In a recent article, we covered the basics of digital transformation: what it is, why it’s important, and whether it’s the jolt your business needs to be a leader in its industry. In this article, we explore the details of the digital transformation process.
The word ‘transformation’ might have tipped you off to this already, but it’s worth restating: digital transformation involves more than a few digital tweaks to your business. It’s a holistic change to your business’s operating model, its processes, and the way it delivers value to customers.
How do you prepare for such a comprehensive transformation? It’s not as intimidating as it sounds. In this article, we’ll walk you through the foundations of a successful digital transformation project.
Here are the three essential steps:
1. Recognize the Problem
The first step in a successful digital transformation process is a relatively simple one: recognizing you’re facing a problem digital transformation can solve. It sounds simple, but this stage involves more than a flash of inspiration or a lightbulb moment about the wonders of embracing digital marketing.
At this point in the process, organizations are usually operating with a business-as-usual perspective. If the idea of doing something ‘digital’ comes up, it’s usually in the context of the organization’s existing processes, business models, technologies, and customer base. But the first step in a digital transformation project requires taking a step back from this business-as-usual M.O. and taking stock of where your business stands.
Taking stock means coming to terms with a variety of things, including how your area of business is changing, what your competitors are doing to embrace digital technology, and what your customers really want out of a digital experience. Exploring these questions will help to shed light on what strategies need to be adopted, what processes need to be transformed, and whether digital transformation is the right move.
2. Take Stock
Taking stock will look different for every business, but there are five key areas you’ll want to focus on:
- Your own operations. This means undertaking a clear and objective analysis of the situation and thinking through the value proposition for digital transformation for your company.
- Your customers. You’ll need to get a handle on your customers and their digital needs. What value do they derive from your product or service? What are their objectives? What do they want from your company?
- Your competition. Identifying and understanding your competition is key. How are they using digital strategy? What opportunities are they missing? Are there areas where digital transformation would help you differentiate from your competition?
- Your resources. Digital transformation isn’t fast or free. You’ll want to crunch the numbers on the time, money, talent, and other resources you’ll be able to dedicate to the digital transformation process.
- Your strengths and weaknesses. Use all the data you have – customer satisfaction surveys, web analytics, sales figures, etc. – to get a sense of where you’re starting from. What works for you? What doesn’t? What could be improved with a new (digital) strategy?
3. Prioritize Digital Leadership
The early stages of digital transformation projects aren’t often all that digital.
As we mentioned, laying the groundwork for a digital transformation project involves identifying a problem and taking stock of your company’s operations, customers, competition and resources, as well as its strengths and weaknesses.
None of these activities take digital technology as their starting point. This is a key point about digital transformation projects: they start from leadership rather than from technology.
If it sounds counterintuitive, that’s understandable — we see many examples of ingenious tech and digital strategy these days. It’s exciting and can make you want to jump on the bandwagon and run with it, adapting the tech, designs, and content strategies to your business with wild abandon. But shoehorning a particular technology or digital innovation into your business (i.e. starting with technology) probably won’t bring about a meaningful digital transformation.
Instead, prioritize leadership as you take your first steps down the path to digital transformation. Assembling a killer team with the right leadership to forge your path will help to ensure you craft a specific, clear roadmap for your digital transformation; it will help ensure cultural fit and buy-in from employees and senior staff; it will ensure that workers get the training and education they need to fully ‘go digital’.
Digital transformation doesn't have to be an intimidating undertaking. With a solid foundation and the right team in place, it can be an exciting turning point for a business.
In this article, we’ve outlined three steps — recognizing the problem, taking stock, and prioritizing leadership — that will help you set your business up for digital transformation success.
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