Measuring the power of a digital transformation strategy

14/12/20175 Minute Read

Nearly every business wants to be digitally mature. To reach that goal, though, you need a clear understanding of what digital maturity looks like and how to achieve it. Where can you start? Create a digital transformation strategy.

Digital maturity actually has far more to do with strategy than it does technology. If a business feels most comfortable focusing on tactical tech initiatives, then it isn’t yet digitally mature. For instance, a company may use a particular technology to solve a specific operational business problem—say, improving efficiency or enhancing customer service—but it isn’t leveraging technology to transform the business by improving its decision-making or strengthening its capacity for innovation.

It’s fine if you’re not there yet

A company that’s not digitally mature may also have a risk-averse culture that blocks innovation, probably because it’s afraid of failure. The organisation’s leadership, and even the staff, may have a rooted view of the way things have always been done—which also poses a barrier to true transformation.

If this sounds like your company, then it’s time to get a new vantage point from which to conceptualise the future direction of your business. But don’t feel too bad—a recent Deloitte survey on digital transformation found that just 15 percent of businesses in the early stages of digital maturity have a clear digital strategy. Sometimes—and this is particularly true in IT—we get so involved with picking the weeds in our day-to-day work that we don’t have the perspective needed to create a digital transformation strategy.

Think of all the fires you put out and items you hurriedly cross off a to-do list that replenishes itself overnight. When that happens, set your work down for a moment and walk several steps back so you can see what you’re doing with fresh eyes.

Define your digital transformation strategy

Having gained a new perspective, you’re ready to begin defining your strategy. As any capable technologist knows, implementing shiny new technology for the sake of technology will not get a business very far. Unless the tech in question is proprietary, it’s unlikely to provide any competitive advantage on its own.

  1. First, you need a vision of how the business will transform itself in today’s tech-enhanced world and work backward from there—devising strategies to leverage technology in service of its goals. Leadership needs to understand the profound impact technology can have on the business.
  2. Then, it needs to articulate a clear and coherent digital strategy to the entire staff. After all, a business can’t be mobilised toward a goal without everyone in it first understanding how the company intends to transform and what role technology (social, mobile, analytics, and cloud) will play in that evolution.

Build the foundation

For instance, consider information management: You may take a step back and recognise that the way your business stores documents is hindering your employees. By turning to a digital transformation solution, you can streamline information management processes. According to an IDC InfoBrief titled, “Digital Transformation for the Connected Office,” organisations that implemented this strategy reduced errors by 43 percent, cut storage costs by 42 percent, and increased employee productivity by 60 percent.

To succeed in this manner, leadership needs to commit to creating the processes and the culture that will facilitate these changes. After all, technology by itself will only get you partway there. You need to also invest in the skills necessary to bring a digital strategy to life and attract top talent to the organisation. Both leadership and staff—IT and non-IT—must cultivate agility, as well as adaptability, to capitalise on quickly evolving tech trends.

Culture must also become more risk tolerant to support the innovation required to truly transform. Leadership should be willing to accept failure as a natural step on the way to success, and it must support hesitant staff in becoming more comfortable taking risks. Collaboration is also crucial for achieving company-wide transformation.

Create the capacity to see it through

A large part of a digital strategy involves articulating a specific business objective, like pivoting the business to improve information management—but it also requires rewiring the way the business thinks about itself and its capacity to adapt. This is necessary to achieve transformation, not just in the short term but also on a repeatable basis now—and into the future.

As Deloitte points out in the previously mentioned survey, one powerful way to accomplish this is through telling stories about the business’s digital success so far. These stories gain employee buy-in and organisational traction for continued digital transformation.

Telling these stories creates pride in the organisation’s achievements and builds excitement about what’s possible for the company down the line. It also communicates and reinforces the digital strategy the business is pursuing, which unifies the organisation toward a common goal.

With the benefit of a digital strategy that’s broad enough in scope—i.e., not limited to a specific operational area or piece of technology, but intentionally aware of the environment in which the business operates and how it will adapt—your company can better understand how it will evolve and thrive in the digital world.

From there, you can take the risks necessary to compete in new and innovative ways. That creates the opportunity for true digital transformation that your employees—both present and future—will want to be a part of.

Learn more about digital transformation and how it affects your business here.

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