How to succeed at digital transformation

Thor Olavsrud

To be sure, he says, technology is integral to digital transformation, but business strategy, operational processes and metrics all need to line up as well to make that transformation successful. The leader who sets the vision and strategy needs to have a strong handle on the technology and a clear understanding of the other elements as well.

"You're going to be making a significant investment in technology," Dettling says. "But if you're a business leader and you think that's the main point of emphasis, you're going to be missing the other legs of the stool. The best way to support business alignment is to make sure the digital strategy tactics support the business strategy."

Forrester Consulting and Accenture Interactive have four recommendations for leaders who are driving digital transformation:

  • Advocate digital transformation and the customer experience at an executive level. Digital transformation needs to be a company-wide initiative, which requires strong collaboration and evangelism from company leaders. The study found company culture and organization lag behind process and technology when it comes to digital readiness. For digital transformation to succeed, you need to make cultural change and educational aspects of transformation a highlight of your plan.
  • Execute change within the context of an end vision. You need a clear vision for the end-state to get everyone moving in the same direction and you need to communicate any changes to that vision during the process. Standardizing on a core set of technologies that the business can build around is a great way to accelerate change and keep the organization connected.
  • Be willing to take risks and learn from mistakes. You will need to take risks and develop agile processes in order to keep up. Digitally mature companies don't require traditional approvals and a detailed business case for every change. If new functionality is in the spirit of digital transformation and the customer experience, give it a try, solicit feedback, and then iterate on it.
  • Find partners whose capabilities complement your own. Enlist third-party solution providers to help you navigate change and implement new strategies. It is often cheaper and faster than building those capabilities internally. Find partners that understand your broader strategies and have specific strengths in the functions and areas that your company lacks.

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