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A good way to think of “digital transformation” is as a coin: it is one coin, but with two complementary sides. You cannot have a head without a tail and you can’t have a tail without a head. These two sides “go with” each other, they are complementary opposites but intrinsically related.
On the one side, digital transformation is the process of changing existing business processes, organisational activities and business models so that the business ends up being more digitally enabled to deliver products and services to the end client. On the other side, it considers the amount of introspection and deliberate collaboration between people and departments that is needed to make sure we design solutions that not only meet our business objectives, but also our customers’ needs.
At its core, digital transformation is about four C’s: Change, Culture, Customer and Communities.
The change associated with embracing digital technologies to radically improve business performance, creating and nurturing an internal culture of innovation so that it becomes second nature, transforming the customer experience through a better understanding of customer needs, and building communities that drive customer loyalty and ensure sustainable future business.
The world is changing fast, and so too are customers’ expectations of us. If we become content with resting on the laurels of past achievements, we fail to recognise and pursue the opportunities that will help us adapt to what the future holds.
If you’re the custodian of your company’s digital agenda, what should you do to drive a successful digital transformation journey? While a vision and a strategy for your journey is a good starting point, it shouldn’t end there. Your vision, no matter how great and inspiring, is only as good as your ability to implement it. So, kick up a few gears and translate it into an overarching digital transformation programme comprised of multiple projects that can be planned, prioritised and managed just like any other project. And make sure you staff up for it, because you will have a lot of balls in the air once you press the green button.
Invest the time up front to consult with your most important stakeholders when you develop the strategy and design the transformation programme: the board who needs to approve budget and direction, the executive committee who have to protect and defend it through formal sponsorship, department heads who need to give valuable input and willingly compromise on their own struggle for resources in favour of the digital transformation journey.
Don’t be scared of diversity when tackling the programme — valuable input and critical support often come from places you never anticipated. Gone are the days where “digital” is banished to be the realm of the marketing or IT departments — success will come from a holistic, multi-faceted understanding of the entire organisation and its goals, blended with real customer understanding and guidance.
Make sure you identify your key stakeholders to the long term digital transformation programme as well as for each project stream, and then manage and reward their involvement through watertight programme management practices.
Disclosure: Ika van Wyk is head of Creative Spark’s digital transformation division. Creative Spark is the owner of Memeburn.
Feature image: Damian Zaleski via Unsplash