Technology is changing our world, whether we like it or not, and whether we fully realize it or not. In our personal and business lives, it has impacted the way we experience the day to day, often in ways we not be aware of. We are becoming a digitally transformed society --in business and at home, and online and off.

Still, while organizations across all industries are acknowledging the importance of embracing technology in order to stave off disruption, many leaders are still hesitant to implement the necessary strategies and tools to act on digital transformation. This is likely out of confusion around the how and what of digital transformation, and misconceptions about what it entails.

But digital transformation isn't always about a complete overhaul or displacing the human touch with machines or artificial intelligence (AI). In many cases, it's simply about transforming the way your customer experience your website or online ordering process.

Transforming through micro changes

You don't have to become the next Google, Airbnb or Nest. Digital transformation doesn't always require you to give up what made your company great in first place.

Your business model may not have to change at all. In fact, you may already be on the path to transformation, or at the very least thinking about it, without even realizing it. If you're focused on driving initiatives that create better, more seamless experiences for your employees and your customers, and using technology and data to make decisions, you're moving toward transition.

Digital innovations don't have to be colossal. They can be approached at a micro level by segmenting it around specific aspects of your operational processes, such as your sales program, fulfillment and distribution, strategic thinking, etc.

The idea is to focus on streamlining one detail that will impact the whole of how you do business today. That might simply mean implementing a new customer management system (CMS) that enables your sales team to more effectively act on leads and engage with prospects.

A case study on transformation

We recently worked with a portable storage company to rebuild their website. On the surface, it was a website redesign project, but there was much more under the surface. It was digital transformation at its core.

Though the company had become a well-known brand and experienced tremendous growth and success, they had yet to make the leap to a more digital experience -- internally and externally. The company leaders recognized they were leaving opportunity on the table by not having a standardized system in place to collect and measure performance metrics or an easy way for their customers to engage with them through mobile. They also realized they needed to make the connection between their various services more intuitive through messaging and branding.

While our job was to help them improve in those areas by tangibly delivering a new website, what actually existed under the hood was a new site built on three key digital components that were directly responsible for impacting the overall business model. Our initiatives focused on driving a more seamless and embedded customer experience online and off, integrating a more efficient CMS for internal operations, and building a system to better utilize analytics data they were already collecting.

Applying familiar technology

In this end, through use of technology --technology most organizations are already familiar with -- we were able to improve end-to-end people, process and systems touch points. It didn't involve AI, machine learning, or innovating some new piece of technology. But digital transformation is more about streamlining or optimizing the experience or process in a way that drives new revenue or value to your organization.

Remember, something as unnoticable to consumers as a new CRM that makes customer management easier for employees counts. There's no benefit to rushing into a full-scale transformation by throwing technology at the problem without addressing the why and how behind it.

Your digital transformation might start by segmenting out various areas of your business and going to work on streamlining the processes and systems around those. Once the flywheel of that micro change starts spinning, you can move onto the next area. Ultimately you'll want to have a grand plan in place for how this all works together, but it doesn't have to all happen all at once.

If you don't view yourself as a "digital company," you may feel overwhelmed at the thought of digital transformation. Instead of feeling pressured to take an offline business completely online or innovate in the tech space, understand that you may already be transforming just by rethinking a few important things.

Published on: Oct 31, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.