Digital transformation continues to be a marketing buzzphrase in 2021, and for good reason. Survey data shows that a whopping 70% of businesses chose to step up or maintain their spending on digital transformation during the pandemic. Fifty-eight percent of businesses that hadn’t yet launched a transformation initiative said that Covid-19 has accelerated their plans. But as marketers hurry to check the digital transformation box, it pays to ask, what does digital transformation actually entail?
Digital transformation takes place when a business adopts digital technology to replace physical or manual processes with digital ones. You know the drill: it’s when Netflix goes from shipping DVDs to delivering movies magically through the internet. It’s when Microsoft realizes that they need to get with the cloud-based program or consider themselves dead in the water. It’s Walmart spending $3.3 billion on Jet.com to bring their e-commerce capabilities into the modern era.
Digital transformation requires big, bold moves, and companies that hadn’t started this process prior to the pandemic are feeling the heat. Fortunately, there are some easy steps for getting started with digital transformation, whether you’re a brick-and-mortar retailer or an e-commerce brand that is relying on older technology.
One of the most important vehicles for feedback in the modern era is social media. Globally, over 3.6 billion people use social media today, and that number is expected to increase to 4.41 billion by 2025. When 4.41 billion people can give you real-time feedback on your transformation, it makes for a faster, better evolution. And the companies building the technology? They know that, too.
Take 10Pearls, for example. 10Pearls is a global provider of digital transformation services, with a focus on the technology behind those transformations.
“It starts with the customer,” said Imran Aftab, the company’s cofounder and CEO. “When we are able to access customer feedback in real time through social media, we are able to build things that better meet the needs of consumers. Technology provides us with the data. Social media provides us with unique insights. Together, they are unstoppable.”
When searching for a strategic acquisition to add to their portfolio, 10Pearls specifically sought out a social media agency. The company just completed their acquisition of Likeable Media, an agency that specializes in social-first digital marketing, bringing them to 750 employees total across the globe.
When I spoke to Likeable Media’s Cofounder and CEO Carrie Kerpen about digital transformation, she said, “We spend every waking hour on social media sites, and much of the time, we’re just listening. We know what is needed to remain agile with respect to competition and market changes. To use those learnings and translate them into user-friendly technology for businesses will ultimately lead to more successful digital transformations.”
You don’t have to be a tech company, or even a social media agency, to use social media to help digitally transform your business. “You can start by entering keywords that your customers might be using into a Twitter search and just listen,” Kerpen says.
From there, expand your efforts. “You can ask your employees to be your online advocates, or you can reach out to influential customers and have them be brand ambassadors for you,” Kerpen suggests. “If you’re not yet ready to overhaul your company’s digital infrastructure, tap into people who are good at sharing and selling stuff on the internet. It’s a great place to start.”
Committing to digital transformation can feel like an overwhelming and scary undertaking. But there are few initiatives that will yield more results than a seamless digital experience. As you look to expand upon your digital transformation efforts, make sure you are always listening, always pinpointing what you want to achieve and always moving forward.