Business Strategy

3 Keys to Digital Transformation Success

March 1, 2019

  • Alex Bratton

I’m just returning from a Digital Transformation (DT) conference that brought together a wide range of digital leaders and put a hard spotlight on what it takes to be successful with DT. I wanted to share the most common key drivers amongst the speakers, panelists and attendees when talking about their digital transformation efforts.

Digital transformation must be led from the top

The group was loud and clear that the CEO must be the champion for digital transformation and can’t delegate that responsibility. Of course they’ll have a digital leader running with things (often not in the IT organization), but that leader needs air cover from the CEO to break down walls and get past the blockers (both people and processes) that will constantly try to stifle the efforts because they’re not the way things have been done before. The CEO must live the digital change themselves as an example to the organization. So yes, it’s time to start firing up those mobile tools and figuring out how to run the business from your iPhone.

Human focus is critical

Every company says they’re focusing on delivering new experiences but most really don’t know what that means. There is a lot of applying the ‘shiny’ to existing processes and tools, which isn’t what digital transformation is all about. DT requires really understanding the people we’re serving. It means going beyond focus groups and actually walking in their shoes to live their desires and challenges. What are they trying to actually do? Where are they when that happens? What is their emotional state? What else is going on in their environment at the same time, both digitally and physically? The buzzword ‘user research’ has been abused by most of the digital industry to frequently mean asking people ‘what they want’ and bypassing the hard work of real understanding.

Once we understand those motivations and drivers, we can dig into the workflows and processes. Digitizing a bad paper experience isn’t going to make it any better. How can we wrap technology around that person to deliver what they need in a fluid, engaging and exciting experience? That’s the key to delivering real value.

We have to put people at the center of the picture to be successful.

Digital transformation has to include both customers and employees

Every single company’s description of their digital transformation leads with what they are doing for their customers and how they are looking to reinvent that relationship and experience. A few companies then mention, almost as an after thought, things they’re doing for their employees. There is a disconnect on the amount of resources put into delivering DT for customers vs. employees and it needs to be rebalanced to more deeply address the DT needs of our own teams.

Our employees often deliver a majority of our customer experiences, so we’d better be serving them as well or better than our customers. Organizations with cultures focused on taking care of their own employees with an expectation they will then in turn take care of their customers are typically already the leaders in their industries or fast heading that direction.

We need to include our employees as a major part of digital transformation efforts.

Digital transformation is opening up new growth opportunities, driving new revenue and new channels for reaching customers. DT requires CEO involvement and a real focus on people, both customers and our employees to successfully deliver on that potential.