Digital transformation can be a daunting prospect. Most businesses recognise the need to modernise their IT services, but old habits often die hard. Deploying new software can mean a lengthy onboarding process, as staff get used to the changes, and figure out how to use the software to create new efficiencies.
Adopting new software will always be a hurdle, but it needn’t be complicated or risky. By choosing the right software – and adopting it in the right way – you can minimise the amount of learning required, and create a smooth transition between old ways of working and new, more efficient practices.
Why you need a digital transformation
Many businesses operate on a simple mantra: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This works for some aspects of a business, but it shouldn’t mean that the things that appear to be working shouldn’t be up for review. While it can be tempting to leave the things that seem to be fine to address the things that aren’t, no aspect of your business should be free from scrutiny.
This is particularly true when it comes to your digital presence. You may have a functioning website, a social media presence and an eCommerce or booking system, and think that because they work, there’s nothing to worry about. And you may be right – but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check. Technology moves fast, and you could find that your digital services become outdated.
Your website may be accessible, but if it was designed for an older Web browser, it might not display correctly. It could be difficult to navigate, or simply look dated next to your competitors’ sites. Similarly, the hardware and software you use may work, but it may be slower than it needs to be, or lack features that other businesses are taking advantage of. All of these small inefficiencies and imperfections can cost you time and customers.
A digital transformation is an opportunity to audit your business, and upgrade your digital presence. It’s a chance to assess your online services and internal IT, and ensure that everything is secure, up-to-date, and fulfilling the expectations of yourself, your staff and your customers. Most businesses rely on the internet to drive sales and on software to complete their work, and if you aren’t as efficient as you could be, it provides a window of opportunity for your competitors.
Software to transform your business
While there’s a myriad of different software options out there for businesses, not every choice is going to be transformative. The following options won’t be for everyone, but they all offer a range of benefits, particularly when it comes to centralisation, communication and organising your work.
Perhaps the most common and easily understandable option on this list, Microsoft 365 combines many of the productivity tools you’ll be familiar with into one powerful, cloud-based software suite. 365 includes Office apps such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as tools such as Outlook, file storage with OneDrive, and communication software like Teams. At higher subscription tiers, you can also benefit from advanced security tools, and even automatic device management.
Like most modern software, Microsoft 365 is a cloud-based solution. This means that the software runs from a web app on desktop, ensuring that it is always up-to-date without you needing to install patches. Files are also easier to organise and share thanks to OneDrive’s centralised storage, and staff can even collaborate on files together, seeing changes in real time. With the ability to log in and access files from anywhere (subject to security controls), 365 is ideal for a modern office with a mixture of present and remote workers.
Microsoft 365 covers most of Microsoft’s most popular software, but it isn’t all that the company offers. When it comes to networking and communication across sites or remote working employees, there are few better options than SharePoint. SharePoint allows you to set up a company intranet, except it’s accessible online rather than just on local computers. This intranet can contain multiple ‘sites’, each allowing users to read company news, employee handbooks, download files, and communicate and collaborate with each other.
Ideal for larger companies, SharePoint is a great way to create a siloed intranet for different teams or departments within a business. Each site you create can host almost anything you can think of, from a wiki or knowledge base, to social networking using Yammer, to rich databases of product information. Another cloud-based app, SharePoint is a highly accessible way not just to organise employees and provide them with relevant information, but to create points of reference for training, collaboration and communication.
Project management is hugely important, particularly for smaller businesses. Without a clearly defined management structure, keeping on top of your targets and deliverables can be a challenge, with employees often juggling multiple accounts. While there are numerous time and project management software options out there, Asana is among the most respected and the most adaptable across businesses – and has a powerful free version for you to try out.
A multi-faceted software platform, Asana provides a wealth of options to build plans and track tasks across various departments and sectors, from marketing to sales to operations. A combination of workflows, timelines, boards and a single, shared calendar allow you to plan projects in a visually appealing and easily digestible format, and track these with real-time reporting and strategic goals. Forms allow you to submit and track requests for clients, while automation and custom rules reduce bottlenecks by automatically completing basic tasks.
Just investing in software isn’t going to revolutionise your business, but it is an important first step towards a digital transformation. By learning and embracing certain tools – particularly cloud-based software like the options above – you’ll not only open up new ways of working, but improve productivity for employees across different locations, enhance communication, and keep your data more organised.
Sota is one of the UK’s leading independent IT companies, providing professional IT support in Kent, cloud computing, cyber resilience, connectivity, and unified communications. Having worked with countless businesses over the years, they are experts in their field, ready to advise and offer tailored solutions for each and every company.