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Iot, AI, ML, VR, AR, blockchain, NFTs, Cloud, Voice, 3D... With the myriad of technology solutions nowadays - where do you start and how to choose the right digital transformation initiative for your brand 🤷?

Digital transformation initiatives are a big topic in fashion. Most fashion companies have signalled large investments in digitizing their value chain, their consumer offering as well as their B2B sales practices. From 3D design to digital selling in wholesale, the options in technology are endless. So endless, in fact, that it can become really hard to know what is right for your company and which technologies to prioritize. Experiments and Prove of Concepts are great, but if you’re serious about digitization, you will have to move from experimentation to full implementation at some point. 

So where to start?

Step 1: Start from the problem, not the technology to solve it.

Technology does its best work when it can solve a real problem. When innovation is moving so fast and new things come up almost every day, it can be tempting to start from technology. We often see that brands look to invest in technology for technology's sake, saying: "We need something with AI" or "What's our strategy for blockchain?". Unfortunately, that is not the way to go about it. 

You need to start from the business problem. What are you trying to solve? And what is the value that could come from solving this problem?  Based on this, assess which technology offers the best solution. Ideal software products are those that add real value to the people who will be using them. That’s the group you’re going to want to have onboard during your digital transformation journey. This will subsequently ensure value for the organization as a whole.

Step 2: Define your end-user.

Who will be the ones using the technology on a day-to-day basis? The decision to involve or not involve the end-user can make or break a digital initiative. It boils down to a simple choice: spend money on a long and tedious implementation or start generating more value from digitization, sooner! 

We’ve seen it happen that solutions might have great benefits for the organization - i.e. come with a great sales pitch and lots of promise of change - but when the rubber hits the road and the teams have to use the products, they end up disappointing. The products are not easy to adopt, the teams aren’t guided in how to best change their ways of working and the whole thing just becomes a bit of a mess.

This will most definitely slow down your digital initiative and might even hamper your ability to reap the benefits of digitization. Great software products are simple, easy to use, and make a noticeable difference to the user’s experience. Considering this will really help you drive the change and unlock value on all levels of your organization.

Step 3: Aim for standardization, not customization.  

The ability to offer customizations to your specific business needs might sound interesting at first. Maybe even tempting. Companies (especially in fashion?) can fall into the trap of thinking that their organizations are so unique - their internal processes so complex - that there isn't a technology product on the market that would suit their needs. But be aware! 

Complexity is inherent to any digital transformation, but it’s what you do with it that counts. Our advice: keep it simple. Customizations are not only costly to implement and maintain but they can negatively impact the long-term performance of a software product.   

The beauty of working with bought solutions is that you have the chance to streamline your operations based on best practices seen externally. In the end, the real value from digitization comes from leveraging technology to solve problems while also changing your business processes to best leverage the new tech. Whatever you do, try to avoid complexity at all costs.

Navigating the technology landscape isn’t only about the technology itself. It starts with knowing which problem to solve and for who. And then finding solutions that will help you do that in the best possible way.