The business world has been talking about digital transformation for a long time , but nothing has forced the necessity for companies to focus on it like the physical-digital divide brought about by Covid-19. Coronavirus has accelerated the need for businesses to rethink both how they operate and how they deliver valuable experiences to customers, now more than ever, remotely and via screen.
While the term may be digital transformation, at its core, the shift is really less about technology and more about the people it will affect — namely, your customers and your employees. Because the only technology that really matters is technology that serves human needs in some way. This is where no-code comes in.
We’ll explain how no-code development can support digital transformation, but first, let’s clear up any misunderstandings of what digital transformation really means.
Like most other corporate jargon that gains buzzword status, the phrase "digital transformation" has taken on a life of its own conversationally, but it’s generally defined as businesses adopting the latest and greatest technology and software so they can keep up with consumer demand and stay ahead of the competition (e.g. make it better, do it faster). That’s partly true, but in successful transformation initiatives, the tech is really just the means to the transformation, not the end goal. So inits broadest sense, digital transformation is about optimizing the way a business works to improve the customer experience, and then using technology to accomplish it.
There needs to be strategic purpose when leveraging new and emerging digital technologies. The problem is that many business leaders are so drawn to the notion of shiny new technology that they lose focus of what that technology is supposed to help them achieve (you might have heard people talk about this as “tech for tech’s sake”). So rather than focusing on tech, transformations should start by focusing on specific business objectives.
This brings up another common misnomer: that a digital transformation is one big, massive overhaul of all a company’s systems. Nope. At its best, it's an ongoing process of looking at the different areas of your business and taking on different initiatives to enhance organizational performance and better meet the needs of your customers. This can include everything from migrating to cloud storage for more efficient file management and enhanced collaboration, to implementing AI and machine learning to better understand customers and create a more personalized experience.
While technology provides the means to digital transformation, success is ultimately in the hands of the people who have to work with it. All too often IT groups select tools that are too complicated to intuitively implement, or execs change processes without getting the input of staff or taking into account what really works and what doesn't day to day.
A recent McKinsey survey supports this thought, showing that one of the key factors for success in digital transformation is empowering people to work in new ways including “giving employees a say on where digitization could and should be adopted,” and “encouraging employees to challenge old ways of working … to experiment with new ideas — for example, through rapid prototyping and allowing employees to learn from their failures.”
The main thrust of the no-code movement is to give people who aren’t technical experts the ability to solve complex business problems, control their marketing assets, run their HR departments, explore new ways of working, and on and on, without having the specialist expertise to code, without becoming a full-fledged animator, getting law degree or having a 20-year career in project management (to name just a few things). People often talk about this all in terms of “democratizing IT.”
At Edgar Allan, we embrace this philosophy and the tools that support it for a couple of reasons: First, building websites in a no-code tool like Webflow (the gold standard in responsive design) allows us to create in such a way that our clients can have real ownership of the project after delivery — the ability to easily update content, rearrange or duplicate sections, and generally make changes over time.
Secondly, the appeal is also about freedom and control: When it comes to digital transformation, the ease of use of no-code tools and platforms allow individuals or small teams to experiment, prototype, and develop custom solutions that function the way they want, instead of having to rely on IT professionals, hoping that person is able to translate their need into technology the way they intended — that is, once the IT department gets through their backlog of other work...
Speed and flexibility are additional key benefits of no-code tools and platforms. These are “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) programs, and users can create and customize through visual modeling, dragging-and-dropping components based on their needs and moving from idea to solution significantly faster than the time-intensive process of manual code-based development.
The world is changing quickly after all, and the ability for businesses to adapt just a swiftly is crucial for success. We all witnessed this when seemingly overnight, companies around the world had to figure out how to operate fully remotely, when schools had to go virtual at the drop of a hat, and everyone had to fumble around sussing out how to serve customers virtually.
While the coronavirus may have forced your organization's digital transformation efforts into overdrive, as you continue your journey, remember that what’s important isn’t just what you transform, but the why and the how behind it. And that whatever you do, people should be at the center of it all.