Test the waters before setting sail with digital transformation

Test the waters before setting sail with digital transformation


Three key building blocks to achieving successful digital transformation

Digital transformation can be a risky and expensive endeavour, and not all attempts succeed. In fact, only 20% of companies achieve more than three-quarters of the revenue gains they anticipated before embarking on such projects. It’s a harsh reality but when rewiring an organisation, with the goal to create value by continuously deploying tech at scale, it’s a risk many businesses face. 

Yet, continuous digital transformation must remain an existential priority for businesses across the globe, in order to keep pace with customer expectations, sustain competitor advantage and attract and retain top talent amid an evolving technological landscape. 

It seems, therefore, that organisations face a double bind – either risk failed digital transformation and incur substantial financial losses by doing so or fall behind competitors that embrace technological advancement. 

However, this black-and-white dilemma is a false narrative. While digital transformation is undoubtedly a significant undertaking, it shouldn’t be bound for failure – quite the opposite. Any transformation must be carefully planned, with very specific goals in mind. 

In its 80 years of experience in supporting partners on this journey, Ricoh has identified these three key building blocks to ensure success: 

1. Don’t shy away from calling out the problem(s) 

Digital transformation projects are often pitched as a “silver-bullet” solution. However, such blanket fixes fail to fully consider the complexity of each specific element of a business stream, or workflow, that needs modernising. 

Instead, the issues at stake and in need of resolution should first be pin-pointed and examined before the challenge is considered as part of a wider transformation. This process should involve leveraging data analytics and metrics as well as engaging stakeholders from across the organisation, from frontline workers to senior executives, to gather diverse perspectives and insights. By involving those who are directly impacted by existing challenges, businesses can gain a comprehensive understanding of their pain points and uncover hidden opportunities for improvement. After gathering and analysing all insights, the plan and priorities can be then established. 

2. Slow and steady wins the race 

Very few – if any – issues addressed by digital transformation can be solved in one fell swoop. As such, businesses should take an incremental approach to rolling out technological solutions. 

It is often safer both economically and in terms of building employees’ trust in the process, to test the technology in one area before expanding into others. This gives workers the chance to understand the relevance of the technology, become accustomed to it, and see its benefits – making it far more likely that they remain positively engaged with the overall digital transformation process across the business. 

For example, Ricoh identified that many employees were bogged down with manual processing, obstructing its employees’ productivity and fulfilment. Instead of installing an entirely new automation system across its 200-country-wide business, Ricoh implemented Automation Anywhere’s Intelligent Automation Suite – this was compatible with its existing Oracle system. As users were already familiar with the established system, the automation solutions came as an enhancement, instead of an entirely new tech stack. All in all, this freed up employees’ time for more meaningful tasks, resulting in €1.09 million in savings and reduced operational time by 5.73K days.

3. Find a partner who practises what they preach 

A trusted, supportive digital partner is critical to successful digital transformation. Businesses should look to partners who aren’t afraid to recommend a considered approach as opposed to a ‘quick fix’. Additionally, businesses should look to those that ‘practice what they preach’; that is, partners that already incorporate the solutions that they are selling within their own business streams. Such ‘stress-testing’ is fundamental to Ricoh’s approach to digital transformation. For example, Ricoh implemented DocuWare across its own individual operating companies to create a standardised approach to purchasing activities. This avoided clients having to manually track and communicate with buyers, which risked incurring unforeseen costs. To put it simply, Ricoh tried and tested the solution prior to rolling it out to customers and could be confident in its positive impact. 

Creating a positive future 

The idea of ‘digital transformation’ should not bring with it a sense of foreboding, neither for businesses nor employees. In 2024, the familiar experience of struggling to adapt to new technology should be a thing of the past. Indeed, by testing the waters gradually, with the support of a practised partner, businesses no longer need to see such struggles as inevitable. Instead, digital transformation can really be the seamless experience that so many are promised and bring with it a wealth of benefits - the greatest of which is a place in the future. 

To find out more, please join me at the Digital Transformation Conference in London on May 9th.

Lisa Topliss

Lisa Topliss

Director Digital Workplace, Ricoh Europe

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