3 Pillars of a Successful Digital Transformation Strategy

Well, going by the title, this write-up will revolve around Digital Transformation. So first of all, let’s understand what this term is all about. Digital transformation fundamentally transforms how companies operate in their standard to complex procedures.

It is not restricted to integrate digital technologies in some specific business cases. But it is about integrating digital capabilities all across the organization. 

Well, any organization can claim to be digital. But, in the true sense, for this to happen, there is a constant effort consists of many layers—understanding technology, managing integration, and leading some cultural change. Apart from making these incremental changes, it requires a determined vision and a visionary approach to create a successful digital transformation strategy. 

Now, it comes to why digital transformation matters?

Organizations always want to keep technology at the core of the transformation which is somewhere and somewhat is the optimal solution as well. But it is the strategy, not the solution itself. Without going through some strategic preparation for introducing change in the organization, even the best technology can fail to bring the desired change. 

It has already been estimated that in the year of 2018 itself, organizations across the globe have spent over $1.3 trillion on digital transformation projects. Unfortunately, as a bad omen, out of the whole amount, about $900 billion has not brought expected results. 

And if you don’t know, what is the difference between successful and failed projects. In successful projects, a solid and documented digital strategy was implemented in the start and updated as it progressed towards completion. 

Now, it comes to simplify what digital transformation strategy is?

Today, every organization expects a big digital disruption, but more than half of them are prepared to be disruptive. May they have the technology tools, but they lack the strategy to put things in perspective. Well, more than a technology, a digital transformation is a strategic roadmap for leveraging digital technologies to ensure a business advantage. 

To be digital is no longer a necessity, it has become quintessential to remain relevant, competitive, and profitable as well. 

From a basic point of view, a well designed digital transformation strategy answers essential questions of why, what, and who, creating a complete roadmap for the transformational change. In detail, this roadmap goes like this:

  • First of all, why. It showcases the reason for the change and reveals the stake. On one hand, it gives business to grow at an unprecedented pace or showcase an opportunity to know the threat looming over its existence. 
  • Now it comes what. It gives meaning to the object of change. You know digital is full of buzzwords like Cloud, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence. So harnessing them to improve the employee experience and show it why it is crucial for an organization.
  • ‘Who’ represents the executives or the shareholders who will drive the change.

The roadmap of digital transformation bridges technology with business, innovation projects with business operations, and a culture of experimentation.  

Now, it comes to shed some light on the three pillars of digital transformation. Basically, all the successful digital transformation strategies share three aspects. Well, their respective implementation is pretty much different, as the challenges and the operation of every organization are different. 

Clear and measurable objective

It has already been mentioned that digital transformation is not only about technology. It is also about solving a typical business case with digital means. But it requires some real introspection and unbiased analysis of the company’s current state of challenges and opportunities. And after the keen evaluation of the current situations, stakeholders can laser focus on one area and strive hard to improve it. 

According to Forbes, having a clear purpose is the most important quality a digital transformation leader should have. It assists them to focus, single out priorities among multiple tasks, and give them a tentative measure of accessing the progress of the digital transformation process. 

For instance, Amazon’s drive to introduce its Prime membership program is the perfect example of a clear purpose. It was Jeff Bezos’s belief that the company has to deliver the experience customers are looking for. Many criticized this model, even among Amazon’s board. But in the end, through the collaborative approach of various departments of Amazon, and in the end strategy paid off. And now the model is known for raising a new bar for convenience in online shopping. 

Executive leadership and engagement

Mckinsey once tried to bring digitization through its many initiatives and ongoing executives’ involvement in their progress making companies 2.3-2.5 times more likely to succeed. As expected, there was much enthusiasm at the start. But by the time, things got messy.  

Keep one thing in mind that some initiatives will not pay off. As priorities and the market scenarios change with time. 

Having an engaged executive owner who can cut through vague situations, resolve conflicts, and align cross-department efforts is a massive contributor to the success of a digital transformation.

And it needs to be complemented with the fast-decision process. As the fast decision empowers the whole organization to act speed at scale. The big tech giants understood this fact a long time ago and implemented in their core operations. 

It may be hard to convince organizations like these two to be swift and agile. But, fortunately, these two organizations proved that size is not a bottleneck if leaders have the right approach to move. 

Working at speed also empowers companies to iterate and adapt the course of the digital transformation at pace. The competition will keep changing, the market scenarios will change. But, at last, success depends on how quickly companies can adapt their strategy to those changes. 

Many executives tend to make the right decisions, thus underestimate the cost incurred by stalling to make sure the decision is the right one. So sometimes being fast is better for the organization than being right. 

Aligning company culture

The ‘human one’ is certainly one of the most underrated aspects of digital transformation. Yes, the right strategy is something quintessential. But sometimes toxic culture eats strategy. So to put the right culture in place is of utmost importance. And among the most frequent cultural shifts, getting out of your space and getting closer to the customer is one of the most important ones.  

For instance, Adobe decided to make a switch from the traditional software licensing model to a subscription-based service business model. In this model, leaders took the help of all employees for better customer experience. To employ this model, Adobe designed ‘Experience-a-thon, a program that puts employees in their customer’s shoes and spurs change. It successfully turned employees into users, and the organizations got some real feedback from the process. Through this process, Adobe successfully engaged its employees, which is by the way one of the keys to the digital transformation process. Just look at the number in relation to customer experiences.

56% of businesses assess the impact of digital technologies in relation to customer experience.

The Road to the Conclusion

Organizations with a full-fledged and insightful digital transformation strategy have always an extra weapon in their arsenal to become more relevant and future-ready. They put themselves ahead of their competition by navigating the shifting digital landscape. However, there is not a single strategy to work for all, as every business has unique problems and strengths to rely on. So they all have to identify their unique problems to solve on their way to digital maturity. And to age digitally at pace through harnessing cognitive technologies, discuss the best prospects with us.

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