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Planning for Digital Transformation

May 10 2018

Digital transformation means something different to every organization.  It is also the most complex and highest-risk project an organization can take on today.  So, to try and define it almost seems like a fruitless effort.  However, in general Digital Transformation is used to describe the ways in which businesses are adapting to meet the requirements of today’s digital era.  One in which we are facing profound and far-reaching changes in the way digital technology is created, managed, analyzed, and consumed. 

Digital transformation is a paradigm shift. As organizations race to digitize more and more of the services they provide.  Organizations and Technologies are maturing to meet the digital needs –  and C-Levels are faced with many new realities.

A recent study from the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University estimates that 40% of today's Fortune 500 companies on the S&P 500 will no longer exist in 10 years. It is no surprise as 90% of Fortune 500 companies vanished since 1955, but the latest estimate is in 10 years, just a decade away.  

The truth is, becoming a digital company is difficult, but those who don’t move in that direction, and per se move quickly, will become a prime contestant to be disrupted. So why then are some companies still not planning for the Digital Disruption that is inevitably coming?

Many global companies have started to realize their business will be mostly digital within the coming years, but still many are really not interested in dealing with Digital Transformation or just do not know where to start.  They don’t realize that embracing digital transformation is a superior option then avoiding it.  They simply want to bury their heads in the sand until this ‘Digital Thing’ ends.  Where others are struggling to build on and/or execute a proper Digital Transformation strategy, and of the ones that do, 87% of them will fail to execute on that strategy. Why?

We have become so accustomed to digital technology, we are no longer able to imagine life without it. And yet, when it comes to the digital transformation of the work environment, we still have a long way to go. Which means that the greatest obstacle for digital transformation is simply, people.

Digital transformation isn’t really about technology, but more about the people and how organizations will be able to be in a state of constant revolution.  Digital technologies will disrupt value chains, organizational structures, operational processes and revenue, models.  

Because people are resistant to change. Many organizations fail to plan for the human factor. It you want an organization that has breakthrough results, you need to guide your people to lead the change. 

Ensure you are gaining alignment through sharing the vision and asking your people to take it to the next level.  Then LISTEN... Listen to what your people are saying and change the conversation.  I have a saying that ‘You can’t move forward, with thinking that’s behind’. What are your people thinking about Digital Transformation? Are they conveying the right message effectively to their people?  Placing people in the centre of the transformation process is the first challenge most companies face, in spite of the intrinsic importance of the people on the Digital Transformation.

The bottom line is this:  We, as leaders, must take it upon ourselves to do due diligence in how we locate expertise and prioritize people in the Digital Transformation process, as they apply to today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities. It starts with assessing where you are, where you need to go, and what’s holding you back. Ensuring that the right message is transmitted to the entire organization.  

Digital transformation, contrary to the name, isn’t just about technology. Nor is it about any one organizational thing or function. Conversations solely focused on IT, marketing, CX, or any other topic represent only slivers of change. 

Over time, it’s everything. And when everything aligns under the right leadership and with the right vision, and supported by all levels of the organization, change will not only have meaning, it will also accelerate and drive greater ROI.


Author: Lewise Hiltz, Head of Digital Marketing at KPI Digital