The acceleration of digital transformation

Digital transformation in the business world has accelerated at an increasingly rapid pace in recent years. Recent reports suggest that by 2018, CIOs will devote 28 percent of their budgets in support of digital transformation (source: Gartner.com).

The value of digital transformation is not to be sniffed at. The catalysts for digital transformation across almost every industry are changing customer demand, evolving technology and emerging competition. When all three coincide and the business can no longer serve its customers effectively, the business has reached a vital tipping point. Companies either transform or tip over. Crucially, the evolving business which embraces digital transformation is pivoted to manage change and survive.

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Digital transformation success

The key to digital transformation is understanding that it isn’t just a lengthy e-commerce initiative. Digital transformation is actually enterprises reacting to the storm of new technology affecting markets and customers.

Successful digital transformation initiatives recognise that the role of technology transcends the internal audiences, systems and processes. Using technology to disrupt how customers experience a product or service – bettering the customer experience – are the most powerful examples of digital transformation.

Domino’s topping the digital transformation leaderboard

A smart use of digital transformation is the AnyWare platform of Domino’s Pizza. Traditionally, customers have been able to place orders using the Domino’s website. Now they can place orders by tweeting and texting emojis through smartphones, smart TVs, and smartwatches. Customers can also order pizza using Facebook messenger or even their car (if they have Ford SYNC). All of this makes it easier and quicker for the customer to place their order and receive their food. The pizza company have embraced digital technology in a way that enhances their business model and enhances the customer experience. “Choice drives our whole mobile and digital platform,” says Domino’s CIO Kevin Vasconi, “millennials love that.” (source: CIO.com).

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This focus on customer experience is driving the pace of digital acceleration in businesses. 92% of leaders report that they have mature digital transformation strategies and processes in place to improve the customer experience (source: Forbes).

Security-first approach

Before starting a digital transformation initiative, it’s important to recognise that the lynchpin of digital security is compliance. Instead of thinking of security as ‘bolted-on’ to digital transformation, security should be included from the outset of the project. Any digital initiative requires having a workforce that’s digitally savvy and aware of proper security protocol. By ensuring that you are security compliant from the outset, you can reap the rewards of digital transformation and minimise the risks.

Building your digital DNA

There are three main characteristics that companies at the forefront of digital transformation share:

1. Resources – People are needed to implement digital strategy in a continuous and comprehensive way. This requires skills that may not exist within the organisation and technology investment that requires integration and ongoing management. More and more organisations are project managing digital transformation from within, but relying on external resource to execute or migrate large scale digitisation.

A business also needs investment to implement digital transformation – for example, new technologies, process design, and integration. This needs to be from an IT perspective. It requires infrastructure readiness – a network to cloud infrastructure upgrade to withstand the increased compute power and performance demands.

2. Shareholder and stakeholder commitment – It’s all well and good to discuss what attributes are needed for a company to build their digital DNA, but if your company’s shareholders and stakeholders don’t have the commitment to see your digital transformation through, there’s little point. Digital transformation is more of a journey than an overnight fix. It is, after all, a transformation. A company must be willing to put time into achieving digital transformation, and requires the support and commitment of both shareholders and stakeholders.

3. Flexibility – Digital transformation requires an overhaul of the way an organisation operates. Therefore, an organisation must be flexible and prepared to change to fully embrace digital transformation. Some organisations have become ‘ambidextrous organisations’. In these cases, the organisations in question have recognised the value that exists in applying more than one operating model within their business, depending on the needs of a particular business unit or function. It is businesses like this that fully embrace digital transformation.

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Maintaining the momentum

Maintaining the momentum of digital transformation can be a difficult task. This maintenance requires two main focuses:

  1. Culture – an organisation must embrace a cultural change throughout its levels. This includes embracing digital processes, reporting, analytics, etc to make the processes cohesive. Senior executives and all departments should be working together to ensure the success of their digital transformation programme. Digital transformation is, ultimately, the effort of the entire organisation, not just a single department.
  2. Pace of execution – monitoring and keeping up with emerging new technologies will  improve both customer and employee experience. Digital transformation is a constant initiative, so it’s important to constantly update digital transformation plans based on changing markets and technology.

Ultimately, a successful digital transformation programme relies on repeated and ongoing efforts to respond to evolving technology and changing demands from both customers and the external market. In a fast-paced world, constant change is expected – and should be embraced with open arms.

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