What is Digital Transformation?

CIOPages.com digital experts define Digital Transformation as a foundational shift in business models, a customer-centric culture, a mobile-first approach, technology enablement as a strategic lever, and data-driven decision making.  A real digital transformation permeates strategy, people, process, data, technology, and culture.

Is Digital Transformation a Business paradigm or a Technology Paradigm?

The way we think about digital transformation is that it is a business led, and technology enabled transformation. It is a whole enterprise transformation.   If you think digital transformation is implementing yet another technology widget, it does not even remotely qualify.  On the other hand, if you think digital transformation is rearranging the organizational structure or process re-engineering, while both are important and worthy goals, are not what digital transformation is all about.  To be successful in digital transformation companies need to obtain synergies from a lot of capabilities, competencies, skills, culture, and mindset.

What is the difference between doing digital and being digital?

Doing digital is learning to swim or ride a bike. You can become good, but it requires right skills, technique, practice, and perseverance.  Being digital is innate, like breathing. It comes naturally.  That is the difference between digital natives (like say Amazon.com) and digital wannabes (pick any of the struggling Fortune 500 companies). However, large traditional Global 2000 firms with complex business and technology landscapes need to reinvent and transform their capabilities, processes, technologies and operating model to

However,  to cut some slack, it is not easy to turn the Titanic on a dime. Large traditional Global 2000 firms with complex business and technology landscapes need to do a lot more starting from ignorance, complacency, hubris, and inbuilt inertia, not to speak of the fundamental reinvention of strategy, structure, skills, staff, systems, process, and data.

What areas of Digital should we focus on?

It entirely depends on your situation and is based on a variety of factors such as the industry sectors, the geography, the customer segments, the competitive dynamics, and customer expectations.  However, broadly the following areas are considered the cornerstones of digital transformation:

  • Cloud
  • Social
  • Mobile
  • Analytics
  • Internet of Things
  • Intelligent Automation

What outcomes should we target from a digital transformation?

The results depend on what areas were the focus of the transformation effort. However, some of the typical results of a successful digital transformation endeavor are:

  • Improved Customer Experience
  • Seamless Omnichannel
  • Frictionless Fulfillment
  • Optimized Extended Supply Chain
  • Innovative Business Models
  • Digitalization of products and services including digital only offerings
  • Intelligent enterprise supported by data-driven decision making

What are the high-level steps in digital transformation?

Like in any other mission critical transformation endeavor, the following are the high-level steps in digital transformation.  Remember, each of these steps will have many tasks, activities, and milestones, not to speak of the months of effort by large teams.

  • Know the need
  • Build a preliminary business case
  • Secure buy in from the top
  • Assess the current state
  • Envision the desired future state
  • Conduct a gap analysis of capabilities, processes, competencies, skills, and technologies
  • Craft a transformation roadmap
  • Finalize the business case, propose a funding request, and secure budget
  • Form, Prioritize and Sequence Initiatives
  • Carve out into programs and projects
  • Staff the projects
  • Gather Detailed Requirements
  • Make Buy/Build/Outsource Decision
  • Conduct vendor evaluation and due diligence
  • Develop conceptual architecture
  • Re-engineer processes
  • Enable Systems
  • Roll out Features/Functions/Products/Services
  • Adoption, Training, and Change Management
  • Feedback and Lessons learned

Do we need a chief digital officer?

In our opinion, the chief executive officer is the de facto chief digital officer, given how important the digital transformation efforts are to the very viability of a company.  And the head of each functional area or business unit should lead their respective domains. For example, a robotic process automation endeavor is ideally led by the head of the supply chain, in conjunction with the IT folks. We do acknowledge that in rather big businesses, having one individual focus on digital may be a good idea. However, this person needs to have the necessary empowerment, scope of operation, right team, and an adequate budget to take on the task.

We do acknowledge that in rather large companies, having one individual focus on digital may be a good idea. However, this person needs to have the necessary empowerment, scope of operation, right team, and an adequate budget to take on the task.

Do need a partner in the digital transformation dance?

Digital transformation is a life and death issue for many companies. So if an external partner can provide intellect, expertise, experience, skills, and staff for particular areas, it may be well worth the expense and effort. Despite the talents that the partners (supplier, consultants, IT services firms, software vendors, systems integrators and the like) bring to the table, it is incumbent upon the company leadership to set direction, elaborate on strategy, instill a culture that fosters and promotes the digital transformation.

We have a ton of other questions. Sure, please touch base with CIOPages.com advisory services with your questions and request.