The Digital Transformation Cookbook — Strategies That Work Like Hell
An organization’s decision to move forward with the implementation of digital transformation is an exciting venture. But, it’s not an easy task and there can be a level of discomfort that comes with stepping into the unknown. Today, I’m going to share with you my Digital Transformation Cookbook and the strategies that work.
Digital transformation is the promise of fewer silos and more collaboration, of faster growth and bigger revenue.
The modern businesses must constantly look for ways to better adapt and compete in today’s digital landscape, and the way enterprises are doing that is with a digital transformation strategy. Digital transformation enables enterprises to take advantage of the modern technologies that automate processes, improve customer experiences, increase operational agility and flexibility, and help employees become more productive.
Probably the biggest buzzword around at the moment, digital transformation is permeating every business, in every industry.
It’s unavoidable; digital technologies are changing the world in monumental ways and, as a result, organizations now have no choice but to embrace these technologies and evolve if they want to stand a chance of surviving the next few years.
As software is taking over the world, digitization is becoming a matter of survival.
To move toward a digital future, companies need to have a clear vision with an elaborate strategy for digital transformation. The sound strategy based on in-depth analysis can help predict possible risks, calculate the budget of such enhancement and ensure desired results. Unfortunately, most businesses start their digital journey without a useful plan.
When thinking about digital transformation, it may be daunting to define the steps and the overall business digitalization framework. To help you start smoothly, we’ve created useful guidelines for choosing the right direction for digital transformation and scaling it in the future.
Digital transformation produces all sorts of reactions — fear, skepticism, enthusiasm and optimism. It isn’t surprising that opinion within companies is so polarized! But whatever your opinion of it, the digital revolution is in full swing and shows no signs of slowing down. Let’s find out the strategies that work like hell to digitally transform your business!
What You See Is What You Get
Transformation initiatives, whether it’s about digital or business transformation, require you to rethink how your business creates outcomes — today and in the future. In other words, to really transform the way you’re doing business, you need to think big.
You will want to think on what you want to achieve and why you want to transform.
Be it because you need new innovations to keep and gain new customers, be it because you need to catch up with competitors, or to reduce the cost base to deliver higher margins. Consider long-term goals and concentrate more on the experience you want to create for your customers as well as employees.
Note that it’s crucial to come up with the global vision that addresses the future.
On the other hand, this vision should deal with reality. So, build your strategic vision on the short-term objectives and resources available to your business today. While focusing on your competitive advantage, identify gaps in the current structure and create implementation roadmaps to optimize it.
Before you embark on your transformation project, you should set quantifiable objectives and clarify your organization’s vision.
The main digital transformation goals are optimizing processes, creating connected teams, solving complex problems, and executing new ideas that create business value. What a digital transformation vision should look like will differ by company, but businesses need to identify it as the ultimate objective of any operational improvement.
A digital transformation that is not coordinated can put enterprises at risk of losing existing customers, eroding once lucrative markets.
Another common issue is that those in charge of digital transformation often have a big-picture view of the organization that may jar with what happens in reality daily. To avoid this situation, enterprises must plan, design and test from operations and customer perspective, building an understanding of where business value lies.
Never ever transform just for the sake of transformation. Make sure your initiative has a specific purpose.
You should identify at least the following: needs of your customers that you aim to meet, business processes that could be streamlined, expense items you could reduce, or competitors you want to beat. Or maybe the Blue Ocean shift you were thinking of for a long long time ago!
Know Where You Are
Once you know why you need to digitally transform, and what it will look like for your business, you need to take stock of what digital capabilities you currently possess. Examine your tech stack, your technologies and your employees; anything and everything that is used to make your business what it currently is should be considered.
Identify the gaps that need satisfying and the business objectives that need accomplishing to gain a clearer understanding of which market trends to look out for and which technologies to adopt.
It sounds simple, but the majority of businesses will make their digital transformation strategy without considering how their organization is currently operating, which can leave them vulnerable to either over or under transforming.
Depending on the scope of your digital transformation project, it may be necessary to evaluate all of the policies and practices that support the function, or division you’re looking to transform.
A similar evaluation of your entire organization is next, as you’ll need to contextualize project goals within the overarching ambitions of your company — and, if you are taking a continuity-minded approach, having a clear view of your organization’s challenges can help you implement later stages of digital transformation more easily within the framework you build after evaluation.
After assessing your business, it is important to understand how you compare to your direct competitors and your industry.
Are your competitors in the midst of their own digital transformation? What digital solutions are they working on? What new technologies or tools are being implemented within your industry? A competitive analysis will help you understand the market and identify opportunities to build a thriving business.
Knowing where your company is, and what it needs to do to reach the place it would like to be, is essential to building a roadmap that will get you there.
You can hardly create the right roadmap of future transformations if you don’t know where to start. Before making any digital transformation effort, carry out a profound analysis of the market dynamics. Because of rapid technology development and industry changes, this step is essential for creating the relevant and up-to-date strategy.
Before you can tackle the nuts and bolts of how you’re going to measure and collect data, you have to decide what data you’re going to collect and what metrics will be most valuable to your organization.
This needs to be a collaborative decision between leadership and the analytics team. Leadership will ultimately be using the data to make business decisions. Meanwhile, the analytics team has in-depth knowledge of the full measurement process. From the start, leadership and analytics should be working collectively to determine what will be measured and what business decisions will be made based on those measurements.
Get Your Team On Board
The implications of digital transformation reach wide and deep, and its success depends on buy-in from stakeholders while those driving transformation should take ownership of the project. Success depends, for example, on the involvement of team members at both the executive level and board level. Leaving either out can lead to a transformation project, getting stuck in a loop of approval and adjustment.
Once you have a digital strategy and solution thought out, it is imperative that you obtain executive buy-in.
Doing so not only shows your commitment to digital transformation but is critical to getting your project off the ground and running — and to ensuring investment. It might seem a relatively straightforward step in comparison to building out an entire digital transformation strategy, but it might take time to get the right buy-in so its key that you put this in motion as soon as possible once you have a solid plan in place.
Change is often painful, and not everyone will be happy about changing the old way of doing things.
It is important to clearly communicate your vision’s benefits and value, building a clear picture of what the end result would look like. Organizational silos, miscommunication, and misaligned priorities, are the reasons why most digital transformation initiatives fail — according to Forbes, the failure rate is staggering 70%.
Bringing in new state-of-the art systems and technologies alone won’t guarantee success.
It’s the commitment of the people behind those processes — your employees — that will drive digital transformation. The secret is communication, communication, and communication. It sounds simple but the lack of proper change management is very often the reason why the people in your company rather stick to their old workflows.
Sometimes employees may push back on digital transformation because of how the changes will affect their position.
Digital transformation may cause their job to become obsolete or drastically change their responsibilities. You can retain your employees and earn their support by offering training opportunities. By educating employees, you can expect improved consistency, business efficiency, and employee satisfaction.
It’s a well-known fact that people have an intense dislike of change. We like things that keep us within our comfort zone — and all the more so in the workplace.
When the change is announced within the company, many employees will be skeptical. If the management team doesn’t provide quick and concrete answers to their questions then the risk of the change failing increases — so it’s essential to create a change management strategy from the outset in parallel with the digital transformation strategy.
Leaders need to be skilled, competent, and effective in communication to execute a successful technology implementation in all aspects of a company.
Employees, managers and leaders who have experience, talent, and decision-making skills that align with the company’s digital future should collaborate and communicate openly to establish the best digital strategy for integrating new technologies. The importance of effective internal communications should not be overlooked during any business transformation.
Stay Ahead Of The Curve
Leaders of a company need to identify whether their work environment will take well to a digital transformation. If the culture isn’t adaptable to new technologies, it might be time to integrate some new talent in the workplace.
Ensuring that the work culture is prepared for a digital transformation is imperative.
Are team members, managers, leaders, and business executives prepared for radical change in technologies? No company wants to be in a position where its employees aren’t adapting to new technologies, programs, or software. This step could quite literally make or break the entire business transformation. If a company identifies gaps in the process, assesses the current market, and integrates a new technology, employees have to be onboard.
The most successful digital transformation strategy is grounded in organizational adaptability.
Culture must be the core of any organization. And, without a collaborative effort to develop employee values and behaviors, no organization will survive. Organizations have to build a digital culture that is empathetic, experimental, customer-obsessed, collaborative, and agile. Therefore, digital transformation requires a new momentum and rhythm in the organization.
For a successful digital transformation, you need to define a structure that supports your organization, and all stakeholder relations, including your employees.
To be successful, organizations need strong leadership focus on and companywide adoption of new technologies. Every department from top to bottom, every member of the C-suite level, but also all managers and their teams need to be held accountable for defining and executing digital transformation. In every process. Every day.
Getting the right leaders on board is a good first step. However, you can’t stop there.
The next step is to make sure that everyone in your organization understands this vision. That way, you can ensure that all the people on your team know why these efforts are important. Organizations with people who are involved in the process are more likely to succeed. Motivate your workers to experiment with fresh ideas, encourage them to learn new technologies, and listen to their feedback.
Companies that place too many restrictions on the process of innovation will only hamper creativity.
Without a collaborative effort to develop employee values and behaviors, no organization will survive. Give employees the freedom to ask questions and offer feedback. Organizations should encourage their teams to experiment and test various technologies throughout the process.
Digital transformation is an ongoing process.
As new technologies emerge and customer expectations evolve, you can never be 100% finished with your transformation. It is important to make sure your corporate culture keeps up with the transformation. In addition, you need to teach your staff to make the most out of the new tools and technologies and work efficiently within the new ecosystem.
Create The Roadmap
The overall digital transformation goals must be broken down into more specific objectives. This can include everything to how you want your employees to collaborate with each other to how you want to better communicate and serve your customers. The more specific, the better end-result your transformation will have.
Create a clear, linear roadmap that serves to guide the company in navigating a successful digital transformation.
With the right strategy, and the right buy-in, you need to look at your digital transformation plan practically and build an effective roadmap. You can’t change everything at once, and you need to have a comprehensive plan of how your transformation will actually work.
Rather than trying to incorporate all of your changes at once, take a step back and work in iterations.
By executing a plan in digestible chunks, you can make continuous and significant improvement on a regular basis without introducing sporadic, overwhelming and disruptive change. Most importantly, an iterative approach will ensure resources are concentrated in areas where they will be most impactful.
Into every project, a little rain must fall. But even the most torrential downpour is no match for a well-defined list of priorities, responsibilities, and benchmarks once they’ve been established.
Frequent communication of project goals, milestones, and timeframes helps maintain engagement and enthusiasm across the board. Clear definition of responsibilities and roles, and the ways in which they support the project, help minimize delays, errors, and omissions. A straightforward, but adjustable, timetable allows for breathing room while still establishing measurable and visible progress.
Digital transformation is a long process of evangelism.
Although company executives are increasingly aware of it, a number of employees don’t know about or misunderstand the phenomenon. That’s why you need to organize every single aspect of the communication plan that will accompany your digital project. It’s how you’ll convince, reassure and guide users throughout the change.
With proper planning, observation and enacting continuous changes post-implementation, long-term sustainability is attainable.
As your plan rolls out, track and analyze your team’s performance. As you watch the process unfold, you may identify issues or opportunities to change for greater success. With every adjustment to your plan, take time to reflect on lessons learned so you can come at future adjustments with a deepened knowledge of your new process.
Find The Silver Bullet
There are many vendors, platforms, and solutions that can help you meet your digital transformation goals. The problem? Many organizations don’t take the time to think about what they actually need before choosing to implement technology. This wastes time, money and it can lead to digital burnout.
Digital transformation cannot be successful if you are not using the right tools to achieve your goals.
Enterprises have to deal with high evolved tech stacks that often encompass outdated legacy technology as well as cutting-edge innovative tools. Making these technologies play nicely together is not a challenge for the faint-hearted. You don’t need every piece of technology in existence to successfully implement digital transformation. Instead, choose technology that will support the processes you’re optimizing.
Ultimately, the technology you select should align with your goals, and help your organization meet its objectives.
Digital transformation on an enterprise scale almost always involves capital and technology-intensive investments. It is not uncommon for promising transformation projects to stall mid-way because of a lack of funds or due to technology infrastructure that cannot cope with increased demands.
Gaining a true understanding of how a business should invest to gain the most customer improvement is key.
Companies are full of intelligent people who can identify that change is required to create efficiencies, but the key is being in harmony with what the customer wants and working together towards that common goal. Organizations who think that simply moving to a new technology platform will be the silver bullet to fixing their business are underestimating what is required.
Because business transformation in respect to leveraging existing or emerging digital technologies is an ongoing process, it’s not a once-and-done project.
When selecting new technologies, think beyond your present need to what you may require down the road. This requires two avenues of thought and a little forward thinking. Will the system you are acquiring have the agility and ability to adapt to future needs — without costing your business more money?
As the world is always changing, you can’t be expected to renew your business software every other month.
That said, you will be expected to adapt and add new layers to your old system, and time to time throw some of them out. To make your life easier — there are software providers with constant product updates, excellent care and training programs. You just have to choose one.
Ask Your Customers
Unfortunately, many digital practitioners and technology professionals don’t realize that substantial digital improvements don’t necessarily start with an IT department team. Putting customer experience improvement at the center of the digital transformation strategy is key to success.
Once you create a vision and analyze the market, it’s time to focus on an experience you want to create for your customers and employees.
Instead of focusing on the limitations of existing technologies and new digital solutions, pay special attention to the experience you want to deliver. What value can you provide to your users? Is it convenient for them to interact with your company? How can you change the way employees engage in business processes?
Customer experience starts with employee satisfaction.
If a company has happy employees, this will lead to value for customers and therefore, nurture customer satisfaction. And providing a great customer experience leads to customer loyalty, maximized efficiency and positive word of mouth. After all, employees and customers are looking for the same things: speed, convenience, consistency and fully personalized experiences.
Digital transformation is all about leveraging digital tools in order to increase customer value.
So, to have a successful digital transformation, everything you plan for should take customer needs into consideration. For example, to supply more channels for communication, try combining customer management and communication in one place. Logging every email and detail of previously held conversations will allow you to better manage and cultivate customer relationships.
Being digital means being closely attuned to how customer decision journeys are evolving in the broadest sense — this involves understanding customer needs and keeping this insight at the center of everything the business does.
Uber, Zappos, and many of the other most cited “digital transformation” stories didn’t have to transform. They built their customer-obsessed cultures right from the get-go. And perhaps that’s what digital transformation is really all about; being obsessed with your customers. Take Apple, Amazon, Starbucks, Nike — almost any hugely successful company these days; and you’ll find that they really put the customer at the core of their strategy.
A digital transformation does not mean creating bling apps, or automating processes.
Digital transformation funnels down to just one thing: excelling in Customer Experience (CX). After all, what customers are looking for from organizations like yours to provide, are experiences that are easy, simple, effortless, and repeatable. That means re-envisioning both the processes that the customers themselves see and engage with as well as all of your internal operations which help behind the scenes to ensure that customers’ shifting purchasing preferences and buying behaviors are always fully served.
Building a successful digital transformation strategy doesn’t have to be a challenge. With the right support and expertise, you can adapt to change and outpace evolving demands.
We have to say that it’s a long process requiring thorough preparation and, most importantly, your belief in this mission.
Nevertheless, it’s worth it in the long run. In a highly competitive business environment, implementation of digital transformation is a sure-fire way to business development. And remember, failures and mistakes precede all great changes, but coping with difficulties and getting the desired result is the biggest reward.
Digital transformation can sometimes be a highly technical process.
But that’s no reason to look at it from a purely technical viewpoint — digitalizing a company’s processes is also a massive managerial challenge. After all, before you even think about your digital transformation, you need to make sure that your employees’ state of mind and behavior are ready to be transformed too.
Digital transformation isn’t a quick fix to a single problem. It’s an operational shift.
It’s an iterative process and shouldn’t be rushed. But with the right approach, moving from opinion-based to data-driven decision making will ultimately lead to big wins where it matters — your organization’s bottom line.
Digital transformation is not an overnight change.
But by building a strategic roadmap and starting with small changes, you can slowly start transforming key areas of the business and eventually be successful in meeting all objectives. In the digital age, the only way to survive and grow is to embrace digital.
Digital transformation is a journey, not a race. In order to stay in the digital game, your organization must be able to easily adapt to change, evolution and progress
Embracing digital transformation doesn’t have to be a struggle — nor does it have to end in disaster. Digital transformation is anything but easy, but having a well-thought-out and executed strategy will significantly improve your chances for success. If you are planning to implement a digital transformation project in your organization, I’d glad to hear about you and your own experience!