Digital transformation is quantifiably good for business, and crucial for keeping up in the current marketplace, but a true digital transformation isn’t as simple as adding some extra online features and calling it a day. That being the case, how do you implement the kind of full digital transformation that will actually benefit your company?
It is absolutely critical to approach digital transformation with a clear plan from the get-go. Trying out bits and pieces on the fly is no more efficient (or affordable) than buying a plane ticket at the airport and keeping your fingers crossed for a connecting flight. Like any expedition, digital transformation needs to be mapped out as meticulously as possible beforehand.
There’s no one-size-fits-all guide that can tell you how to reach your destination. The question, then, is how to create a roadmap that fits your organization and your goals.
1. Define objectives
What exactly does your company want to get out of this process? Start with an overall vision—being a company that better understands and interacts with its customers, for example. Then quantify those goals. What does that overall vision really mean at the level of nuts and bolts? Perhaps your organization wants to bump up the rate of successful online transactions to 80%, or increase the rate of repeat clients by 25%. Outline what your company’s overall goal is, and what that means in numbers.
2. Assess resources
Now that you’ve established what you want to accomplish, examine the resources you have at your disposal. What are the technologies your company has or can develop or invest in that can be applied to your goals? Digital transformation should be looked at as a means for addressing organizational goals using technology—not technology for its own sake. Then further consider the talent within your organization as well as the processes that could be leveraged. Essentially, figure out the tools your company has, and how they can be used to meet your objectives. In this way, you can create a clear path forward.
3. Get everyone on board
If digital transformation involves top-down, holistic change, then the whole business needs to be involved. Once a clear course of action has been established, it can be presented to all levels of management to ensure their support. In particular, bring in the CMO, the CIO, and the CHRO. Given that digital transformation is a technology-driven initiative, IT absolutely must be closely involved throughout the entire process. The inclusion of the CHRO might be less intuitive, but it is no less important: digital transformation should be people-oriented in nature, both externally and internally. Get different departments to work together, using open channels of information to promote cross-functional collaboration. There shouldn’t be any quarantined silos of innovation; spread those throughout the organization instead.
4. Evaluate results
Once strategies have been implemented, keep track of the effects they have. Compare your results with the objectives you set out at the beginning. Are you reaching those goals? If not, tweak your strategy until it works. Once positive results come in, disseminate them to the rest of the organization so that all its members can see the value of their efforts.
Digital transformation means navigating your company through uncharted territory, but you shouldn’t be wandering aimlessly. By following these four steps—defining objectives, assessing resources, getting everyone on board, and evaluating results—you can map out a clear route to see your company safely to its destination.