Everywhere people turn there are digital transformation projects popping up and people being given the shiny new title of digital transformation officer. But let’s get one thing straight: what these businesses are attempting to do isn’t really about digital first and foremost. It’s actually about the necessity of transforming their business model.
This is really hard stuff though, particularly for legacy businesses and it’s why, all too often, the problem is pushed to the edge of the business through the creation of a digital transformation team. It’s the wrong approach as it’s akin to burying your head in the sand and hoping a problem will go away.
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Here are five simple steps to help ensure you drive the type of digital transformation that will also transform your business.
1) Get real
The first and most important step is to be realistic about what can and can’t be changed. Every business is at a different stage of evolution and you need to be clear about where your own organisation currently sits.
Evaluate what skills you have in house, determine where the gaps are, be clear on what is already working and what is not. To draw an analogy, if you were about to train for a marathon, you’d work out how fit you were for it and gauge how much training is needed before the day of the race!
2) Set goals and communicate them
Once you understand your starting point, the highest levels of the organisation needs to be clear on what they want to achieve. Is it to reinvent the business completely? Be faster to market? Transform the customer experience?
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This can’t be left to a team outside the business’s strategic core. Instead, set up a transformation team that is empowered to drive the right strategy towards clear KPIs. Then be very directive by telling your employees why and how you are going to transform. And, most crucially, make sure they understand their role within it.
3) Cultural change that drives transformation
The biggest challenge with transformation is the employees’ ability to cope with change. So accept immediately that some of your people won’t manage to cope with the transformation and they are therefore probably not right long term for the business.
The good news is that a significant majority of your people will be motivated and excited about how the business is changing. However, they need to see the change in culture and process to reflect how the business is changing.
And that needs to come from the top with strong, executive communication (in fact over communication is no bad thing!); leadership needs to stress why change is happening and how it will succeed. Just as importantly, practices and processes also need to evolve. Words alone will not be enough to change a culture from the ‘old way’ to the ‘new way’.
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4) Be symbolic to prove you are serious
In any change process, certain things need to happen that symbolise the change and herald a departure from the past. For example: the appointment of a totally new manager to represent the change that is happening. Or changing staff incentive schemes to match the new direction. I’ve even seen some organisations change their dress code to reflect the kind of business they want to become.
5) Measure, measure and then measure some more
The challenge with change is that it needs to be continual. After all, reinvention doesn’t happen overnight and it certainly isn’t a finite process. But understanding, and measuring, the progress of transformation can only happen if you regularly review progress on your initial KPIs.
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Be rigorous and honest about how you are performing against those KPIs; what’s working and what’s not. Where can you speed up and where may you need to slow down. And, as ever, communicate this back to the business so that everyone understands where on the journey the business currently is.
Success in today’s economy is predicated on one thing: the ability to transform quickly and efficiently to meet competitive pressures and satisfy customer need. Cope with this pressure and you have a strong change to drive growth.
Shy away from it or fail to address it and your business will struggle. The five simple steps above provide you with a framework to have at worst a fighting chance of being successful, and at best a foundation for true digital business transformation.
Related: What is digital transformation in business: Everything you need to know
Sourced by Rob Mellor, GM for UK, Mainland Europe and EMEA, WhereScape