Despite being at the top of many corporate agendas for years, digital transformations are often challenging to implement. Earlier research has found that around 70% of these efforts are ultimately unsuccessful, attributed to a variety of factors from unclear objectives to a lack of funding or of leadership backing.
According to Gartner, digital transformation can refer to anything from IT modernisation to digital optimisation to the invention of new digital business models. Organisations choose to implement digital transformations for a variety of reasons, often motivated by the desire to remain competitive and relevant in a rapidly evolving digital world. Here are some key reasons for organisations to embark on digital transformations:
- Increased efficiency: Digital transformation often leads to streamlining processes, automating routine tasks and improving overall operational efficiency. This can result in significant cost savings and increased productivity.
- Enhanced customer experience: With digital platforms, organisations can offer personalised and more engaging customer experiences. They can utilise data analytics to understand customer preferences and behaviours, leading to improved service delivery and customer satisfaction.
- Access to data and insights: Digital transformation allows organisations to collect and analyse large amounts of data. These insights can drive better decision-making, predict market trends, and facilitate innovation.
- Improved agility and Innovation: Digital technologies enable organisations to be more agile, adapting quickly to market changes and customer demands. They also foster an environment of innovation, allowing for the rapid development and deployment of new products and services.
- Competitive advantage: In an increasingly digital marketplace, failing to keep up with digital trends can put an organisation at a significant disadvantage. Digital transformation can provide a competitive edge by leveraging the latest technologies.
- Scalability: Digital solutions are often more scalable compared to traditional methods, enabling organisations to grow and expand more easily.
- Sustainability: Digital transformation can also be driven by sustainability goals. Digital processes often reduce the need for paper-based systems and can optimise resource use, contributing to environmental sustainability.
Here, Technology Magazine explores 10 tips for organisations looking to complete a successful digital transformation.
10: Define clear objectives and strategy
Organisations looking to embark on a digital transformation should start by setting clear goals for what the digital transformation is intended to achieve. This includes understanding how it aligns with the overall business strategy and what specific outcomes are expected.
“To flip the odds of success in a digital transformation, you need to start with a strategy and set of goals that clearly define ‘success’ for your company – and map out how to get there,’” says Boston Consulting Group.
9: Engage leadership and secure buy-in
Effective digital transformation requires strong leadership and commitment from the top. Ensure that the leadership team is fully engaged and understands the value and implications of the transformation.
According to Deloitte, leadership in digital transformation can tip the scales toward success. “The CEO’s role is not only critical for most digital transformations, but also fundamentally different depending on the CEO’s ambition for the transformation and the organisation’s readiness to carry it out,” it says.
8: Focus on customer needs
When it comes to digital transformation strategies, it is essential to keep the customer at the centre.
Digital technologies have empowered today’s customers, providing them with more information and choices. Organisations must understand customers’ needs, expectations and how digital tools and processes can enhance their experience.
7: Foster a culture of change and innovation
Digital transformation often requires a cultural shift within the organisation. Organisations going about digital transformations must foster a culture that is open to change, encourages experimentation and embraces new ways of working.
According to insights from Google Cloud, technology, such as workplace collaboration tools, is one mechanism that helps to drive a culture of innovation. However, change management and processes must also be audited and adjusted to complement the collaboration technology in order to implement a true innovation strategy.
“Innovation is not an easy journey. You can’t achieve it with a single initiative or process. But a culture of innovation is achievable for any company.”
6: Ensure employee involvement and training
With many digital transformation efforts ultimately proving unsuccessful, organisations should engage employees at all levels in the transformation process. Provide the necessary training and support to help them adapt to new technologies and processes.
According to research by the University of Oxford's Saïd Business School, employee engagement campaigns can help improve the odds of successful digital transformation by more than two and a half times, from 28% to 73%.
5: Choose the right technology and partners
Carefully select the technologies and platforms that align with your objectives. Also, consider partnering with external experts or vendors who can provide valuable insights and support.
As identified by productivity platform Slack, with so many software applications and hardware solutions, choosing the wrong ones can cost you both time and money.
“Rather than picking products that sound good on paper, start with a strategic plan and then adopt the tools that organically make sense,” it says.
4: Prioritise data security and compliance
As digital transformation often involves handling significant amounts of data, organisations must ensure robust data security measures are in place.
Modern solutions such as Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) are key to securely connecting entities such as users and machines to applications and services located anywhere.
“Organisations generally begin a transformation journey with the ultimate goal of becoming more competitive by moving faster and more intelligently,” explains Zscaler, which identifies a number of benefits brought about by transformation. “They include an increase in productivity through the elimination of slow backhauls through data centres and latency-causing security controls.”
3: Implement in phases and learn from feedback
Organisations undergoing digital transformations should avoid a ‘big bang’ approach. By implementing changes in manageable phases, this allows time for learning and adjustments based on feedback from stakeholders. According to MIT Sloan Management Review, “Digital Transformation is better thought of as continual adaptation to a constantly changing environment.”
2: Measure and monitor progress
When digital transformation projects are underway, organisations should establish metrics and KPIs to measure the success of digital transformation initiatives, regularly monitoring these metrics and adjusting strategies as needed.
According to Gartner, organisations should choose the right digital measures of success to achieve the expected business outcomes.
“To measure digital transformation progress, CIOs need to shift from using operational efficiency metrics to measures that interest executive decision makers,” Gartner says.
1: Be agile and open to adaptation
The digital landscape is constantly evolving. With economic pressures and a need for organisations to adapt in a digital age, an Agile approach can make digital transformations faster, more effective and more adaptable.
Already adopted by a number of organisations – including Apple, IBM and Microsoft – Agile relies on a wide-reaching set of principles, including early and continuous delivery, cooperation and embracing change.
Research from ServiceNow has found that Agile organisations score higher on just about every metric compared to non-Agile organisations, with customer loyalty ahead by as much as 20% and market share up by 11%.
“Businesses that adopt this approach are more responsive, better organised and quick to recover – all crucial attributes when it comes to delivering a successful digital transformation,” says Simon Morris, its VP of Solution Consulting UK&I.