The safe way to step into the digital transformation

The safe way to step into the digital transformation
November 1, 2016  |  BY

Digital transformation has been a hot topic for a handful of years now. We’ve all heard the talk: All of this new technology has changed how people behave and what they expect. If your company doesn’t undergo a digital transformation, you’re history.

Like most trends, digital transformation lives on a spectrum with truth on one end, hype on the other end. But wherever your perception falls, digital transformation is indeed a real issue that all companies must consider for their long-term health. After all, by definition, digital transformation allows organizations to improve their activities, processes and models by leveraging digital technologies.

Conceptually it all sounds fine and dandy. But how do you safely step into the all-digital business universe?

Set realistic goals
It’s easy to get caught up in grand visions of sci-fi type change across the organization. It seems so simple: buy boatloads of new digital technology and shazam, overnight your company runs with a 10,000% improvement in efficiency.

Let’s be real. The smarter goal is to start small, with a project that’s likely to succeed and can demonstrate practical results to all stakeholders. What can do you to get a product to market faster? To improve customer service? To enable better collaboration? Also, consider how you can transform web and mobile applications, which can allow you to quickly show the impact on revenue and profits.

Whatever you do, keep in mind that any kind of transformation is an ongoing activity; it doesn’t end once you complete a project. Accordingly, develop an IT culture where you can adjust and refine based on the data.

Blend the old with the new
Beyond choosing the right project, success is determined, in large part, by the actual team you have working on the project. Like any other initiative, you need enthusiastic people who bring a spirit of innovation.

IT departments typically have two camps – the people who have been around for a while and know every detail about the company’s systems, and new employees who aren’t yet biased to one particular way of thinking. Create a digital transformation team – or teams – that combine both. The veterans bring knowledge of the legacy systems while the recent additions bring a fresh perspective.

Go with the cloud
The cloud offers an amazing amount of advantages for day-to-day operations. Those advantages extend to digital transformation projects. We suggest choosing AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, or IBM Bluemix. Each platform comes with the services you need, and the self-service component creates the efficiencies necessary to keep the project moving smoothly.

Also, the cloud allows you to easily assess the performance of your digital transformation. All of the cloud platforms we mentioned above include data technologies, so you can develop a deeper understanding of transactions, product data, pricing information, user activity, marketing programs and more. Not only will this insight help you measure success, you can use objective data to prove what’s working and what needs fixing.

Create a culture of transformation
On the surface, digital transformation is about improving how you do business, both externally with customers and internally with employees. But in the big picture, digital transformation is really an organizational transformation.

You need to pull together the disparate silos and develop a cohesive culture – one where everyone’s aligned about the rationale and goals for the transformation. As such, it’s imperative that you appoint a team of advocates who can steer the company to this new way of thinking and generate authentic buy-in.

Don’t wait to start the transformation. Your customers and employees are waiting. And so are your lower costs and higher profits.