Real Digital Transformation Begins with Strategy - NOT Luck

Business leaders worldwide are putting big bucks into digital transformation. A report by IDC predicts that by the end of 2019, spending for digital transformation will reach $1.7 trillion worldwide—up 42% from 2017. But many organizations struggle to find their way.

One of the biggest problems is many companies take a “luck of the Irish” approach, throwing gobs of money and technology at digital transformation and hoping they’ll get lucky. However, without a sound strategy, they probably won’t find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

The tips below will help you understand what to do—and what not to do—to transform your organization into one that embraces new technologies as a way to work better and deliver maximum value to customers.

When Digital Transformation Fails to Transform

According to research by Couchbase, 80% of IT leaders are under pressure to constantly improve digital transformation through technical innovation, yet 90% of digital projects fail to meet expectations and deliver only incremental improvements. Why?

  • Leaders lack strategy and vision. Without insight into and consensus about why digital transformation is important, it’s impossible to develop a consistent, well-informed strategy. A lack of active support and leadership from the board and C-Suite also is a harbinger of failure.
  • Employees aren’t prepared. Forty-three percent of 4,500 CIOs surveyed for the 2017 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO surveycited resistance to change as the biggest stumbling block. Failure to provide support (such as training) for key stakeholders will prevent a digital transformation culture shift.
  • Planning is inadequate. Ill-defined plans result in indecision, which slows down the pace of progress and impedes the ability to meet short- and long-term financial goals. The resulting delays in achieving ROI can derail the entire process.
  • Under-resourced digital transformation teams are rushed. A shortage of expert IT staff can lead to risky shortcuts, such as adding new technologies piecemeal rather than sticking to a comprehensive approach, or becoming an IT silo, speeding up development but failing to engage non-IT stakeholders.

5 Essential Steps for Digital Transformation Success

Now that we know what causes failure, here are some key strategies for successfully transforming your company into a digitally-driven organization:

  1. Establish a customer-centric strategy. Ask what’s important to your external and internal customers. The answers will generate a cohesive vision, guide strategic planning and set priorities.  
  2. Get active top-down support. Transformation starts at the very top, with the entire C-suite communicating the vision and modeling a transformative mindset throughout the organization.  
  3. Reduce internal resistance. Acknowledge employee concerns about change. Introduce new digital procedures and technologies with care, integrating them with existing operations. Provide the tangible support needed to achieve employee buy-in and readiness.
  4. Monitor and measure. Involve employees early on, setting guidelines, communicating clear expectations and providing ongoing feedback. Establish and monitor metrics that align with customer-centric objectives.
  5. Establish your digital transformation team and budget. Provide or hire a dedicated, expert team using internal and/or external resources. Also, give digital transformation a dedicated budget to get efforts off the ground and provide funding for ongoing planning and development.

For organizations to thrive in an evolving digital environment, digital transformation must occur sooner rather than later. Luck won’t get you there, but with the right strategy and people, you’ll be off to a great start.


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Want to learn more? Download this informative white paper from Cisco and ZK Research: Digital Transformation Services Are Critical To Business Success



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