8 Tips for Starting with Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation Thinking

Along with artificial intelligence (AI), this thing called “digital transformation” has to be one of the most written about business and IT trends over the last few years. However, despite the name, it’s ultimately about business transformation more than it is the technology.

Yes, there’s increased exploitation of technology and data, but digital transformation – at its core – is about new ways of thinking and working. And there’s a lot to consider. For instance, how should your organization start its initiative? It’s a little similar to how to eat an elephant – one bite at a time. But which bites do you take first?

To help your organization to get started with digital transformation, here are eight tips:

1. Get everyone on the same page

It might sound obvious but because there are so many definitions of digital transformation, it’s easy for different people to have different views as to what it entails. Then there’s a strong probability that their definition will distort change activities in favor of their agenda ahead of others. The following quote, and definition, is a good example of the differing views on what digital transformation is:

 “For some executives, it’s about technology. For others, digital is a new way of engaging with customers. And for others still, it represents an entirely new way of doing business. None of these definitions is necessarily incorrect” ~ McKinsey

2. Recognize that digital transformation is a people change initiative

In addition to the required change in thinking mentioned in my introduction, there’ll also be changes required across your organizational culture and structure, strategy, and people management. It’s might not be a case of radically changing business strategies and models though – but this will ultimately depend on the as-is state.

3. Ensure you have a laser focus on the customer

If you think about it, it’s what makes businesses successful. Hence the often-common focus on efficiency-based process optimization and cost-cutting will probably be at odds with your new digital transformation efforts.

4. Don’t overlook proven business transformation frameworks

While your organization’s digital transformation might appear unique, please don’t try to reinvent the wheel or struggle with issues (and mistakes) that have been solved elsewhere. So, look to existing business transformation expertise, both in proven frameworks and third-party advisory as needed.

5. Don’t underestimate how digital transformation will stress your organization

This isn’t just from a technology perspective. Your organization also needs to prepare for the activities and organizational pressures related to digital transformation and how it will impact work and people.

6. Ensure that you assess the as-is state

It’s difficult to head toward and arrive at a new destination if you don’t know where you’re starting from. And don’t just identify what’s not working, highlight the positives too – because these areas can also be built upon. For instance, in extending IT service management (ITSM) best practice to other lines of business through an enterprise service management or back-office digital transformation strategy.

7. Plan and prioritize your changes carefully

Agree and prioritize your digital transformation scope and lock it down (of course with a mechanism for controlled change when justified). As with any change project/program, it’s going to be important to target, and then communicate the success of, some early quick wins.

8. Make digital transformation more than a one-time project/program

As with ITSM, digital transformation activity should never really end because it’s about continual improvement. With this related to adding new products/services, improving customer engagement mechanisms, and optimizing back-office operations.

So, that’s my eight tips for getting started with digital transformation. What else would you add? Please let me know in the comments.

Are you looking for an article on organizational change management or enterprise service management?

Ariel Gesto
InvGate Founder & Chief Evangelist at InvGate

Ariel is a driven executive with 15+ years of experience, passionate about technology and innovation, and Endeavor entrepreneur since 2013. Proven leadership in building successful businesses from startup to success, with the ability to blend market research and analysis with technical innovation to deliver winning solutions.

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