I was fortunate to attend the Microsoft Ignite lock note on Digital Transformation presented by Microsoft’s Dona Sarkar last Friday, where she talked about not just having a board make key decisions in your company but empowering employees to put forth an innovative idea to improve their company.

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation, we have all heard of it but what is it? Dona Sarkar discussed a scenario of her friend “Jess” that works for a document annotation provider, Jess is not the CIO or CTO or Head of Marketing or Sales however she knows her product and wanted to help the company achieve its growth rates. The company had a great client base in the school system with teachers using the annotation software to annotate their students work and she thought it would be a good idea to use the same approach with the real estate industry. So Jess started a small experiment to collect information on teachers that wanted to buy a house and spoke with some teachers that were users of her software and their relevant Realtors.

Digital Transformation is not taking one or two big step changes but taking an idea and making it smarter, removing the manual or paper based obstacles and replacing them with a more streamlined and effective way.

Collect the information

Based on Jess’s scenario she was able to find one in five Realtors that she ran her “Experiment” on liked the product and would want to continue to use it. Now that she had tangible information on how a new market segment wanted to use the software, and what percentage of take up would be likely she was able to take that information to her board and position it. This community based approach allowed her to take a great product and open that up to a whole new market segment. Ultimately from there it would be up to the board to decide the best approach to market this but know they had a better understanding of their potential client base.

I was speaking with a client recently about a similar scenario where their Real Estate agents which sold house and land packages would have to print multiple versions of contracts which are often 100 pages or more then have their client sign the document after which they would then scan and upload the document to a file server only to have a new variation of the document required to be printed out all over again. This has a cost the client and Realtors time, Printer maintenance costs, storage costs and accessibility limitations.

Refine the change

I am still working through the most suitable option for my client but now I am changing my approach from B2B (Business to Business) to include B2C (Business to Consumer). In this case my client is the consumer and so is their client so the feedback from both parties would be required to ensure when we propose a final solution we have buy in from both of the relevant parties.

Do it

If you have a good idea, you have collected the information and you have refined it, then do it. Understand that the Digital Transformation is taking a lot of little steps but constantly moving forward, a year from now you can look back and see how much you have moved forward, review the effectiveness of the changes, have tangible insights on the value of your steps and then keep going as digital transformation is not a point solution but a platform for growth.