Here’s What You Need to Know to Be Successful at Digital Transformation

Are you taking a scary road into an uncertain future — also known as digital business transformation? Here’s what you need to know to maintain a steady course.  

What happens when you look around your business and suddenly realize that there are dramatic changes that need to be made to keep up with your competition? While not all the changes will involve technology, there’s a strong possibility that some digital transformation needs to happen within your business. Whether you are faced with aging software platforms and servers, outdated business logic or vendors whose processes are stuck in the Dark Ages, it’s time to get serious about this necessary disruption. Want to know how to be successful at digital transformation in your business? While there are no guarantees, these tips will help provide a shining beacon for your efforts to follow.

What is Digital Transformation?

There are many different ways to describe this phenomenon that seems to be sweeping through the business world, but one of the simplest is this: Digital transformation comes with a fundamental reimagining of your business based on the tools and technology available both now and in the future. The future part of that statement is important because you need to build your digital strategy in such a way that you’re not limiting your future self from a new and exciting way of doing business. This is one of the reasons that many organizations start at the bottom with updating their infrastructure and data models before getting to the more discrete customer-facing and employee-level changes.

Be Relentless in Your Focus

No, that doesn’t mean drive others to distraction with your constant requests. Instead, it’s important that you limit distractions as you move through your review of the organization and where you can gain the greatest benefit from your actions. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to fix everything that you see that isn’t working. The smaller items that feel like a “quick hit” often turn out to be simply a distraction that uncovers a larger issue. Steer clear of these items, especially when you are getting started. When you’re relentless in your focus, others will see that you are serious about making a change and be more apt to support a discrete effort than a widescale transformation that seems to move too quickly.

Think Big, Start Small

Perhaps you have a vision for exactly how you want the organization to look in the future. It’s more likely that you uncover pieces of the puzzle as you research specific tasks, but it’s good to keep that high-level dream alive and be able to dust it off and share with your business colleagues and stakeholders on a regular basis. When you work with key leaders to set these overarching goals for your success, each step that you take towards that future feels like a win that can be shared between teams.

Leverage Tech That Makes Your Data Transparent

The management of data and analytics is often considered a seat of power within the organization, but with great power comes great responsibility. When you take the steps to make your data transparent throughout the organization, you often have the side effect of raising the bar for others. No one wants to share their dirty laundry (or poor business results), and it’s easier to hide that information when your business is highly matrixed. Gathering insight and analytics from internal staff, customers and vendors often provide an exceptional decision-making tool that can help your business be more competitive and operationally stable than ever before.

Foster an Attitude of Openness and Empowerment

The most successful digital transformations come within companies where each individual feels as though their voice is being added to the whole — and heard. While you may not take every recommendation from staff, simply listening allows people to become more validated and confident in expressing new suggestions and adding insight. This web of information is where you find the sentience of the organization, tiny tidbits of data coming through customer-facing staff and vendors. When you empower people to make positive changes in their workflow or recommendations for improvement, those staff members are more likely to support future efforts that might not be as palatable. You might be surprised at the individuals of all ages who are not only willing, but eager, to learn new skills and foster change.

Creating an environment where digital transformation can flourish takes a great deal of time, energy and enthusiasm from senior leadership and the dedicated work of many individuals. While one person may be the “face” of digital transformation in your organization, it’s almost impossible to be successful without the support of many staff members in dozens of small ways on a weekly basis. From improving your customer experience to leveraging data-driven marketing and insight, taking the steps to embark on a journey of digital transformation may be one of the toughest and most rewarding projects you ever attempt.