It seems no industry is being left untouched by the advances in digital technology. More and more businesses are choosing to tear up the handbook and making large-scale efforts to reap the rewards of a digital transformation. But it’s not a case of jumping ship and expecting steady waters, with many companies finding that success in their transformations remains out of reach.
Any transformation is going to be a challenge and this is certainly going to be the case with a digital one. To keep your competitors at bay, it’s best to break things down into five main categories:
- Capacity building
- Worker empowerment
- Upgrading tools
Even when some initial success is seen, sustaining that success is a different thing all together. Perhaps naturally, the bigger the company, the more difficult things can prove to be, even though the list above should always remain relevant.
The anatomy of digital transformations
Companies can look inward when making the digital change, such as digitizing their operating model. In addition, they might be choosing to launch new products or alter how they interact with external partners through digital channels. Either way, the general trend is for digital transformations to be wide in scope, involving multiple functions or business units or the whole enterprise.
It’s often a case of the more the better, with successful transformations involving a higher number of new technologies than unsuccessful ones. Just be sure to keep the hurdles upright by adopting more sophisticated technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and advanced neural machine-learning techniques.
Let’s now go back and take a closer look at the five key considerations one at a time.
Transformation success is made more likely when individuals with the relevant digital experience are placed in positions of leadership, such as a Chief Digital Officer (CDO). As well as adding such a leader, it is important to appoint transformation-specific leadership roles. This could be those in charge of program-management or a committed full-time transformation office. This idea of commitment is paramount. Whether it be senior leaders or those in transformation-specific roles, the more involved there are in the digital transformation, the more likely its success.
Sure, bringing individuals with digital experience in from the outside is great for senior roles, but don’t forget the importance of developing talent and skills throughout the organization’s existing workforce. This could be a case of redefining the individuals’ roles and responsibilities in order for them to be properly aligned with the digital transformation. This in itself provides clarity.
The gap between the traditional and the digital parts of the business is ultimately bridged by those in two types of roles. Firstly, there are the integrators who translate and integrate new digital methods and processes into existing ways of working, due to their business experience and technical digital understanding. Secondly, there are technology-innovation managers, who possess specialized technical skills and lead work on a company’s digital innovations. Combined, the people in these two roles help foster stronger internal capabilities among colleagues.
In addition, try to keep your talent search well-funded and robust, using a wide, innovate range of recruiting tactics.
There are two main ways in which companies with successful transformations are empowering employees to embrace the cultural change. The first is to reinforce new behaviours and ways of working through formal mechanisms. This could be a case of implementing continuous learning or open work environments. The second way is to let employees have their say on the way in which digitalization could and should be implemented. Success relies on both senior leaders and those engaged during the transformation.
A third key to success is people in key roles ensuring that their own units are collaborating with others when working on transformations, all the while encouraging employees to take risks and experiment with new ideas.
Digitally upgrading daily tools
Digitalizing tools and processes are essential in bringing about a successful transformation. It is a case of making the use of digital tools a new organisational norm.
Digital tools need to be made more accessible for everyone within the company. In addition, digitally self-serve technologies for employees and business partners should be implemented. Also, think about modifying your standard operating procedures to include new technologies.
Aside from these factors, an increase in data-based decision making and in the visible use of interactive tools is a great way to increase the chances of your digital transformation being a success.
Frequent Digital Communication
Clear communication is key to the success of any business no matter what and it’s especially the case during a digital transformation. A well communicated, richly layed-out change story will help your employees understand the direction of the company as well as why.
It is also important for senior leaders to foster a sense of urgency for making the transformation’s changes within their units, a practice where good communication is at the core.
Rather than in-person traditional channels, be sure to use remote and digital communications when conveying the transformation’s vision.
A digital transformation is a not a guaranteed success. Having said that, success is certainly possible. Try to ensure you have digitally-savvy leaders who can help promote a positive outlook towards change amongst the general workforce. Clear workforce strategies are required to help determine their existing digital skills and capabilities.
There will also need to be an upgrade in your company’s overall culture. Employees will need to feel more empowered than before in order to accept the need to jump on board and keep up with the pace of the change – a change made smoother with the implementation of digital tools and upgrading of processes.
It’s not realistic to expect all leaders will have the experience to support or enact each and every change and so it’s worthwhile exploring dedicated leadership-development programs. In terms of communication, you should embrace more creativity in the channels to help fit the faster-paced model, keeping things concise and well-tailored.
As always, the very best of luck.
The Byter Team