We have spent some time discussing the process of digital transformation and its benefits for business. It is time now to dive into action.
How do I start the digital transformation process? Where do I begin? How many people do I need? What are the obstacles to creating a solid digital transformation framework in my organization?
Here come the answers you are looking for.
1. Starting with digital transformation
- 1.1 Establishing a data-driven culture
- 1.2 Fostering collaboration
- 1.3 Prioritizing the needs
2. Obstacles to digital transformation
- 2.1 Budgeting
- 2.2 Complex infrastructure
- 2.3 Lack of skilled personnel
- 2.4 Resistance to change
Starting with digital transformation
Several things to remember here:
- Digital transformation is a long-term process. Do not rush it or expect immediate results.
- Digital transformation is a change. Changes are scary. Support your team and they will support you back.
- One thing at a time. Take it slow, reassess the needs frequently, and adjust the process accordingly.
Data is critical for digital transformation. Any digital transformation framework should start with assessing the available data and migrating the historical data to new systems. 85% of businesses fail to effectively leverage the existing data for their digital transformation strategy.
Ideally, for a company-wide business transformation, the data should be clean and complete for all critical fields, clear with no duplications, reliable, and up to date. Most of the time, businesses do not fulfill all conditions, which often results in stalling the digital transformation projects and redoing the work multiple times. Input error and lack of input consistency are some of the top ingredients for a lack of data quality.
Digital transformation is about transforming the way the organization works, to make it more efficient and successful. The process should benefit both, the company and the customer.
Not much innovation is possible if the company operations are outdated and data is not connected. The process starts with enabling your people to do their jobs in the most effective way. For that idea to succeed, teams need to collaborate.
A digital transformation strategy connects sales teams to marketing teams to operations teams and so on. Transforming one particular team is not a viable option when all other teams work with outdated software or process.
Through encouraging teams to collaborate on transformational projects and define their needs and struggles, businesses can drive the organizational change. Employees become more aware of the processes and more engaged in transforming their work experience when they know both them and their peers would benefit.
Prioritizing the needs
Needs of the business. Needs of the data team. Needs of customers. Digital transformation encompasses all of those needs, and thus requires a clear roadmap prioritizing the objectives.
The next steps lie around defining hypotheses and setting priorities. Does the business have the capability to drive the digital transformation? Does the current state of data allow for the digitization of processes? Often these questions require help from the outside to be answered.
Develop a roadmap with prioritized tasks, the impact these tasks would ideally have and the respective KPIs. Choose a Digital Leadership Role to drive the change and keep track of the process. The person in charge should have the skillset for digital transformation and the business knowledge required in your domain. This person is the connecting element between what you are changing and what benefits it will bring. It is easy to get lost in “all things digital” and race for complex and unnecessary changes.
Digital transformation implies many challenges along the way, some of which are impossible to predict. Making a detailed budget before understanding the realities of the process is mistake #1. There will be adjustments along the way, that will require a lot more time and money than expected, and sometimes visa versa. Having a strategic direction and a sense of required resources allows for a flexible budget, that will need to fluctuate over time.
Instead of trying to develop a complete roadmap and flushing it down the toilet a month later, divide the digital transformation strategy into smaller “projects”. Working in sprints and developing a detailed plan for the current sprint only (while maintaining the general long-term transformational strategy) will save time in adjustments and eliminate the stress of spending.
Lack of skilled personnel
It is not a surprise that digital talent is hard to find. Considering the speed of digital innovation and market fluctuations, the talent from within is often not enough to make digital transformation work.
One way to go about it is to prioritize the digital talent needs – what needs to be done and who is best positioned to do it, whether in the organization or outside. One highly skilled and motivated employee can successfully promote change in the organization and lead the digital team to success.
Alternatively, it makes sense to invest in a highly fluid learner inside the organization – the person may not have all the required skills but is eager to learn and implement new knowledge. Employees like this are a real treasure in the company, and investing in their education is always a good idea anyway.
Digital transformation implies a rapid pace of change, which though may excite some employees, usually holds the majority in a stressful and fatigued state. People are resistant to change, but they also adapt to it quite fast. While this being human nature, and there is not much to do about it, these actions can make the transition process easier.
- Training and support. To some, digitization comes naturally, others need to work on accepting the new data-driven mindset. Conduct specialized training for employees, ensure their understanding of the new processes through feedback sessions. People are more prone to ask questions when they know they have someone to ask, a so-called support group, which can be a person, a chat, or just a one-on-one meeting to answer any questions.
- Transparent communication. If you are not engaging in the digital transformation of the business to make your organization better, there is no point in wasting resources on it. Agree? Then explain this to your people. Justify every process change. Does it increase sales efficiency? That means your sales team will bring more business with less effort, which means more bonuses for them. Does digital transformation improve customer experience? Then your CX teams will have better time communication with customers and marketing will have more data to base the campaigns on. These are real advantages to business, and they are as important to your employees as they are to you. Chances are, these facts will make them more open to changes.
”If you are not engaging in the digital transformation of the business to make your organization better, there is no point in wasting resources on it… Justify every process change.”
- Keeping track of changes and results. Make sure everyone in the organization has access to this information. Knowing who is responsible for a certain change project gives a sense of stability – there is a real person behind this process who knows it inside out. Employees will know they can address their questions to this project manager at any time. Keeping track of results presents a clear project timeline and a good estimation of what a similar project will take in a different department. Results also justify the means, showing the worried employees what exactly was accomplished and how it made their lives better/easier (it better does either one or another).