For the vast majority of companies, the marketplace has changed drastically since the rise of the Internet Age. Even many B2C industries that go back centuries (e.g., grocery stores, book stores, etc.) have had to adapt to this new technological revolution.
Still, most businesses would benefit greatly from undergoing a more in-depth transformation. Specifically, their future depends on how well they can undertake a digital transformation successfully within the next few years.
What Is Digital Transformation?
A digital transformation is a process of creating new or modifying existing business practices, cultures, or customer experiences to meet emerging business needs by leveraging digital technologies. For many CTOs, a more straightforward way to think of a digital transformation is that it’s the process of updating a company, so it’s able to compete in the Digital Age.
One example of a digital transformation is the pizza chain, Domino’s. To remain competitive in the Digital Age, Domino’s made some changes to help meet new customer demands. Among other things, they allowed people to place their orders from smartphones, smart TVs, and even Twitter. Customers can then track their orders online via the Domino’s Pizza Tracker.
Another example comes from Caterpillar, a company that has been manufacturing heavy machinery for nearly 100 years.
To ensure their business continues operating for another century, Caterpillar underwent a digital transformation back in 2015. One of the most significant changes they made was launching the Uptake Caterpillar solution. This digital tool monitors data about the operation of the company’s machines, determining when preventative maintenance should occur to prevent severe problems.
How to Manage a Successful Digital Transformation
Here are three steps every CIO must take to ensure their company benefits from a successful transformation without taking unnecessary risks.
1. Get Everyone Onboard
Adding new technology doesn’t always take buy-in from the heads of each department. Many CIOs implemented VoIP without conducting a company-wide survey first. They often do the same with installing new software. It’s just not essential to make sure everyone is on board.
That’s because those aren’t massive changes and they mostly don’t affect how staff members will interact with leads and clients. A digital transformation, on the other hand, will involve significant changes.
This is why the first step of successful digital change management is speaking with department heads to ensure they understand why this evolution has become crucial, not just how it will happen. Equally as important, these employees must feel comfortable providing their input, as well, so it feels like they’ve had a voice in the process.
To achieve this kind of two-way-communication, senior executives must be involved. Research has shown that when they commit to communicating with employees through the company, chances of transformational success increase by eightfold!
When employees don’t support digital transformations, the best-case-scenario is a drawn-out process that took longer than it should and cost more, too. The worst-case-scenario is total failure. Involve as many people as possible from the beginning to avoid these undesirable outcomes.
2. Prioritize Training in New Technologies
Another reason digital transformation management often fails is that, though employees understand and agree that change must occur, they aren’t given sufficient means to adapt to these changes. Instead, they’ve merely been issued the new technology with minimal training. This is guaranteed to breed the kind of frustration that dooms transformations to failure.
In many cases, merely training staff on new technology won’t be enough. A successful transformation may also require training in new skills so that employees can leverage the latest technology toward the best possible results.
3. Pick an Ambitious Goal
When McKinsey analyzed digital-transformation success rates, they found something exciting: they discovered that results from “successful transformations” showed that these organizations made use of “more technologies than others do (Exhibit 1).”
Their survey discovered the average organization only attempted to utilize 4-out-of-the-11 options they were asked about. Most of those options were web-based tools. However, those organizations that had more successful transformations were more likely “to use more sophisticated technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and advanced neural-machine learning techniques.”
Generally, simply taking on new web-based tools wouldn’t be considered a real “digital transformation.” However, as it turns out, setting such modest goals may also keep companies from reaching them.
The Time for a Digital Transformation Is Now
Though it may seem like an emerging trend, companies have been undergoing digital transformations for nearly a decade.
That’s why no business should put off the decision to do the same any longer. Every time a company invests in a digital transformation, they enjoy a massive advantage over its competitors, one that only continues to grow as time goes on.
Even if it just means considering the digital transformation management tips above and formulating a plan, CIOs should not wait any longer to get started with this critical step. Create the kind of ambitious goal detailed above, but then get started ASAP.
Would you like to read about more of these cutting-edge trends upending the business world? Our Trends in Technology guide focuses on the trends changing the way the world does business.
Director of Marketing & Inbound Business Development