now cameras, maps, scanners, bank cards, reference books, and more.
The point is versatile, mobile digital tools have rapidly replaced paper forms and large, specialised pieces of technology. They’ve also helped enhance business processes by automating manual tasks, improving customer experience, enabling data-driven decision-making, and bringing greater agility, flexibility, security and more.
Here’s one way to think of how powerful mobile technology is - and how quickly it’s changed society. When the Voyager 1 and 2 space probes were launched in 1977, they were considered state-of-the-art, with a whopping 69.63 kilobytes of memory. By comparison, the average iPhone 5 - a technology more than a decade old - has about 240,000 times the amount of memory (16 gigabytes) and of course, can fit in the palm of your hand.
The pace of digital transformation has only been increasing, too - some mobiles have 512 gigabytes or even 1 terabyte (1,000 gigabytes) of memory, millions of times more than the Voyager probes. But with the right adaptable technologies - i.e. devices and apps - you can harness digital transformation to help your business or organisation keep up with the market, and give customers what they now expect.
Why do businesses use mobile platforms?
What, exactly, is a mobile platform? Simple: it’s a suite of software tools used for designing, creating, and maintaining mobile applications - in other words, apps like you probably already have on your phone.
There are many advantages of a mobile platform. For one, they allow you to make and modify lots of processes using a single technology, meaning anyone can do it even without a lot of engineering or tech experience. They offer flexibility and adaptability - especially important in our post-Covid world.
The post-Covid world has led to staffing pressures at businesses and organisations around the world, no matter the industry. There’s uncertainty, and a keenness to reduce unnecessary travel. Flexibility and adaptability are two of the most important things needed to keep up with a changing landscape.
Erik Brynjolfsson of Stanford University notes that many of the major changes in work are likely to have lasting effects, including “the use of digital technologies, the geography of work, and the nature of interactions.”
Businesses now have people working in dispersed (different) locations, and need to experiment often and get comfortable with failure to adapt. Mobile platforms allow you to do that quickly and easily.
Mobile platforms also enable you to access data, documents and records from anywhere - perfect for remote work. They can streamline processes such as order-taking and inventory management. And most importantly of all, they provide a secure way to store sensitive financial or personal information.
Digital transformation in rural sales
50 agents at NZ Farmers Livestock were recording entries for sale and buying orders by faxing, scanning and emailing bits of paper to the office, requiring managers to piece together details of stick numbers and breeds, then match them to the correct customer account. It’s the way things had been done for some time - but it was slow and inefficient. That’s when a plan was hatched.
“Our agents in the field already have iPhones,” says IT manager Mike Shaw. “Tabral showed how we could start building apps to capture bookings and create accurate records, rather than relying on agents to ring the office or send text messages.” The first app was an auction booking app called Booking In. This led to more solutions to capture expenses for Fringe Benefit Tax and process annual leave applications, record livestock details to meat processing company records that can match dispatch records, and more.
“Our apps are running really smoothly in the field,” says Shaw.
“There was no pushback from users, which is a good sign. They really like the simplicity of an app on their iPhone that eliminates the need to file paperwork or make a call. They can focus on providing good service to the farmer, while our team back at the office have everything they need.” The quick, reliable capture of essential business data has meant no lag between initial transactions and having them allocated to the correct customer account - massively increasing speed and efficiency.
What are the challenges of going digital using mobile devices?
We’ve covered the advantages of going mobile for digital transformation. But there are challenges that need to be addressed to get it right the first time.
Challenge 1: Quantity Of activity over results focused activity
For one, there’s technology dependence. This can sometimes backfire. Take what happened to GE. In 2011, the huge, multinational company built an Internet of Things (IoT) platform, adding sensors to products and launched GE Digital. The idea was to use data to transform GE into a technological powerhouse. But it backfired - despite investing billions into GE Digital and having a workforce of thousands, there was a lack of strategic focus. From reports, it appears they tried to do everything all at once, and never got enough actually done. The company’s shares plummeted and other products were impacted. GE Digital got caught up in the pressure of reporting to shareholders, prioritising short-term goals and earnings over true, long-term transformation. The lack of real strategic focus and an emphasis on quantity over quality resulted in the CEO being forced out.
Challenge 2: Integrating with the whole business
The car company Ford is another example. When they created Ford Smart Mobility, the plan was to build “smarter” cars that were digitally enabled and had enhanced mobility. But they didn’t integrate this new business unit very well into the rest of the company, it was structurally and physically separate to the rest of the company rather than embedded into everyday work. You can’t transform in a silo - and the huge amount of money they invested wasn’t enough to save the company’s stock from plummeting when other areas of the business weakened. Learn the key takeaway: it’s crucial to merge digital transformation with the entire company. In this instance, digital transformation isn’t so much a complete overhaul as it is an entry into a fresh business sector. To thrive, digital transformation must be assimilated into the organisation.
Challenge 3: Vendor Dependence On Connectivity And Security
There’s also dependence on networks and the cloud. While technology has made the storage, backup and distribution of data much easier, it has also come with the cost of hacking and data breaches - we all know how costly and serious those can be. Also, what happens when there is no connectivity?
Data safety needs to be considered as well. Mobile Device Management - better known as “MDM” - products can help manage devices used by your organisation. Unique passwords, policies around usage (such as if the device’s security settings allow an unsecured network like public WiFi - where strangers can potentially access sensitive information - to be used), and locking devices when not in use are a few things you can do to keep your data safe and secure.
It’s also important to plan for how to manage any issues that might lead to communication breakdowns, disruptions, or delays - that way, when issues like power outages or natural disasters strike, you’ll be prepared and have a plan to minimise disruption to your operations.
Challenge 4: Resourcing for change management
Lastly, there’s time and capacity to think about. Going digital takes up time from other operational imperatives you might have. It’s not a part-time activity - but the sooner you can successfully make the transition to digital, the sooner your organisation will reap the benefits. A great example of this can be taken from the trucking industry. Traditional trucking companies have historically been slow to adopt innovative technologies. However, the pandemic and increased competition from larger companies has pushed them to update their operations through digital transformation. This included the implementation of sophisticated route planning systems and fleet management software. By embracing digitization, trucking companies have been able to improve integration, productivity, and asset utilisation.
How do you measure mobile digital value?
There are three main ways to measure mobile digital value:
- Create a User Profile and select a payment option that fits their usage.
A user profile can measure how often someone uses a technology: hourly, daily, weekly - almost any time frame you want information about. Many software technologies offer a fixed rate per user - in other words, each user costs the same amount, regardless of how often they actually use the technology (so someone who uses a technology once per week costs the same as someone who uses it dozens of times per week). To save money - usually about 50% - you can bundle all users into a “variable” package, which combines their usage and charges per task, instead of per user. A “hybrid” option combines usage and per user charges - this can also save money. You can contact us to discuss pricing options and which option might work best for you and your organisation.
- Assess The ROI from multiple apps
The more processes digitised, the greater your ROI might be - depending on how much usage and how you’re being charged (again, if it’s per user, by usage, or a hybrid model).
- Measure Usage Pattern Changes In Business
An important thing to consider is if the technology you’re using increases the staff’s ability to do more - and do better. If this is the case, then it’s simple proof of the benefits of digitisation.
A good way to think of measuring mobile digital value is this way:
User + admin time saved + less travel costs/time + extra jobs minus the cost of devices and usage
Put another way, first add up the benefits: both user and admin time saved, less travel, and more work done (extra jobs). Then subtract the cost of devices and usage. This gives you a good indication of the value you’re getting from mobile and digitisation.
Digital transformation In Civil Construction
TDM Construction was able to use mobile data to remove an enormous burden: the sheer amount of admin required to know what jobs have been, where, and by who. Before 2018, the company had a paper-based system that involved drivers filling out a docket every time they took a load on board.
With up to nine different loads for three different clients carried by just one driver per day, staying on top of everything was a difficult, time-consuming and expensive process - especially since all the dockets had to be manually entered into spreadsheets at TDM’s head office. TDM’s Marc Black ended up talking to a Tabral affiliate who used the Tabral platform to build an app that could replace the paper dockets. The results were nothing short of extraordinary: what previously took several days - from recording the data to having it entered into spreadsheets - could be done almost instantly, with the information shared across the entire business. Drivers could fill in all the required information using their phones.
“Mum used to spend six or seven hours on data entry every week, and now she only needs an hour or so,” says Black. “Instead of manually entering every detail of every job, she just needs to check the information provided by the app.” He adds: “Nothing dragged on, and we’ve saved a lot of time. We’ll definitely be creating more apps.”
Who should lead your digital project?
As we all know, leadership can make or break any initiative, no matter what it is. The CEO is ultimately the only one who can shape and guide a successful digital transformation. But they can delegate. Having change agents can help set the tone for digital transformation, creating an example for others to follow and emphasising the importance of making the change while also being a supportive, steadying hand for the rest of the organisation. These change agents can theoretically be anyone, but they need to:
- have a belief in the project
- be able to take feedback
- be able to adapt the plan. These three attributes are non negotiable.
A prominent example of an organisation embracing digital - and success coming from innovation - is SGS which is one of the world’s largest inspection, testing and certification companies, working in fields as diverse as agriculture and manufacturing.
They got rid of the forms used in their inspections and replaced them with Tabral’s mobile app platform, which drastically reduced the time and cost associated as well as the possibility of transcription or other human errors. That’s not all. The company has also used Tabral to create an incident reporting tool that helps keep their staff safer in real-time.
As English writer, consultant, and researcher specialising in innovation strategy, leadership and culture Max McKeown has said, “adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.”
In other words, adapting to a changing business environment isn’t just about keeping up with the changes - it’s about getting ahead of them to become a trusted leader in whatever field you’re in.
As Charles Darwin has also said, “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
If going digital can help your organisation become more efficient and save money, then Tabral can help. Get in touch with us today - helping organisations do things better is what we’re passionate about.