The analyst community and every tech vendor on the planet seem to be saying the same thing – if your business is going to survive, you need to go through a digital transformation. No need to argue the point – they are right! But, could somebody please give us a clear definition of the term “digital transformation” that would apply to all types of businesses and we all can agree upon? And, there’s one more logical question we need to ask – If my company embarks on this digital transformation process, how will we know when we have successfully completed it?
How we go about completing a digital transformation in our ever-changing world is not exactly clear. You see there’s this minor(?) problem called the evolution of advancing technology that says as soon as you think you have completed whatever technology project it is (your digital transformation), there will be even newer technologies that now make much of what you have just completed obsolete, or at least not state-of- the-art. So, at best, if we accept that digital transformation is a never-ending journey, what tips are there that can at least help us make progress towards completing it? Here are three simple tips that when followed can make this process more easier and help you achieve positive results.
Identify What Digital Transformation is Required by Constituencies
When talking about digital transformation, the next catch phrase that always seems to come out is “customer experience.” Great! That’s important, but what about the employee experience? What about the vendor/supplier experience? Digital transformation is about changing how we communicate and interact with every constituency we come in contact with. So, the logical starting point is to look at every constituent group you interact with, examine what is needed to create the optimum communicative/interactive experience for each of those constituents, and let that desired experience drive your requirements for your digital transformation. Remember, the experience for different constituents is not a ‘one-size fits all’ kind of thing.
Set Realistic Expectations
Trying to complete a digital transformation is not like trying to replace some homegrown ERP system you’ve been using for 30 years (as difficult as that may be). Making the digital transformation happen in our companies is probably more challenging than anything we have ever tried to tackle in our careers and there is no destination. This effort requires enormous collaboration because digital transformation touches every aspect of everything you do. And, because of the constant advancement of technology, a goal of completing your digital transformation is a bit like trying to hit a moving target. Be a realist. Let your people know that while they have made progress on the journey, you acknowledge the fact that there is always going to be more work to do in making this transformation.
Celebrate Your Successes
Working to transform any business to more of a digital model is not something that occurs overnight. Exceptional planning, reaching agreement on key requirements (yes LOB and IT must come together on this project), learning and utilizing new toolkits and development technologies, etc., nobody said it was going to be easy. But if you truly hope to achieve the transformation, you must celebrate your small successes along the way. This is a journey and it can be a long and arduous one. Keeping morale up and having a culture that embraces innovation will be key to maintaining a positive outlook and enthusiasm for the project. In the end, getting this done will take a major commitment from your people. Help them understand the value of their successes along the way and thank them for their efforts.
Did you ever think that maybe this digital transformation thing might be a myth? Not a myth in the sense that it is not real, but a myth in terms of ever truly completing it? Maybe it’s time we step back and try to simplify this. Digital transformation is really about aligning our newest and best technologies to the needs of our customers, our employees and the vendors/suppliers we do business with? This is the essence of making the digital transformation happen and by this definition, it is happening every day. Digital transformation is a change we all need to make. Let’s get onboard and enjoy the journey.
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