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The Blueprint for Digital Transformation in 2019 (and beyond)

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Digital disruption is a reality for all companies today - no matter what sector they’re in. And although it is undoubtedly challenging, those that can master the key elements of successful digital transformation can reap the rewards and gain competitive advantage over those simply trying to play catch up.

The choices that leaders make around how these transformations are implemented can result in huge differences to the ultimate outcome. So here are five elements that are integral to any successful digital transformation:

1. Strategy and Goals

This is the most important step within any transformation or change project. Your strategy needs to be well thought out in terms of budget, people, skills, and timing. Once the strategy has been developed, ensure the goals and purpose of the transformation are clearly communicated to all stakeholders. This should include concrete steps that detail how the new technologies will be integrated into the workplace. You also need to outline how the capabilities of the staff will be enhanced and how they can be empowered to work in new and more effective ways.

2. Organisational Structure

Having the right organisational structure in place can mean the difference between success and failure. However, it’s important to note that one single structure doesn’t suit all organisations looking to embark on their digital transformation journey.

Potential structures leaning towards centralisation can include a Special Projects Team that reports directly to the CEO or a Digital Transformation Office or Business Unit that determines the company’s digital priorities and coordinates their implementation. Alternatively, companies can opt for a more decentralised or embedded digital business approach that moves the responsibility of the transformation away from a single group to all staff and helps create a culture where everyone takes greater ownership over their own digital approaches. 

3. Trial, Learn, Implement

Viewed top-down, digital transformation seems broad but on the ground it is usually quite a narrow set of changes. Teams need to be able to implement and test out novel ideas and learn what works best. Where new processes don’t turn out to be effective or wider uptake of them doesn’t occur, these need to be tailored or the organisation’s standard processes modified so that company-wide adoption occurs.

Having new tools or processes, even if they’re fantastic, is worthless if they’re not adopted in people’s day to day roles. One way to address this problem is by ensuring that all individual roles and responsibilities are redefined to be aligned with the transformation’s goals.

4. The Right Skills

Digital transformation usually requires specific sets of skills in order to implement changes -  from change management specialists to front end developers. Having the right mix of skills is crucial. Companies that set cross-functional or enterprise-wide hiring goals based on specific skill requirements are twice as successful in achieving their digital transformation goals.

The most important of these roles are the leaders managing and implementing the digital transformation. But new roles may also need to be created to operate and maintain new technology systems. This can include data scientists, developers, engineers, or specific tech roles such as AI or machine learning engineers.

If you need assistance in finding the right talent to help you in this process, contact XLdigital.

5. Culture

Successful digital transformation is as much about cultural shifts as it is about new technologies. What may initially seem like a minor part of the overall picture is actually the reason a lot of digital transformation programs fail. If your business is willing, at all levels, to take part in the transformation you will see success. However if there are people hesitant to jump on board or actively try to block changes, then the transformation will fail.

Communication plays a huge role here. Companies need to be creative in the ways they communicate to encourage everyone to be on the same page and make sure people in all roles genuinely understand the need for the planned changes. The use of one-way communication platforms such as email should be discouraged in favour of internal social and collaborative platforms that promote open dialogues.

Conclusion

McKinsey research has shown that organisations embracing a larger number of new technologies are the most likely to succeed. The most important of these are traditional web technologies, cloud based services, mobile internet technologies, Big Data, IoT, design thinking, and AI tools. So for organisations looking to maximise their chances of success they should be looking towards comprehensive rather than piecemeal transformation programs.

To find out more about how digital transformation can set your company up for the next decade and beyond, talk to the experts at XLdigital, who can help you achieve your goals.