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“Digital Transformation” has no meaning. Unless you give it one.

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A recent meme floated around social media asked who led the digital transformation in your company. The answer options given were CIO, CEO and COVID-19. The unanimous winner was COVID-19.

We may have brushed it off as a meme, but it is not far from reality.  While digital transformation is the unanimous top priority for organizations, most of the initiatives tagged under “digital transformation does not attain the desired objectives; assuming there was one in the first place. As per a Harvard Business Review study, almost $900 billion of the $1.3 trillion spent on digital transformation initiatives have gone waste.

Such waste of money, time and effort calls for a serious introspection and course-correction to enhance probability of success of “digital transformation” projects.

Here is a list of five key things that must be considered to enhance the possibility of success through “Digital Transformation” efforts.

  1. Digital Transformation is more than just the tools and technologies:

It worked for a competitor, let us use the same tool. A specific technology has helped a company to completely transform its customer experience, let us consider the same.

The above lines are often heard in meeting and discussions. However, digital transformation is always specific to your business objectives. The digital transformation roadmap aligned with objectives and desired results is the first step. Any tool and technology, or for that matter, the very execution of the digital strategy should be the last step. If the leaders in an organization start a digital transformation exercise with one tool or a specific technology being adopted, it will often not create the desired impact and might face inertia from employees and customers too.

  1. Have you captured the knowledge resident inside?

Digital transformation does not have a playbook. Unfortunately, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. You must understand how your organizations operates, know each process in-depth, understand every interface and touchpoint with your customers, and then apply the power of digital to make each process and experience seamless.

If this must be attained, it is not possible by bringing in a set of experts from outside. While they will present the necessary knowledge and updates on digital transformation, the knowledge resident inside the organization across departments is vital to ensure a successful digital transformation initiative.

The people in the organization, especially the ones who have been working for many years, are critical repositories of information about every process, and every interface. Their contribution is an imperative for the success of digital transformation efforts.

  1. Does your customer experience have the “customer” in it?

Many organizations tend to assume traits, preferences, behaviour patterns etc. about their customers and design digital interfaces and touchpoints accordingly. The organization needs to be very fortunate to get these assumptions right.

Ideally, involving the customer and demographic insights and using it to create an immersive customer experience is important. If customer experience is one of the key objectives of your digital transformation strategy, then it is great to interview customers and collate as much insight as possible before designing a consistent omni-channel experience for your customers.

  1. Digital Transformation – A threat or an opportunity?

Will digital transformation take away my job or make my function redundant? One of the key reasons for inertia with respect to accepting the change brought about by digital is the fear of becoming redundant or obsolete. The fear is valid.

The organization must address these fears from the strategic level. It must communicate the fact that digital transformation might enable the employees to upskill, free themselves of mundane tasks, and contribute more towards strategic objectives. The backing of every employee of the organization is vital to ensure success of digital transformation initiatives.

  1. “Fail Fast” Culture

No matter how large or old your organization is, digital transformation is an imperative. The need for agile processes and faster “go-to-market” cannot be overemphasized. In the digital age, speed is of essence and multiple hypothesis must be tested before arriving at the one that resonates with relevant stakeholders. Further, with cloud and as-a-service models, organizations can experiment with a few digital tools before arriving at the best fit. Hence, creating a culture of experimentation and allowing the liberty to fail and learn is critical for the success of a digital transformation story.

If the failures are affordable and enables the organization to learn, it will add to the robustness of the digital transformation strategy and create a very nimble organization. The benefits of such a culture is clearly visible in many organizations across the globe that have not only reinvented themselves but have also significantly bolstered their top line and bottom line.

Digital Transformation is different for every organization. It is not only about the technology behind it. It is also about a change in mind-set, culture, thought process etc. It is like a revolution within the organization for a better future. If you do not give it a meaning, purpose, and definition, it will not yield the desired results. Hence, start by defining the digital charter and get the organization to rally around it to enhance probability of success of your digital transformation efforts.

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