Digital transformation is no longer an option for companies to survive in the 21st century. This future, driven by an unprecedented speed of technological change, is concretely here. As a senior executive you are required to take ownership of this evolution or risk the extinction of your business. That’s why a strong digital transformation strategy is a must for your business to stay competitive.
You may understand your duty in this changing environment, yet creating the scope, approach and roadmap for a digital transformation can feel like a daunting task. You or your executive team may not have the digital literacy required to make sense of the accelerating pace of innovation that is fundamentally altering business and society.
This is not an uncommon concern. Global consulting firm Protiviti found in a recent report that CEOs, Directors, and Senior Executives rate digital transformation as their number one concern in 2019. KPMG also concluded from a recent survey of nearly 200 C-suite executives that digital transformation remains the very top concern of Australia’s business leaders as they begin 2020.
What underpins this fear is that you do not want to be the next big company to go out of business because you could not adapt to changing conditions. You notice your competitors have managed to implement digital tools company-wide in a strategic manner to increase efficiency, customer satisfaction, and talent retention.
But how can you guarantee your company will implement digital tools, and have the same or better success than your competitors?
The potential of digital transformation is huge, but like any transformation, it comes down to execution. It is easy to fall into the trap of romanticising about the latest technology as panacea and underestimate the challenge of mindset and cultural transformation needed for digital transformation.
Below are three critical actions you can implement right now to ensure a sustainable digital transformation strategy for your company.
1. Be Clear on Your Strategy
A successful digital transformation is an integrated solution that combines technology, procedures and the people who interact with and are impacted by the system. It is vital that senior leaders are aligned and clear on their organisational strategy first.
Technology will keep on changing. If you focus on technology and not on problems, you will always end up chasing technology without any concrete solutions to your company’s original challenges.
After you have a clear understanding of the problems and challenges you wish for a technology to solve, you are ready to look at why you want to adopt a digital transformation.
Some reasons for a digital transformation include:
Although a digital transformation will impact your company’s organisational strategy and ultimately your product or service, technology is a tool, not a complete solution. Do not let decisions for digital transformation be taken as a reaction to a problem. Ensure strategy and planning occurs first.
2. Practice a Healthy Implement vs.
Being in a constant state of consumption can result in the risk of not spending enough time implementing a digital transformation strategy.
Are you constantly reading up on the latest trends in technologies and what technologies are being implemented by your competitors?
While it is good to keep a keen eye on market research and insights, do not fall into the trap of consuming more than implementing. Over consumption of information will lead you to making purchasing decisions based on the best technologies out there, and not what helps meet your specific strategic goals. Business leaders need to distinguish tech hype from reality. Failure of using technology adequately will lead to the failure of your company’s digital transformation strategy.
In a world that is just one google search away from learning anything, you can easily get overwhelmed and give up on new business goals, even before taking the first step to start.
3. Create the Right Team for Digital Transformation
Quite often companies prioritise budgets for cutting edge digital tools required for digital transformation and do not give enough attention to the capability required for execution.
This was one of the reasons why the BBC had to shut down its ambitious digital transformation project, the Digital Media Initiative, writing off £98.3 million in unusable technology assets in 2008.
According to the report conducted by PwC, the main reasons for this failure were:
- Weaknesses in leadership
- Lack of executive steering board to provide project oversight
- No robust governance structure to deal with project complexities
In creating your digital transformation strategy, you may come to realise your organisation is not structured for the change and agility required to implement a digital transformation strategy. You’re not alone.
Digital transformations can be complex and challenging. Therefore, you require a team with an innovative mindset to understand how things can be done differently, how employees' ideas can be leveraged and innovative ways of keeping morale high during times of significant change.
Here are three characteristics to look for when building a strong capable team to implement your digital transformation strategy:
Team Trait #1: Sense of Clear Purpose
Choose people who can get to the crux of the reason for digital transformation. Rather than implementing digital tools for the sake of saying your company is ‘digitized,’ your digital transformation team will able to communicate to the rest of the company the specific strategic goals for the implementation of new technology.
Not only is it important for your digital transformation team to recognise the present benefits of change, you want team members who see the long-term vision for the digital transformation. They understand the digital transformation will continue to provide company-wide benefits, a strong competitive edge and a more productive place to work well into the future.
Team Trait #2: Collaborative Mindset
Your digital transformation team must understand that transformation does not occur in isolation involving only the senior executive team driving decisions. This collaborative mindset is important to ensure that every voice in your organisation is heard and leveraged.
Employees want to be part of the bigger picture. They like helping with company challenges, as they feel it helps to advance their role and adds more meaning to their work. Leaving the knowledge of workers out of the transformation process can create a culture that does not foster collaboration and could lead to projects not being fully optimised.
Team Trait #3: Approachable and Open Nature
To ensure that a collaborative spirit is established, your transformation team needs to be highly approachable and open to hearing the challenges of individuals and teams. It is important to recognise that transformations can be an emotional process for the organisation.
Leaders need to ensure employees understand that they are all ears. If you do not involve the people in your organisation that care about your company and want it to change for the better, they are going to walk away to somewhere that cares about their views.
Are You Ready to Build a Long-Term Competitive Advantage?
Digital transformation is a fact. It continues to change every industry in ways seen and unseen. Those who have adopted modern emerging digital technologies are successfully taking the lead in delivering customer experiences and loyalty.
As a senior executive, it is now your job to ensure your company stays out ahead of technology and uses it to ensure your organisation’s success.
SMA Consulting understands each organisation’s case is different. We leverage best practices and learnings in our approach to finding the best solution for your company and your unique mix of circumstances, as well as the needs of your stakeholders, employees and customers.
If you are ready to innovate and transform the performance of your business and are looking for more than just a one-size-fits-all solution, discover how we can work together to solve your business challenges.