Digital transformation does not happen with one size fits all approach. Companies have to be thoroughly prepared for holistic integration considering their own specific business needs. CEOs and CIOs need to have a definitive strategy in place to bring together all aspects of their business up to speed to meet rising consumer demands and stay relevant. Here’s a guide for devising a digital transformation strategy in 7 steps.

Review your current situation

Identify the needs of your business the way it presently stands. It’s a survival issue, not a choice in today’s world. Ask the following questions:

  • Does my business need to change to withstand the competition?
  • Could there be more avenues for revenue generation?
  • What’s the market demand?
  • What goals do you want to achieve in the business plan that can be met with digital transformation?

Digital transformation takes on different forms within varied sectors and companies. But the journey begins with taking stock of where your company stands in the current market and where it’s headed in the future. It would be ideal to review your 5-10 year business plan and understand the problems you have that can be solved with a realistic and clear digital transformation policy. 

Identify the business processes that need transformation

An organisation needs to strategize digital transformation in a way that business continuity is not affected while you’re giving it a digital makeover. A business should reassess all workflows, departmental operations, rules, and procedures to earmark systems that need to be reinvented with a digital infusion. For instance, if you’re in the manufacturing process, you can upgrade production by using AI-powered assistants or if you’re using traditional methods of data storage, you can move to the cloud. These are only basic examples. More complex transformation involves an elaborate digital transition strategy from old school frameworks to lean and automated organizational structures. The four areas that fall under a digital transformation strategy are business processes, operational models, domain, and culture change. Companies should focus on all areas that require to be rehauled with digital conversion. Wherever there is a possibility of introducing analytics, digital enterprise resource planning platforms, productivity tools, and technologies, the company should plan a roadmap and bring in the right vendors and partners with the goal of fleshing out a practical digital transformation strategy. Dysfunctional or conflicting systems should be replaced with simple automation for operational agility.

Instill a culture change in your organization

Digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight by incorporating new technologies in the business. The workforce of a company is responsible for enabling a successful digital transformation. Employees should be encouraged to become resilient and adaptable throughout the transition. Culture change imperatives include customer-centric approaches. Employees should be empowered to make decisions based on data and apply real-time solutions. Teams should be brought out of silos to perform cross-functional roles and trained to use technologies and tools to enhance optimum performance through collaboration. Instead of choking individual strengths, they should be encouraged to experiment with new ideas and innovative ways to reach shared goals. Swift communication among teams and co-ordinated efforts to remove bottlenecks should be given precedence over disparate functioning of various departments.

Align goals across the board

It’s crucial to align the hearts and minds of all stakeholders, from the frontline employees to the C-suite execs. Shared goals should be more important than personal clashes. Top-level leaders should be open to communicating the end goals of the organization. More importantly, the importance of digital transformation should be justified by presenting a strong case that makes the stakeholders believe that it benefits their aspirations as well as the company’s vision. The behavioral change can be accomplished by constant collaboration, experimental techniques/concepts, open channels for communication, a fresh influx of talent, merit-based incentives, and maintaining the positive momentum. Leaders must lead by example and initiate transparency and accountability in their practices. 

Build a digital transformation dream team

Appointing a Chief Digital Officer is the right approach to lead the entire transformation so that there’s complete accountability from the top, setting the right tone for the rest of the workforce. Identify the talent pool that has the capabilities of achieving desired results by figuring out if there are enough resources within teams or if there’s a need to bring in people from outside organizations or agencies. Include people from different verticals and skillsets to get a good amalgam of ideas and perspectives. The core team should not only implement the plan within set deadlines but a

lso work towards upskilling and training the workforce to accommodate incoming technological changes. The team should have developers, IT professionals, tech enthusiasts, digital natives, and employees who have championed digital adoption from the front.

Choose the right tools and technologies

Apart from ERPs, companies can explore different types of digital platforms and tools, including mobile, IoT, cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, big data analytics, AR/VR, among others. Collaboration and meeting tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, G suite, Skype, etc, should be incorporated in day to day activities so that physical space is not a constraint. Companies should also explore the CMS (Content Management System) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools.

Monitor, review, update

The digital transformation process can be planned into stages, each stage being monitored with real-time data and analysis. It’s important to measure how the company is being reshaped and if all the milestones are being achieved. Different parameters and metrics should include factors like increase in productivity, several avenues and sources from which performance data is gathered, the amount of investment vs ROI, the time taken to establish the framework vs the originally expected timeframe, among others.

Organizations looking for successful and sustainable digital transformation should also make a risk assessment and secure and strengthen the building blocks in a way that the business can survive market chaos with flexibility and responsiveness. Picking the right partners and creating a collaborative environment within and without is a key factor in accomplishing the full-fledged digital transformation.