Forms are sweeping the digital transformation world. In almost every industry and sector and in companies of all sizes, buzzwords like “modernization” and “transformation” echo from the C-Suite, to the warehouse, to the satellite office, and back again. But understanding digital transformation is a lot like asking “what is music?” The answer is complex and full of nuance. What is right for one organization, is likely to be completely different than what is right for another.
So, let’s start with a general agreement about what digital transformation actually is. Digital transformation is a rethinking of how businesses and their employees interact with and utilize technology to achieve business goals. Digital transformation is not only about technology; however, a true digital transformation is also about people and processes, along with software and data.
Information and Data at the Center of Business
Most commonly, digital transformation includes the introduction or expansion of certain technologies, and the reorienting or retraining of a workforce to take advantage of these changes. Many people think of the introduction of artificial intelligence, machine learning, or the cloud as the cornerstones of their digital transformation
These shifts are a response to an undeniable truth: information is the new currency of business, and in an increasingly digital economy, the value of information is hard to understate. Leading businesses of all sizes are increasingly data-driven, making decisions and allocating resources in response to what data is telling them. Collecting data, analyzing it, and leveraging the learnings to improve relationships with broader markets and individual customers alike are table stakes to remaining competitive.
With the undeniable power of data in today’s business environment, it is important to understand that all data has value. Furthermore, it is important to understand that there are many different ways to collect useful and powerful data. Million-dollar ERP systems and complex RPA integrations may be more readily known signs of digital transformation, but a number of simpler, less expensive tools can play a significant role as well. One such tool? Forms.
All Data Is Good Data
From the outside, forms are basic. That external simplicity makes them look less-powerful or less impactful than sexier toolsets like natural language processors or analytics software. However, the power of forms is on par with the more well-known, more complex-looking systems that receive the most attention.
Forms serve one core purpose: collecting information. That means the function of forms aligns with the center of the business universe. Forms allow for data to be collected and collated in standardized, repeatable, and direct ways. This data can come in the form of reviews or testimonials as easily as it can come in the form of lead generation and support requests.
By leveraging forms, customers and potential customers can provide the information that businesses count on in today’s environment. Furthermore, form data allows for an apples-to-apples comparison in a way that processed, sanitized, and manipulated data does not always provide.
A Different Way to See Forms
For the longest time, forms were thought to be simple input fields placed on a website. And even now, some of the largest companies in the world continue to utilize forms on their front-of-site for customer contacts and feedback.
But such a point of view drastically undervalues the utility of forms. Forms are no longer simply to be placed on a website. In fact, forms have always been capable of so much more. Forms can be used in emails. Forms can be placed in social media posts like those found on Twitter and LinkedIn. Forms can be used at events to collect attendee information in real-time and as events are happening. In fact, once you start thinking of all the places, both physical and virtual, where information can be collected, it is crystal clear how useful forms can be.
Forms and Your Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is a process, not an end state. As such, different tools and considerations are worth implementing along the journey. If your digital transformation does not yet include the use of forms, now is the time to widen your gaze.
Our recommendation is to consider the desired end state and work backward from there. Here are three end states that, upon consideration, can bring the power of forms into your digital transformation.
Collecting information to confirm your present state
Forms provide a powerful and simple way to collect, collate and – most importantly – understand the state of your business in the market and in the eyes of customers and clients. Forms can be used to gather product reviews, feedback on service and support, and even competitor information.
You cannot know where to go or what to do next without an accurate understanding of where you are. All too often companies fail to take an accurate account of the status quo. People and internal resources take for granted that they have the full picture of the present state of the business. Forms can bring clarity to a business so that accurate forecasting and planning can start to take place.
Analyzing data to inform new decisions
Forms can also collect data that can inform decisions across the organization. It is easy to envision a marketing department allocating ad spend or event locations based on the information gathered by forms. Taken a step further, forms can collect information useful to human resources when it comes to hiring, information useful to R&D when prioritizing new features, and information useful to operations when allocating capital.
If the most critical piece of digital information is the data it produces, then the most critical use of that data is guiding future decisions. Forms provide a direct way to collect this information in a structured manner that is easy to process. Instead of leaning on machine learning or artificial intelligence, oftentimes it is easier to inform decisions with the data collected by forms.
Leveraging information to create interactions with customers
Every business is ultimately built on relationships with customers. Positive relationships mean growth and stability. Difficult or negative customer relationships? Stagnation. Attrition. Negative growth. For all of the things business owners and operators focus on each day, the customer is key to all of what is ultimately important and meaningful.
Forms give businesses a direct line to gathering feedback and input from customers. This feedback and input not only helps guide future customer-centric decisions but also helps a business understand their customers right now. From support tickets to product feedback forms to public-facing reviews, forms create a wealth of valuable feedback for a business to better understand its most valuable asset: customers.
Now is the Time to Leverage Forms
If your business is in the midst of digital transformation or looking to get started with your own modernization plan, forms can be a straightforward and simple-to-implement way to start collecting the data you need. While other tools certainly have their place in modern business, forms should not be overlooked. Forms collect data and provide it in a structured format that reminds us how simplicity doesn’t have to mean basic.
Our team at Bet Hannon Business Websites specializes in helping businesses and enterprises get the most out of their digital investments. One of our specialties is leveraging the power of forms. The pace and priority of digital transformation too often require complex and expensive systems when straightforward tools can provide great benefit. If your organization is interested in learning how proven tools like forms can drive your business forward, we would love the opportunity to learn about your goals. As a boutique digital agency focused on providing high-leverage solutions to growing businesses, our expertise and experience may well be exactly what you are looking for.