I have seen a number of middle market organizations successfully leverage emerging information technologies to significantly increase revenues, enter new markets, and create new business opportunities. However, I have also seen some end up on a path of low growth or even decline after investing heavily in the latest technology but failing to put the right processes in place to capture a strong ROI.
While not all smart IT investments guarantee a positive business outcome, the majority of companies that have success with their “digital transformation” focus their efforts on optimizing these ten elements.
- Strategy and Leadership. Leaders of these successful companies have articulated an effective set of business strategies that are grounded in a solid understanding of their capabilities, customers, and markets. After having this strategy in place, they look at the ways in which information technologies can effectively lead their organizations to achieve their stated goals.
- Core Values. Successful established companies have a clear understanding of and strong commitment to their core values. These companies look at the newest technological capabilities as a way to further strengthen and enhance their values.
- Customer Experience. Companies that have been successful in their digital transformation efforts have provided their customers with ongoing improved experiences. They have uncovered the needs of their customers and prospects and have implemented key features and capabilities that will make their lives easier. These companies work tirelessly to increase customer loyalty so that they continue to come back for more.
- Employee Experience. In order to attract and retain the best talent, technology-savvy companies are continuously challenging themselves to improve their culture and developing tools to help employees do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.
- Innovative Culture. Digital transformation is all about thinking of ways to create new business opportunities or improve existing ones. Having an organizational culture that encourages innovation, experimentation, and change is a key ingredient for companies that have been successful in their digital transformation efforts.
- Capable and Empowered Teams. Successful companies realize that their executives’ digital transformation vision needs to be carried out and implemented by a group of skilled and empowered team leaders. Ideally, these team leaders are data savvy and have a thorough understanding of what has made their companies successful in the past. They also command the respect of their colleagues and are excited by opportunities that could be realized through effective implementation of the latest digital solutions.
- Effective Tools. IT tools change at an exponential rate. Recent developments in areas such as cloud and mobile computing, smart apps, blockchain, improved integration interfaces, robotic process automation, analytics, and AI are introducing exciting opportunities for companies to drastically improve their process capabilities and create new business opportunities. Companies that are still dependent on older IT systems will need to take a critical look at ways to upgrade their platforms in order to provide them with the right tools to support their transformation efforts.
- Performance Management Focus. Successful firms have an emphasis on continuously monitoring performance and adjusting the course of action as needed. These companies leverage data analytics tools such as management dashboards as part of their ongoing management meetings to ensure transparency and open dialogue among all team members.
- Evolution versus Revolution. Most firms that have been successful in their digital transformation efforts have taken a step-by-step evolutionary approach, using experiments and lessons learned to introduce digital-enabled products and services. These firms have shown a strong sense of realism and have not abandoned their traditional lines of business. Instead, they have generally strengthened them through an effective infusion of well-planned digital capabilities.
- Protection of Digital Assets. In their journey towards increased digitalization, successful companies realize increased dependence on their digital assets and the importance of protecting them. As such, these companies have an aggressive approach towards information and cyber security concerns since they realize their capabilities could be interrupted by an unauthorized breach or intrusion. As a result, they have an active and ongoing cyber readiness program in place to ensure their people, processes, and technologies are staying ahead of the curve and away from cyber threats.
Recent advances in information technologies present exciting opportunities to grow and prosper. Long-term success on this journey will be highly dependent on leveraging a holistic and integrated digital transformation approach in a well-planned manner.
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