Written by Ant Ludlow on 6 minutes read

Digital transformation starts with design

From internal tools and processes to customer touchpoints, your digital transformation will only succeed if you treat it like one big design brief.

The context

We live in a world of interfaces. From Facebook and Uber in our personal lives to DocuSign and Trello in business these products have succeeded through employing intensive design processes, user feedback and data driven optimisation to achieve highly usable interfaces.

But so many digital projects in business, particularly within finance, still happen in a vacuum. Without acknowledgement that their business users are people, for whom the design bar has been significantly raised by these best-in-class products all around us.

“At Fathom we recognise that everything made by humans is designed. Unfortunately, in business lots of it isn’t created by designers.”

Fortunately times are changing, as many companies are realising that they need to embrace the modern world. From legacy systems of varying ages to purely functional experiences created by developers with a technology-first focus - these things are bad for business. If users are turned off, then one day the business might be.

They’ve heard the phrase “digital transformation” and they think they need it (we agree by the way). But what does it actually mean and how do you go about it?

The Agile Elephant definition

“Digital transformation is the process of shifting your organisation from a legacy approach to new ways of working and thinking using digital, social, mobile and emerging technologies. It involves a change in leadership, different thinking, the encouragement of innovation and new business models, incorporating digitisation of assets and an increased use of technology to improve the experience of your organisation’s employees, customers, suppliers, partners and stakeholders”.

Making it work

We have proven that enhancing a business’ workflows through design dramatically improves efficiency and adoption. It makes experiences more engaging, uncovers new insights and drives the business forward. Within finance this can lead to competitive advantage - making or saving money, managing risk and finding insights.

Unfortunately, many organisations misunderstand digital transformation. Merely adding more software to the mix, or adding digital layers to existing processes does not transform a company, it just adds to the noise.

Baby steps

The leading examples here are Apple, Google and Amazon. Widely admired for constantly transforming and optimising their interfaces, their brands, their products. Their experience, both internally for staff and externally for customers, is led by design and is always changing. It’s woven into the very fabric of their companies.

So whilst it’s nice to have the aspiration to change a company. How do you begin? How do you change mentality and process? How do you put design first, when enterprise software is the go to?

Some of the important qualities and principles that our successful clients share are:

Openness To be successful you will need to be open to change. Change to direction, understanding, process and behaviour. It will be challenging, but it will be worth it. An open mind is essential.

Human first design Adopt the customer stance. Putting the user first is often an alien concept to companies that have been used to build first, listen second. If you can answer and address the users needs and problems, your project has a greater chance of success.

Flexibility Moving businesses away from waterfall processes - UX and product development teams need to work Agile. It is the way you create successful software. Don’t make your supplier adhere to your process. Think differently.

Trust Whilst delivery is important, design and development need the breathing space to truly innovate. Sometimes that means taking a leap of faith with the supplier you have chosen. You chose them because they are good at what they do. Let them help.

We can help

At Fathom we are approached to create the kind of software that can change businesses. The kind of software that is incredibly hard to create within an organisation. We are approached because we are different to the companies we work for. We are focussed and nimble and we see things through a design lens.

Digital transformation does not happen over night. And it doesn’t need to. Taking the right steps is more important than taking lots of them. We’ve helped many clients on their transformational journey. We’ve even seen a few revolutionise industries.

If you’re thinking of transforming your business then get in touch, we’d love to help.

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