Digital Transformation: 10 guiding principles

Digital transformation is not an easy road. However, it’s also an inevitable evil. In 2019, you either embrace and invest in digital transformation to keep up with the competition or succumb to digital Darwinism—the phenomenon when technology and society evolve faster than an organization can adapt.

According to the International Data Corporation, 85% of enterprise decision-makers state that they already have a set time frame of 24 months to implement digital transformation in their businesses, or they’ll fall behind the competition and struggle financially. Finally, no one needs to be convinced about digital transformation.

The twist: while many business leaders today understand the benefits of DT and are beginning to make some efforts, only very few of them are willing to abandon their decades-old tactics that were once successful. In this article, you are going to discover ten guiding principles to a successful digital transformation journey.

10 guiding principles to a successful digital transformation

Well-structured digital transformation guiding principles are what separate successful transformation efforts from the unsuccessful.

1. Give up the past

You might be familiar with the saying, “If you continue doing the same things you always do, you will continue to get the same results you have always got.” This is not the case in today’s digital era. If you continue implementing the same traditional strategies, you will not only have stagnant growth but rather a declining one. As a savvy executive, you need to begin shuffling the deck and re-organizing your company to achieve different outcomes. 

2. Customer-centricity is key

This might seem obvious, but some executives get carried away with the transformation roadmap and forget to check-up if their goals align with the customer’s needs. No company succeeds from studying itself—it’s only those companies focused on the customerі who have a shot at success. While you are still on the aspect of the customer, you should: define who the customer is today, and who it will be in the future. Check if you have the right offering and if your customers want the way you deliver it. Look at the product or service from a customer’s perspective and answer the following questions: What do my customers want? How do they want to buy? And what is the most convenient way to deliver the service or product? 

3. Acknowledge the past

Digital transformation is all about new realities and new experiences. However, this does not necessarily mean you forget who you are and where you started. It’s essential to understand the challenges that your customers have had with old processes or existing products and take the necessary steps to address them.

4. Make the vision clear

Your team cannot digitally transform without knowing exactly where they are going. Make the vision clear so that everyone can successfully work towards it. Decide what kind of organization you want to become: Innovative. Are you going to be inventing new products constantly? Affordable. Would you have the cheapest cost? Or you’ll rather focus on the customer experience?

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5. Forget not the human component of digital transformation

For a truly successful digital transformation, you need to transform not only your products and services but your people as well. Unfortunately, most organizations latch on to the first word and ignore the full implications of the second. Once you have completely transformed your people, everything follows.

6. Break down all silos and ivory towers

Too much bureaucracy and protocols can hinder digital transformation. For instance, in some organizations, IT never talks to customers. However, you should understand that bringing development close to implementation and use is the only key to creating products and interface that customers want. Change your development methodology and go agile.

7. Focus on the bigger picture

When building a process or coding an application, it’s easy to get caught up in the edge cases. In the real world, only about 30% of your functionality is what people use 90-95% of the time. It is in the best interests of speed to always focus on the basic needs; you can always come back to add additional functionality.

8. Burn the bridges

Digital transformation needs a firm commitment. It’s not easy to succeed when people know that there is a Plan B. They can easily toss in the towel when it gets tough or accepts minimal improvements.

9. Let customers lead

Your ultimate goal is to make your customers happy. Instead of guessing what will keep them engaged, how about you A/B test everything. Let customers take full charge and tell you what works.

10. Leverage metrics

As you digitally transform, it’s not just about building technology. Focus on the outcomes. Are you delivering results that you can measure? Measurably getting close to your customers is one of the most critical aspects of a successful digital transformation strategy.

Wrap Up

The truth is, digital transformation is going to be a daunting and trying passage. However, it’s the only way to meet the high demands of today’s technologically savvy customers. Leverage the insights provided in this article to set yourself up for a successful digital transformation journey and dodge the common pitfalls.


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