Digital transformation has been creeping its way into more and more headlines over the past few years. As start-ups pop up on every corner, whilst the antiquated spectacularly implode, those in the middle are left wondering what the future holds and how to get there.
We are of course already in the digital age, and have been for a while. The term ‘digital transformation’ itself spans a very wide remit. As we’re all fairly confident with ‘digital’ broadly meaning any connective technology, ‘transformation’ is where we should focus. ‘Transformation’ is a very bold term, various definitions include: ‘complete change’, ‘marked change’, ‘major change’, ‘…especially a radical one’. Pairing the two, it’s clear to see this is, and should be, something at the forefront of every business’s plan.
Digital transformation is about reviewing your business processes from top to bottom, having a vision of what you’re aiming for and the buy-in to achieve it. Although we’d like to think it’s all about the technology, in reality it’s also a question of organisational structure, talent, services, people management, products and more.
Technologically, transformation has been bolstered by the adoption of cloud for flexibility and accessibility, the ability to automate processes, desktop transformation and workspace management. This has all led to the enablement of the workforce.
Take a step back, review, organise and strategise
Over the years’, it’s likely that policies have been added, amended, and piled on top of more policies, making unravelling your business step one of your journey. When you multiply this by the number of departments or silos, you could be looking at a minefield.
Use the excuse to start again.
Start-ups in the digital era have the luxury of implementing agile, remote, evolving working styles from day one. They are devising a strategy and culture from the ground up, not remoulding and reinventing. They may be able to rapidly portray a sleek, scalable presence, but don’t disregard the competitive assets within a legacy business. Experience and knowledge can go a long way to ensuring your continued success.
Consider the importance of culture and language within your transformation
Digital transformation requires buy-in from the board to the intern. Traditionally, the higher up the company, the less engaged in the day to day, and therefore the more detached the person. Dictating changes without involving multiple stakeholders can make the process a fractious one. Taking a more holistic approach, considering the language used as a ‘soft’ signal for starting to make changes and encouraging openness are all ways to work towards a smooth transition.
Cultural transformation is the hardest aspect of digital transformation. Some individuals or whole departments will be lifted outside of their comfort zone. Giving them the freedom and permission to fail in the new environment is vital for learning and adoption. Evolving a business is an inclusive process, not just the job of the CIO or Chief Digital Officer. It does however take someone (or a team) to lead, drive and instigate the process. Clarifying this leadership is step one.
Be in a state of perpetual momentum
Having a vision of where you’re heading gives a real reason for instigating digital transformation. Aimlessly making changes leads to confusion and uncertainty. That vision doesn’t just end, it’s a continually moving, growing and adaptive process; a constant state of change.
We’ve been being digitally disrupted since technology first made its way into businesses, it’s nothing new. Digital transformation has come about as technology has gradually filtered its way into most aspects of our lives; it naturally affects different industries in different ways. Recognising and responding to this is about identifying where you could gain and where you might be lacking. Your internal roadmap should continually assess the ways people use and interact with technology and the digital workplace.
It might not be all about technology, but it does help
To enable success, everyone must have the infrastructure and support behind them to achieve. IT play a vital role in this, researching and exploring emerging technologies to allow adaptive, fluid solutions which maintain security and control. It’s worth bearing in mind, that as a cross department consideration, the budgetary onus shouldn’t be solely on IT. Technology will facilitate the processes and developments instilled throughout an organisation.
IT should be involved from the initial conversation and continually thereafter. Although nothing is guaranteed, being forward thinking and driving digital transformation can help increase the longevity and competitiveness of your business on the global stage.