Are you considering the transformation of your business processes and culture around digital technologies? Perhaps you want a new way for your staff to interact with your customers? Maybe you’re looking to transfer your paper processes into the digital domain?
We often get asked: what is a digital transformation strategy?
If you’re looking to integrate digital technology into every area of your business, making use of smart applications, interactive displays, and connected workplaces, then you’re considering digital transformation. It’s a cultural shift in the way you operate and how you deliver value to your customers.
But why do you need a strategy? Surely it’s just a case of buying new tech and implementing it?
Well, you might be slightly perturbed to discover that 70 percent of all digital transformations fail to work or meet expectations.
So, in this article, we're going to explore how to develop a digital transformation strategy to help you avoid the pitfalls; ensuring a significant return on your investment.
The failure of digital transformations usually come down to naivety in implementation. The idea that you can just buy a bunch of machines, implement them and watch the benefits roll in is a risky strategy.
The first stage for setting out your digital transformation is to consider: what are you replacing with what?
It's probably not enough to merely replace a paper process with an electronic one without first analyzing the efficiency of the original procedure.
Transferring to digital processes, therefore, is more about a recognition of global efficiency as opposed to a direct translation. Looking at how things can be done better is always crucial for any company with a culture of continuous improvement. Have a dedicated team of people who identify the problems in existing processes and aim to address those with technological solutions.
Approaching change as a journey without a predetermined end usually ensures more mindful and effective implementation of digital business transformation strategies.
Digital transformation is a disruption, prompting a refocus on organizational infrastructure while demanding a reassessment of how you allocate and retain talent. It’s about looking at your people, policies, processes, and procedures.
Look at how your processes, departments, and people are interconnected - these are the links that your digital transformation strategy should be built upon.
These are the connections that digital technologies were created to optimize.
As you implement your digital transformation, consider how the metrics you use to gauge productivity and success will change.
As some parameters become less significant, you’ll need to identify new datasets to help you measure progress and company performance.
Effective digital transformation is as much about time as it is about efficiency. Some implementations could have immediate effect while others need more thorough consideration.
Installing interactive displays in meeting and huddle rooms, for example, can bring prompt improvements to workplace efficiency.
Interactive displays can facilitate multi-platform meetings, allowing people in the room to effortlessly liaise and collaborate with workers on other sites and with freelancers who work from home.
This widens your talent pool considerably, ensuring that everyone can work as a team to meet universal and personal targets.
Transferring or translating processes from the analog to the digital domain, on the other hand, requires a roll-out strategy encapsulating training and practice before operations hit optimum efficiency and reliability.
Rushing a digital transformation is a risky route to success.
Not all elements of your digital business transformation strategy will take place at the same time.
There are going to be as many sprints to the finish line as there are slow, carefully considered, interim milestones.
Recognize what can be done quickly, such as adopting off-the-shelf Project Management software packages like Microsoft Teams (which natively integrate with Avocor products) and Slack, to help teams work and communicate collaboratively.
Some changes take longer or need adjustment once implemented to maximize their efficacy. Recognize that each stage of the digital transformation strategy has a whole new list of challenges.
It's unrealistic to assume that any IT project is going to execute flawlessly every time.
If, for example, you're automating a manufacturing process with a robotic solution, you might find the initial implementation relatively risk-free.
Companies that implement Robotic Process Automation can run into fairly substantial problems early on in the roll-out. They might need approval and alignment with stakeholders, and IT might need to integrate with teams who aren’t used to dealing with IT professionals.
Getting the support and approval of the people on the floor can take time, especially if there’s a perception that human jobs are being taken over by machines.
Successful roll-out strategy, therefore, relies on excellent communication, retraining, support, and resource to ease-in the changes.
Additionally, there will be a body of work to reassure your teams that digital transformation will benefit everyone.
Effective management of a digital business transformation strategy starts with a recognition that there’s not going to be a grand “switch-on” event. It’s going to be a multi-year journey, and your management of the project should be built on acceptance of this reality at its very heart.
Successful transformation projects require support for budget and management.
Look at the objectives you set out at the beginning of the journey, and recognize what can be delivered promptly and what's going to need more significant support. Allocate a reasonable budget and management milestones for each stage.
Getting teams to work more collaboratively is as much a culture change as a technological one. That shift in focus can be controlled through Project Management applications, Performance Management hardware, and ways of bringing everyone together.
Think multi-platform accessibility and interactive displays as focal points for bringing people and ideas together in meetings.
There’s a lot to be learned from the venture capital model.
This approach dictates that project leaders make capital available, while the various stages of the process draw on that capital as and when they need it; as opposed to sticking rigidly to a detailed plan drawn out at the start.
That sounds like we’re contradicting ourselves, but we’re not.
It’s imperative to have a detailed plan at the beginning of your project, but expecting it to roll-out precisely as prescribed is a strategy for frustration.
Effective digital transformation is a process of change that will have unexpected demands along the way.
So, plan for surprises.
Some companies think that it should be the job of one person to oversee a digital transformation: the CEO/CIO, etc.
But the transformational journey is a team effort, with two separate paths.
One path is the boots-on-the-ground implementation; the other is the “journey team”.
The journey team is the ones driving the vision while evaluating progress; allocating appropriate funds to secure the transformation.
The boots-on-the-ground team, equally, need an evaluative framework to help recognize and report necessary milestone progress. They can identify problems as they happen, giving the journey team what they need to assess the possible digital solutions.
Where you’re considering a digital transformation project, consider your strategy to be one of preparation, evaluation, and a realistic time-frame.
It’s true to say that while 89% of businesses plan to implement a digital-first strategy, only 44% of them are actually actively pursuing the approach.
Surprising as that sounds, it means that companies actively pursuing a digital transformation strategy are ahead of the game and will remain ahead of the game for a significant time to come.