For this final post in my series on digital transformation, I’m going to look at another business-level benefit that decision makers need to consider. As mentioned at the outset of this series, digital transformation is a broad concept that requires focus to develop concrete strategies. Business needs and benefits provide that focus, and I’ve already addressed two—improving customer experience and improving workflows.
The third benefit of digital transformation is agility, not just internal, but also external with customers and partners. Agility is about responsiveness, and collaboration technologies have a central role to play in delivering agility in today’s digital workplace so companies can work faster, more efficiently, and more competitively. To illustrate, I’m going to cite two examples from Cresa, a RingCentral customer in the real estate segment. Cresa embraced digital transformation by deploying collaboration technology to become more agile.
Example #1: Make the business digitally enabled
Cresa’s CIO, David Nuss, cited digital enablement as a core strategic objective. Much of the real estate sector remains rooted in legacy technology, and most processes are still manual and paper based. For Cresa, digital transformation is about evolving to cloud-based technologies and taking a holistic view of the customer transaction lifecycle. As customers go digital, they expect the same from partners, and Cresa pursued this change to differentiate itself from its competition. Cresa’s digital transformation increased agility, which helps Cresa respond faster to customers in several ways.
One way was to migrate from paper and print-based media to digital documentation as much as possible, so using tools such as DocuSign for contracts and video for presentations compresses its communications and sales cycles. Adopting digital options was the first step, after which Cresa could refine workflows and work more efficiently with clients. Collaboration solutions make communications more efficient before and during meetings: Once digitized, all documents can be reviewed prior to a meeting and accessed during the meeting, and remote team members can be added to collaborate on the fly.
Digital applications and collaboration tools streamline workflows, and in a business where “time is their number one priority,” Cresa found that negotiations go more smoothly and contracts get finalized faster. Compared to the way things had been done for so long, digitally enabled agility helps Cresa stand out and take a leadership position in the market.
Example #2: Integrate and standardize
Another aspect of legacy environments is the patchwork of communications applications that evolves. Historically, each tool was deployed and used in a stand-alone fashion, such as PBX telephony, fax machines, email on the PC, video in the conference room, and messaging on smartphones. Today’s workflows are more integrated, and as such, Cresa recognized the value of replacing these tools with a unified communications solution. Previously, it had been using over 40 applications, making effective collaboration in the workplace difficult—especially when working with clients.
The value of this digital approach increases further when the communications applications integrate with hosted business platforms such as Salesforce.com or Microsoft 365. Now, when negotiating with clients, all the relevant data shows in a common interface, resulting in more fluid workflows. End users don’t have to switch screens or programs looking for information, and it’s easier to capture new data on the fly. Deals get done faster now, and Cresa’s team projects a more tech-savvy, professional image.
Taking this a step further, by deploying a cloud-based collaboration platform, IT can deliver a consistent user experience across all endpoints and network environments. This form of standardization is another agility driver, as 60% of Cresa’s advisor time is spent either working from home or remotely, usually at a client site. Again, by adopting a digital workstyle, end users can work and collaborate equally effectively across all endpoints—smartphones, tablets, and PCs—from almost anywhere.
Not only does that consistent UX make team-based collaboration easier, but it allows Cresa to deliver the same brand experience to new clients, regardless of which office is hosting a meeting or whether Cresa agents meet at the client’s site. This enables a new level of agility that allows Cresa to compete successfully against larger competitors, especially when going after larger deals.
Your digital takeaway
Without context, digital transformation is a big, vague idea, but the three business-level benefits addressed in this series should resonate now with both technology decision makers and end users. In Cresa’s case, agility was a strategic competitive priority, and digital transformation provided the pathway. With the digital foundation in place, Cresa was able to leverage the power of cloud-based collaboration, and that’s the value its CIO delivered with RingCentral. Not only do these tools enable end users to work more productively with clients, but this approach makes IT’s job more manageable compared to juggling a disparate mix of stand-alone communications applications.
As with other types of professional services businesses, success in real estate relies heavily on personal interactions and results-driven project teams. Collaboration is central to overall performance, and when viewed through the strategic lens of agility, the fit between Cresa and RingCentral is easy to appreciate.
Originally published Aug 16, 2017, updated Sep 28, 2020