Recently I was at a conference and one of the sessions focused on the topic of digital transformation. I was taken aback for a second as I was sitting in the session. I stared at the presenter, looked at my clock and thought to myself “man, what year is it? Have I gone back in time?”
The reason it had me puzzled was because I remember when digital transformation was a buzz topic in 2011. You can imagine that I was shocked that 8 years later, people were discussing digital transformation as if it was something novel.
I was also a bit stunned because after being in and around the technology industry for 10+ years and hearing about the impact of rapid technological advances, the fact that there are still struggles around understanding digital transformation, establishing digital transformation programs and the penetration of digital change across industries was a bit surprising to me.
After realizing that no, in fact, there was no time traveling at this conference, I started thinking about why digital transformation has remained such a challenge for so many. And that’s not just an anecdote – the stats say the same thing. Here are a few to prove my point (besides, what would a strategy blog post be without a few stats for ya):
- In November 2011, a three-year study conducted by the MIT Center for Digital Business concluded that only one-third of companies globally have an effective digital transformation program in place.
- In October 2017 a survey of 890 CIOs and IT Directors across 23 countries by Logicalis Group found that 44% of respondents felt complex legacy technology is the chief barrier to digital transformation
THAT WAS ONLY TWO YEARS AGO! Ok, I digress…
- In the 2019 CIO Agenda study from the Hackett Group showed that barely 17% of the IT leaders in the survey had any actual current or imminent plans for enabling this transformation.
I’ll stop here for a second so you can take those statistics in.
Ok. Let’s go on.
With budgets growing for analytics, personalization, machine learning and data science, I felt it was important to throw in my two cents on this digital transformation subject because the process can be complex. Here are a few pieces of advice on how to prepare yourself for the undertaking of digital transformation and taking advantage of the new opportunities technology is providing.
Align on the Goals of Digital Transformation Within Your Organization
The success and strength of a digital transformation strategy lies in the goals and objectives. Some reasons you might be going through a digital transformation process may include:
- Using technology to enhance customer value propositions
- Bringing your organization up-to-date w/ rapid technology
- To stay competitive in your industry and w/ other digital players
- Increasing your audience’s accessibility and connectivity to your organization
Productive digital transformation requires a well-thought strategy and that aligns your team on common goals and focuses on changing both your organizational culture and serving your audiences in new and imaginative ways that benefit the business.
Audit Your Technologies
If you are going to make changes to your technologies, you should have a lay of the land first because digital transformation isn’t all about significant investments in new tech. You may already have some of the technologies you need to support the business through transformation. Documenting roles and responsibilities of technologies in your stack is a great way to uncover where more investment may be needed, where technologies may need to be retired, acquired, etc.
Focus on Culture & Communication
Going through the process of digital transformation will impact your company’s culture – it’s inevitable. In order to brace for change, it is important to revisit your company’s business culture and make sure that it is clear how transformation will reinforce the culture you have today OR identify where changes will happen and make sure you are communicating appropriately how things will change and why. Where companies often struggle with digital transformation is getting buy-in from employees because they fear the culture change, so clearly communicating will help foster a collaborative cultures that will help you get through digital transformation more easily.
I’ll stop there for now because the process of digital transformation is unending so therefore, this blog post could go on forever. Digital transformation is by no means easy, but seeing the statistics about the challenges is still shocking. I am here to tell you that you CAN do it. Tackling the above are just the first steps, but it will help set you up for success. I promise.
Stay thirsty, friends!