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Transformation equals change, and as humans essentially are conservative many don't like change. Digital Transformation is maybe not always seen as something good? However, Digital Transformation is one of those expressions that businesses use, but are all companies Digital Transformation Ready? And what would it require to be Digital Transformation Ready?

By Editor Morten B. Reitoft

First of all, if you search for 'Digital Transformation,' you soon realize that there are as many opinions about what it is as there are search results. However, most have in common that Digital Transformation is about both technology and, more importantly, mindset.

I agree with that, and therefore it makes sense to talk about Digital Transformations Readiness.

Digital Transformation is about enabling "digital" in all company processes, and that, of course, implies that digital is 'good.' Good for companies equal revenue, profit, and improved processes (to generally improve shareholder value), but the human factor is sometimes forgotten. The human factor is both about the employees and customers.

Most of us have worked in companies where the management decided to implement new software solutions like ERP for example. I do not doubt that the companies investing in new software probably need new software. But software often influences the entire organization so much that the cost of doing this is stressed employees, customers who don't get their products on time, sometimes leading to terrible reporting, etc. Therefore, the 'cost' of changing the for example an ERP solution might be way more than the cost of the software and the implementation - quite often, I would say!

Often companies also "digitize" to save money, rather than focusing on the potentials of selling more services - and often, the cost is competition and loss of customers.

Digital Transformation is an extremely important aspect in today's business, but is it only about the company, the production, whatever software, and what these changes can deliver and optimize?

NO!

When I talk about Digital Transformation Readiness, it's as much about understanding the people, the companies, the stakeholders that already are maybe way beyond your company.

When I see companies in our industry do product marketing, use FMCG marketing tools, or even believe that marketing is 'just' about some films, SoMe, blog posts, podcasts, etc., I can't help think about how sad that is. How can a company selling equipment in the millions even consider marketing their services without apparently understanding the "Who" and the "why?"

In the past year, I have seen many "revealings" of equipment with a blanket thrown over the machine and then asking people to get back to see it when revealed. Sorry guys and girls, men and women - you are not selling cars! And when you see endless demonstrations of equipment from so-called experience centers and I wonder who cares? Or what about media bragging about conversions, number of attendees, and newsletter subscribers - measures that belonged in the industrial age - the age we are leaving - the age we believe we put behind us when becoming true digital natives?

In a true Digital Transformation, you need to talk to each of your customers and prospects in a new way, and the stress test is to sit in your car, call the reception of your company, pretend to be a prospect, and ask for information about the newest and latest!

Or send a request for information form on your companies website - see what happens, and if it works great - sometimes you will be surprised!

In a true Digital Transformation, your online presence will give your customers direct access to relevant information and people easily - and you know I am right since you all tell me that customers are well prepared when they reach out to you. They have used the Internet, their network, references, and organizations to give them at least some of the info they need. You also know that you almost never meet entirely strangers at tradeshows, so use the tradeshows to your advantage by identifying what value a tradeshow should offer your customer/prospect to convert him/her to a new customer!

Some vendors already know how to do this, and have changed their marketing into a combination of supporting the industry, offering learning/knowledge, and even more important engagement. Engage with your customers and understand their needs!

We make films (hopefully you know) and just a few years ago, films were seen as promotion and marketing only - it still is, but I have talked to several salespeople, CEO's and also a few people from marketing. Now films and marketing are also about showing who you work with and supporting their business.

The new normal is way more engaging and you have to plan for long-term relations and the more support you offer your customers to sell their products and services, the better your chance is getting the next order - I believe, or, actually, I am convinced!

PSPs and converters need to understand this even more, as your customers won't buy on price in the future (alone), but also on availability, responsiveness, and this is not because people don't care about prices, but because the future is on-demand. We've met quite a few PSPs in 2021 who understand this 100% - and my God this is interesting to see and learn from!

For Vendors - technology, of course, continues to be extremely interesting and exciting, but technology is, even more, a means to create value, and therefore you must understand your customer's needs even more.

For inspiration - and this is an old clip with Steve Jobs about why Xerox lost to the world (more or less). Steve Jobs talks about product over marketing, and you may be able to say the same about management. Do your management understand the printing industry, the PSPs, the needs from the market or are they merely good "managers"? I am convinced that excel guys can manage greatly, but they will focus on optimizing rather than focusing on innovation. Where do you think this will lead your company?

Is this really what Digital Transformation is about? It may be a sub-segment of the Digital Transformation, but we can look at other industries, and see and learn. At the recent CES 2022, Las Vegas - last week - Sony again showed a concept car, but this time they expect to bring it to market. Apple has been rumored to build a car for a long time, and if these two companies plan to deliver, they will have to offer exciting cars, but moreover, the business models need to be adapted for tomorrow's world! This, of course, applies to all companies. Also the companies in the printing industry, and the question is how good your company is at adapting. I have a philosophy that the new companies or the companies who deliver digital products and services are WAY more prepared for all the things mentioned above.

The 'legacy' companies who maybe sell 'iron' or 'products' may have considerably tough times ahead of them. I spoke to a friend the other day who mentioned that today many of the legacy companies have older staff, but also sell to older customers. Do you think these demographics, and how that works will continue forever?

But, of course, you can sit down and wait for your landline telephone to call in the next order. Of course!

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