In the post-pandemic market, every business leader is eager to engage in a digital transformation, harness the power of technology, and deliver on consumer expectations. Yet, too many business leaders launch their organizations into a digital transformation without fully understanding all the facts.
Digital transformation is the process of revolutionizing an organization’s business model to adopt tools, systems, and processes based on digital technology. Digital transformations tend to involve massive organizational change, so the more information business leaders have about digital transformation before they begin, the more likely their transformation is to build value for all stakeholders. Here are three facts about digital transformation that many business leaders misunderstand but are nonetheless essential for lasting success.
New Technology Is Not the First Step in Digital Transformation
The most obvious component of a digital transformation is the integration of digital technologies into a business’s structure and processes. However, that does not mean that the first step in digital transformation is acquiring new technology. In fact, organizations need to engage with significant planning and preparation before they install any servers or download any apps.
It is imperative that executives not reduce digital transformation to the tools or technologies they see in use within other organizations. Instead, executives should begin the long and arduous process of digital transformation by reimagining their business within the context of an almost entirely digital world. One digital transformation expert has likened the shift in perspective from trying to build a faster caterpillar to transmuting a caterpillar into a butterfly.
Many business leaders are not well-equipped for this true first step in digital transformation because they lack a fundamental understanding of technology and its applications. Thus, before launching into a digital transformation, executives should enroll in digital transformation courses that can provide the education and insight they need to guide their strategic decision-making going forward.
Digital Transformation Is Not the Result of a Single, Unshakeable Vision
In many respects, CEOs are like monarchs, creating the values and expectations for everyone under their rule. Yet, when it comes to digital transformation, not even the CEO can act alone. A digital transformation is a massive endeavor, involving every member of the organization; thus, executives tasked with designing and executing digital transformation need support from every corner.
Support for digital transformation begins with inviting feedback. Business leaders need to welcome perspectives from various types of stakeholders when developing a digital transformation strategy to ensure that they cover all concerns from every level of the organization, internally and externally. In addition to working with critical members of IT, leaders should consult workers throughout the company about their existing processes and how they might be improved. It might also be useful to survey consumers about the digital services they might want and need.
Executives have a limited perspective of their organization, regardless of their data collection and monitoring capabilities. By integrating a wider variety of visions of digital transformation into the transformation strategy, businesses are more likely to develop a strategy that preemptively addresses problems and drives engagement and support from stakeholders.
There Is No Clear Beginning and End to Digital Transformation
Some tech experts are happy to put a timeline on digital transformations, claiming that the typical transformation will take an organization a handful of years to complete. However, in truth, a digital transformation has no beginning or end. From a business’s launch, until it finally closes its doors, the organization should constantly be adopting new technologies and processes to increase efficiency and deliver greater value to its stakeholders.
Throughout human history, technology has persistently evolved — and it will continue to do so into the future. Thus, while executives might develop a limited plan for shifting away from current analog and manual tools and processes to integrate existing digital solutions and techniques, they must also recognize that the alteration of business strategy to account for the adoption of new technologies should never cease.
Thanks to the acceleration of trends during the COVID pandemic, every business leader wants their organization to be using digital technologies yesterday. However, to ensure lasting success, executives need to be realistic about at least three components of digital transformation: that they start with a practical vision, that they rely on multiple perspectives, and that they perpetuate the transformation into the future.