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How to make the most out of your digital transformation

Transformative change demands decisive action. As long as you understand the common mistakes and how to avoid them, you should be ready.
Daniel Zacharias

Jovana Stankovic

October 16, 2023
Successful digital transformation

If you’re about to start your digital transformation, dear reader, beware. You are entering uncharted territories. The chances of success are low. Very low. Most sources agree that over 70% of digital transformation projects will fail. That’s almost three-quarters going down the drain. Not precisely what you’d want to hear when considering a new move for your company, right?

Well, you need to put things into perspective. Is it really as bad as all that? Should you just give up? Not quite. Transformative change demands decisive action. As long as you understand the common mistakes (and know how to avoid them), you should be ready for the future. So let’s find a way to build a digital transformation strategy that works!

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation is a process of embedding technology across an organization, revolutionizing how it operates and serves its customers. It’s like turning a manual bicycle into a high-speed electric one — a way to adapt to the modern world. The implementation of a strong digital transformation strategy can help you amplify productivity, innovation, and agility.

Why do so many attempts fail?

I’ve already mentioned the impressive amount of digital transformation processes that fall short of their objectives. But, what are the main reasons? While it’s impossible to list them all, here are the most common culprits:

  • Absence of clear goals and shared vision.
  • Old management strategies hampering operational agility.
  • Internal resistance to change.
  • Poor understanding of stakeholders.
  • Insufficient emphasis on cybersecurity and legal compliance.
  • Lack of commitment to continuous improvement.

The steps for building a robust digital transformation strategy

While this article may initially sound like all doom and gloom, this couldn’t be further from the truth. We firmly believe that every problem has its solution so we’re very much ready to offer a few ideas that will set you on the right path to success.

1. Know what you want and stick to it

It’s surprising how often even the most experienced managers skip this part. Yet it’s the foundation for building an effective digital transformation strategy. Don’t simply commit to change in the broadest sense of the word. That won’t do. Establish clearly defined goals and know what exactly it is you want to achieve.

The trick is to link your transformation ideas to your overall business strategy across your organization. Do you wish to increase the number of new users or customers? Boost operations efficiency? Increase revenue? Each goal has to work in harmony with your other operations.

2. Transform your outlook on management

Speaking of which, there’s no denying that poor management can hamper or completely halt operational agility. Is everyone on your team on the same page? If not, make sure you communicate your vision clearly.

On a more technical note, when building a digital transformation strategy, always beware of poor processes. Don’t digitize your operations as they are without a second thought. A poorly designed workflow will only get worse once ported to the digital format. Instead, review and see how things can truly improve through collaboration and feedback. Enterprise crowdsourcing of information and mass collaboration will help you determine where fundamental improvements are sorely needed.

3. Invest in the people

It’s essential to remember that your people are the lifeline of any transformation. However, as you progress, you’ll find that some may be reluctant to embrace change. This is where your willingness to listen and share knowledge comes into play. Your job is to educate and build corporate digital literacy. Provide team members with training opportunities and allow them to acquire the necessary skills. In return, you’re likely to see an increase in loyalty.

Another way to mitigate resistance to change is to leverage data to understand how you can influence your team’s behaviors. A medium-sized or large business can greatly benefit from an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. It allows you to monitor performance and find room for improvement.

All of the above puts emphasis on nurturing your existing team. Of course, sometimes, you’ll have to bring in some fresh talent. If this is a part of your digital transformation strategy, make sure you offer a smooth recruitment and onboarding process. In many cases, outsourcing to Software Delivery Teams or even looking to Staff Augmentation is the better option though.

4. Know thy customer

So far, we have covered ways to increase business efficiency, consistency, and employee satisfaction. All those are internal matters. In order for your digital transformation strategy to work, you’ll also need to be more outward-looking. Think of your users, clients, or customers. We’re not talking just about narrowly defined industries such as mobile app development or e-commerce. Any other niche can benefit from this approach.

The goal of this step is to understand customer behavior. Always do your research. Learn what their needs are and how you can meet them. Don’t shy away from analytics tools. Find ways to improve their journey by removing friction that would otherwise make them leave your sales funnel empty.

Furthermore, you should try to avoid the risk of sticking to the same old. Don’t put all your digital eggs in one basket. Consider diversifying your tech implementation efforts. Try different approaches, think about the impact of diverse technologies in a wide array of client-facing instances, such as when they first buy something from you or when they have a complaint.

5. Stay safe

Anyone dealing with hardware or software will know that the minute you build something new, you’re unknowingly opening new ways to suffer cyber-attacks. Bear this in mind when crafting your digital transformation strategy. Don’t rely solely on regular software engineers. Include some cybersecurity specialists in your crew as well.

Rely on their expertise to provide a security framework for the whole transformation process. Cybersecurity experts can help you decide which technology is best for your goals, how to best implement it, and what training your team will need to undergo to take full advantage of it. These experts can also conduct a risk assessment to implement access controls, encryption, vulnerability scans, and monitoring in your existing and new infrastructure. 

Of course, we can’t discuss digital safety without touching upon compliance. Is the new software and hardware you’re introducing into the organization able to follow relevant data protection laws? Take the time to familiarize yourself with the standards and develop consistent policies. It’s also good to conduct regular data audits, implement data protection measures, and regularly review your practices.

6. Don’t be afraid to continue growing

The thing with any digital transformation strategy is that it’s never a ‘one and done’ scenario. You don’t simply switch things up and then stick to the same operations forever. It requires constant reinvention and continuous improvement to meet changing circumstances or customer behavior.

The same goes for growth. Over time, your enterprise is bound to accumulate content and resources. With a bit of luck, your online traffic will also soar. This is why it’s important to build digital solutions that allow scalability — to satisfy your earliest needs but also meet future ones. Everything ought to be adaptable, up-to-date, and easy to migrate to meet the growth of infrastructure, user base, and income.

It’s morphin time!

A high failure rate shouldn’t discourage you from pursuing the path of operational metamorphosis. A robust digital transformation strategy will address the most common obstacles and help you overcome them.

This strategy should include clear goals, a shared vision, a dynamic management strategy, and a commitment to educating and uplifting your entire team. You also need to make an effort to understand your target audience — and keep safety, security, and compliance in check.

Yes, it’s a continuous effort but one that will augment your chances of success and let your organization thrive in the era of digital acceleration.

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