A complete look at digital transformation: Part 2: Software, marketing, and business AI
Welcome back to the second half of our complete look at the digital transformation. What can seem like an enormous leap for a small business still dealing with physical paperwork is actually a natural progression from digitising to easily keeping up with the latest business tech trends. Last time we talked about the basic of the digital transformation including digital documents, building a website and app, business software, inbound marketing, and network security. Today we’re going to talk about what happens after you’ve caught up with the tech startups and business really gets going.
The Intermediate Phase
Detailed Website Analysis
The second phase of the digital transformation process happens naturally. After a business joins the online community and updates to modern software solutions to things like paperwork, contacts, and logistics, efficiency almost universally picks up. Automation and streamlining through software features are the main contributors. As the tedious and slow tasks are offloaded onto computers, teams start to think about how to improve and that requires analysis.
The first kind of analysis most small businesses who have recently digitised get into is website traffic analysis. There are a variety of free and paid services that will give you a basic dashboard on how many people have visited your website, how long they stayed, and where those clicks came from. As you start to derive useful information from this data, your company will seek more detailed analysis, dashboards, and tools to implement improvements.
Beginning to analyse your website and online marketing results with analysis software is one of the markers of a business entering the intermediate phase of the digital transformation. Rather than doing what is necessary to update, you’re more likely to be led by opportunism to continue improving your business practices and growing your online audience.
Integrated Industry Business Software
If your primary interest is in improving your business’ efficiency and quality of service, it’s time to start thinking about new business software. While most businesses get started picking one or two pieces of purpose-built software to integrate and get used to, in reality, there are so many pieces of custom built B2B software that you probably have your pick of at least three or four built to do everything a business in your industry needs.
Every business has a specific collection of tasks involved in the industry. Most businesses, for example, have customers whether they’re consumers or other businesses, making CRM features almost universal, as are DMS’s, billing and invoice features and inventory management. The latest trend is to get software that connects your CRM to live chat and marketing automation software, but we’ll get to that in the next section.
Inbound Marketing – Social Media and Video
Once you get the hang of inbound marketing on the blog level, you’ll be ready to start building a social media following. Most companies start with one or two of the top five platforms or a smaller niche platform if it suits their market perfectly. Social media marketing centres around presenting a fun, entertaining, and discussion-starting brand personality. Remember that social media is where people go to socialise away from the structures of work and school. Many people who fit into your target audience and are real humans at a keyboard don’t even go by their real names online and use cartoons for pictures. This is out of an overwhelming desire to keep interactions fun, casual, and human rather than corporate or robotic. To this end, your social media campaign needs to come across more as a friendly conversation than a traditional ad campaign.
Social media marketing can include a wide variety of conversation and asset types. You want to provide your growing online community with a variety of content, pictures, videos, and links that relate to both their interests and your business. Your content can be anything from employee quotes and company updates to quizzes and competitions to engage the community. Social media groups respond very strongly to interesting images and funny or instructional videos. In fact, video is so popular that it has developed a sub-category of marketing called social video.
Social Media Community Managers
Social media marketing is usually led by one person, a social media community manager, who can work alone or as the leader of a team. Their job is to find interesting and entertaining content to post that simultaneously builds your brand image and draws in a larger online audience. Because social media posts are best done once to five times a day, this can add up to a lot of content and, ideally, scheduling automation so that dozens of posts can be prepared at once and fired at the right times throughout the week. This is one of the first forms of automated marketing and a sign that your company is probably ready to move on to the advanced phase of the digital transformation.
Advanced Digital Transformation
Speaking of automated marketing, the art of marketing is seen as dynamic and fast-paced but what people haven’t seen in the past are the hours of addressing postcards and copy-pasting slightly personalised emails. Few industries have taken to automation more enthusiastically than marketers. They were automating email campaigns back when everyone else was figuring out how to build a website so it’s no surprise that automated marketing (also called marketing automation) is one of the most advanced forms of software available today. Nor that companies who have successfully become digital entities eventually start automated marketing campaigns.
Automated marketing is exactly what it sounds like, the ability to use computer programs to run large portions of your marketing campaigns. The best part is that computers can handle much more detailed tasks than they used to, allowing marketers to combine their intuition and computer thoroughness to generate and post unique social media content and to send personalised messages to customers and leads. This is why to connect your CRM to your automated marketing, by the way.
Where social media automated marketing is about mixing content and scheduling posts, email (and still some snail-mail) automated marketing allows for greater personalisation than ever before. With modern analytics software, your automated marketing can use the customer’s favourite colour, change the subject line to appeal to them, and include special offers on items it knows they like.
Advanced Business Analytics
The business side of marketing automation is even more analytics. Really, the thirst for ever more data and software to crunch the numbers into usable statistics never stops for most businesses. Of course, you want to know how long a customer watches your video, where their mouse hovers on the screen when they browse your website, and exactly which social media content got the most likes, shares, and replies. This gives you the opportunities to subtly tweak your content, improve your videos, and smooth out your website design to perfect the conversion funnel.
On the flip side of that, you can also use analytics software on your own internal practices. Start measuring the efficiency of your budget use, how much power you’re using, how quickly projects are completed, and how safe your work environment is. Advanced business analytics software can help you make decisions about issues that weren’t highlighted until thousands of data points were processed by a computer and a pattern was recognised. This takes us naturally to the next point about bringing AI into your business.
Artificial intelligence is quickly becoming an integral part of modern business, but not in the way everyone thought it would. Rather than robot coworkers or conversational programs. AI is being put to use most effectively in the background of analytics software. Many of the capabilities we’ve been discussing have been made possible within the last decade by integration of self-learning and constantly improving AI programs. What this means is that the software can teach itself to get better at the job through repetition and refinement. The more data it has, the more accurate it can be.
As a business becomes almost entirely focused on and supported by computer technology, the cloud, and online communities, it will also begin generating enough data points to require a massive amount of calculation. Most computer programs are impressive but the fastest way to crunch the numbers and get useful information at the end is with self-learning software also known as artificial intelligence. The simulated intuition allows it to quickly identify trends and make smart suggestions that follow that trend.
IoT Devices and Smart ‘Home’ Integration
The final phase of the digital transformation is, in fact, trend-chasing. When your company is run on cutting-edge software assisted by artificial intelligence and a great deal of automation augmenting the abilities of your team, the only thing left is to stay cutting edge and try to invent something that will set the next trend. Along those lines, the current hot new thing that is surprisingly useful in the business environment is the Internet of Things, also known as IoT and Smart Devices. The premise is that absolutely everything from light bulbs to egg cartons can be wifi-connected, controllable with a mobile app, and accessible through smart home voice commands.
Voice automation alone is incredibly useful for businesses but, quite frankly, the ability dynamically, remotely, and programmatically control the lights, devices, and appliances in your workplace are equally beneficial. If you’re looking for the next latest thing to integrate, consider trying out a smart home hub and few multi-coloured smart LED lights. Businesses across the globe have found themselves fascinated by IoT devices and wind up with a collection including wifi security cameras, video doorbells, smart coffee machines, and even the occasional smart fishtank.
The digital transformation is one that never really stops because innovation is constant. The goal is to catch up with the rest of the digital business community with a smooth website, a mobile app with smart home skills, an entertaining blog, a strong social media presence, and a great deal of automated analysis and marketing. For more in-depth information on digital transformation, download our guide here: