Like any journey, digital transformation is easier with a roadmap

Businesses seem to be locked into a vicious circle of preparing for the new technological trend only to find out the world has already moved on to the ‘next big thing’; newer and shinier is always better, right? Big Data, cloud, mobile and IoT are the tools of the digital landscape. Agility and forward thinking are the skills needed to survive.

shutterstock_361634360Every business needs to adjust to this new digital dynamic but worryingly it seems not everyone is willing, ready or capable. A survey by Progress revealed that 62% of decision makers globally believe their organisation is in denial about the need to transform digitally and 59% worry they are already too late. While many of us understand the importance of digital transformation and have added this to our business agendas, a large proportion of the business world is still unsure about what digital transformation really is, let alone how to tap into it.

Many organisations have defined what success looks like – raising efficiency, limiting costs, taking the lead in the marketplace. This is an important step as setting the stage right from the get-go is critical for the success of any project, especially when it comes to the fast paced, ever-changing digital landscape. But it is not always clear how to actually go about achieving these results. It seems the problem is that while many know where they want to go, they’re not sure how to get there.

This is where a digital transformation roadmap comes in handy to help organisations understand what these processes involve and help them find their way around their digital evolution journey.

Stay focused on the result

Crafting your digital transformation strategy means getting into the nitty-gritty of business strategy. This means questioning your whole approach. Are you trying to update an existing application or build a new one? Does your organisation need an app development platform or tool? How robust are your real data needs? Are you deploying on-premises or in the cloud? These should be amongst the first questions that you ask yourself.

Without underestimating the importance of these details, always remember your end goal and let the tactics follow. Any digital transformation project should align with business objectives; it’s not an end in itself to ‘go digital’. Process for the sake of process is a waste of time. To achieve this make sure that whatever you do you ask yourself what the impact on your business will be. If it can’t be traced back to a tangible business benefit, cut it. Be ready to straddle a fine line between commitment and ruthlessness. Get it right and you’ll be on to a winner.

Digital transformation needs (winning) teams

Digital transformation is not a one-man-show. Lack of communication and internal contradictions have killed even the most promising of projects. It is therefore important to make sure everything aligns. Strategy, people, process, technology, implementation; it should all be part of one strategy and everyone should be part of that one strategy. Your digital transformation won’t be a success unless everyone is on the same page. Ensure everyone understands the project’s importance and remember – it’s never too early to break down those silos! 

Get ready for change

Change starts with behaviour. No matter how hard you might try to implement change, a top-down or ad hoc approach means failure. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts and organisations should ensure that everyone understands that they play a key role in the transformation and that they need to be fully on board. This requires a structured approach that will build the bridge between today and tomorrow and win hearts and minds. Cultural change isn’t easy but commitment and perseverance will be useful qualities to have and will keep your digital transformation on track.

Don’t go about it alone! Choose the right partner

Digital transformation is a journey made of many different routes. Just like buying the most expensive spoons won’t automatically make you the best chef out there, there is no shiny new technology piece that will transform you into a better organisation overnight. Digital Transformation is not about implementing new technology, it is about making the most of technology to drive new behaviours and maximise talent. It is about changing your organisation inside-out and finding new ways to stay close to your customers and partners.

Transformation is a journey and not a destination. It therefore takes time and effort to understand your needs and challenges, define your goals and objectives, the principles that will guide you, and then select the right path for you.

Keep your roadmap close and enjoy the journey.

By Vassil Terziev, CIO at Progress