Keeping up to date with new technologies is not always an easy task for some companies. Here are four key elements to keep in mind when it comes to successful digital transformation.
Leaders are often disappointed with the results of their digital transformation efforts. But research has shown that there are some common denominators among those who succeed—we can learn from them.
Digital technologies are advancing so fast and offering so much new potential, that the pressure to transform is reaching amazing intensity for organizations. New research from McKinsey shows that digitization brings significant economic potential, much of which is yet to be captured.
Large economic potential is linked to digitization—and much of it yet to be captured. So, what does it take to become a digital superstar? Rising to that level is not easy. Here are four key aspects that have been shown to significantly improve the odds of success.
1. Prioritizing a culture of innovation and constant change
Many organizations have learned the hard way that digital transformation is not just about the technology. It is about the people. More specifically, it is about leadership.
How well your existing employees can adapt to change, how involved your leaders are with the change initiatives, and the level of awareness of the impact of digitization on the people involved are all major factors that affect the outcome.
Each is directly impacted by leadership.
A Forrester survey cited resistance to change, confusion, and misaligned expectations as some of the most common roadblocks for digital transformation efforts. Leaders who lay out clear priorities are more likely to have success, according to a report by McKinsey, who applied machine learning algorithms to data from over 1,700 executives currently involved in digital transformation.
Even leaders are confused about the very nature of digital transformation itself, with as many as 21 percent failing to understand that it is an ongoing process, not a finite project that has an endpoint.
Cultural change also entails shifting toward new kinds of performance indicators within the company. Are the hallmarks of innovation – like collaboration, openness, accountability, and cross-functional teams – being reflected in the values that managers rely upon to judge progress and performance?
2. Getting good talent to Join Your Team
To make such sweeping cultural changes like these, it is often necessary to bring on new talent. That is especially true for incumbent enterprises, who may be carrying decades’ worth of cultural baggage and who have little or no real internal capability with digital or analytics. Specialized leaders like Chief Digital Officer (CDO) and Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) are fast becoming essential positions at the executive level.
And do not forget cyber security –titles like Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) are vital to transformational success and sustainability. The cyber skills gap in this area is affecting companies’ abilities to hire and retain good talent so this will be a major an ongoing area of concern for business leaders. “Cybersecurity Engineer” was one of the most in-demand jobs for 2019 and will continue to be a tough position to fill until the training pipeline catches up.
Organizations are also bringing designers on board to shepherd them through their transition phases and make sure they stay on track. Elevating the importance of key agile functionalities within the organization – like transparency, collaboration, and a customer-first mentality – starts with putting designers in the C-Suite. Titles such as Director of Digital Transformation & Design, Digital Transformation Officer, Senior Engagement Leader, and VP of User Experience” are not uncommon these days at companies who are leading the way on digitization.
3. Going Agile
Competitors who digitize faster and better are capturing market share and winning over the hearts of their customers and their staff. Relentless change at breakneck speeds best describes the level of pressure that leaders are facing, as a result. Many established businesses are fighting just to stay relevant in the digital era, much less compete with digital native upstarts or first adopters who boarded the digitization train before them.
Responding rapidly to market forces, keeping up with ever-changing customer demands, and the ever-increasing relevance of delighting customers in every way all point the way toward agility as a key factor in digital success.
Going agile means being able to shift your priorities without turning the company on end. This requires companies to review their processes, weigh feedback, and consult data more often than ever. Another survey cited the ability to modify standard operating procedures and include new digital technologies as a key factor in digitization success. Another finding: allowing employees to work in an Agile “test-and-learn” environment contributes to success, too.
Excelling at going Agile means drawing upon other capabilities like the factors mentioned earlier: a culture of innovation and leaders who are committed to and capable of initiating real transformation.
4. Scaling digital transformation and making it sustainable
Change that is fueled from a centralized authority tends to result in burnout – especially in IT. Legacy systems act like a ball and chain, slowing down change efforts and hogging resources. Enlisting the help of digital partners can exponentially increase the scalability and sustainability of any digital transformation efforts. Third-party vendors who offer services that are acquirable at the departmental level are fueling gains in efficiency across the board, from small businesses to the largest enterprises in the world.
The numbers show that many companies are coming up short on proper investment in SaaS. That same Forrest report cited earlier shows that a surprising 45 percent of companies have not invested in SaaS yet. They cited this as a clear example of the “sorry state of digital transformation”, along with lack of investment in artificial intelligence and lack of concern about cyber security in general and data breaches specifically.
Stay current on digital Transformation and other great topics
The road to digitization is different for every organization. But these four key factors have proved to be a common thread among those who have seen success with their digitization efforts. Looking ahead, there may be stumbling blocks on your road to reimagining the workplace but the important thing is to stay informed. Reduce uncertainty, learn from others, and continue to embrace new ideas on the road ahead.
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