Key strategies for successful digital transformation
In recent years, businesses have invested heavily in digital transformation. The pandemic fast-tracked digital transformation with the requirement for being agile, adaptable, and responsive becoming a business imperative. The benefits of running a data-driven business are acknowledged by all business leaders. The adoption of digital transformation was given impetus by the availability of new emerging technologies such as public cloud, which allowed vendors, partners, and customers to directly access their infrastructure without major investments in time and money. Big data analytics and cloud computing provided valuable insights via dashboards and the like. With digital transformation, businesses could be “future-ready” and agile* by leveraging emerging technologies such as AI, ML, and IoT.
There are several challenges that businesses have faced with digital technologies. While organisations were investing in digital initiatives, they were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital transformation was a work in progress, and organisations were forced to rely far more on digital platforms than they were prepared for. The well-planned digital initiatives had to suddenly scale up many-fold. Further, while organisations have prioritised digital strategies, they are hard-pressed to demonstrate the clear value of such initiatives. An IDC study on digital transformation challenges found that more than a third of companies said that management was more focused on business processes than on business outcomes. The other major challenge was that the metrics/KPIs being used did not allow them to adequately quantify business value.
While it is easy for organisations to jump on the digital transformation bandwagon, a successful digital transformation can only be achieved with a comprehensive strategy. Let’s look at some of the aspects that will help bring digital transformation to fruition.
#1 - Start from the top: A digital transformation strategy needs to be embedded in every aspect of the business. Top management and business leaders need to define the purpose of going digital, and align the strategy with business outcomes, so that there is a clear path to realising business value. A clearly defined roadmap is necessary that specifies all digital transformation initiatives along with timelines, deliverables and resources, and budgets.
#2 - Engage People: While digital transformation that has a committed leadership and engaged middle management has a significantly higher success rate, involvement of all stakeholders and employees across all levels is equally important. The organisation needs to provide support to employees, to allay both personal and professional fears.
#3 - Manage organisational change: A majority of transformations fail due to lack of change management. There are many factors that can be attributed to this - lack of participation and involvement from employees, under-communication, lack of transparency or fatigue from constant change. A solid change management strategy, that identifies priorities, milestones and organisational cultural changes, is needed. Celebrate early victories to keep people energised. Define ownership for all digital transformation initiatives, and devise an effective internal communication strategy.
#4 - Relook at talent acquisition and management: Digital transformations require rethinking of business processes, digital literacy and resilience to change. Companies need to publish expectations from employees during this crucial period. Employees are required to adapt to new situations and become digitally adept. Roles may need to be redefined. If the company cannot find resources within the organisation, they need to hire new talent that will fill the gaps. Freelancers and contract workers can fill short-term skill shortages.
#5 - Invest in a robust tech and data platform: The technology platform should be flexible, modular, scalable, and adaptable. Both tech and data platforms* need to be aligned with overall digital strategy. Democratise data so that it is accessible across the organisation and build platforms that can access this data seamlessly. Use analytics platforms that can aggregate data from multiple sources to track and monitor progress automatically. Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics for digital transformation initiatives. Transparency is key to digital transformation success. Tracking and monitoring progress helps understand pain points and resolve issues.
A holistic approach that involves people, process and technology is necessary for successful digital transformation. Business leaders need to define digital transformation strategies with a focus on business outcomes. A robust tech and data infrastructure and participation of all stakeholders is essential, as is monitoring progress with quantifiable performance indicators to demonstrate ROI.
*For organizations on the digital transformation journey, agility is key in responding to a rapidly changing technology and business landscape. Now more than ever, it is crucial to deliver and. Enabling businesses to sense, learn, respond, and evolve like a living organism, will be imperative for business excellence going forward. A comprehensive, yet modular suite of services is doing exactly that. Equipping organizations with intuitive decision-making automatically at scale, actionable insights based on real-time solutions, anytime/anywhere experience, and in-depth data visibility across functions leading to hyper-productivity, Live Enterprise is building connected organizations that are innovating collaboratively for the future.