With Digital Transformation, Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Building an effective digital transformation plan is difficult to wrap your head around, let alone actively implement into your organization. After all, 21 percent of organizations believe — falsely — that they’ve already completed their digital transformation initiatives, according to Forrester.

These rushed attitudes around the idea of digital transformation make sense. Digital transformation is a buzzword, and with buzzwords come urgent and pressing messages. In this case, much of the rhetoric has revolved around “innovate now, or get left behind.” The resulting pressure and excitement causes organizations to approach the process hastily.

In our first blog post in this series, we defined digital transformation as the implementation of digital technology at the core of your business. These upgrades are made to rejuvenate and reinvent processes in order to stay competitive in the marketplace.

The best way to achieve true digital transformation is to approach it as an ongoing journey, not as an item on a to-do list. For those committed to taking small and steady steps when carrying out digital transformation initiatives, here are a few important ideas to keep in mind.

  1. Test your process on smaller initiatives – Digital transformation requires well-informed process to make it through major upgrades, and it’s important to find the right place in your organization to start. But how are you supposed to secure buy-in and tackle the big tasks before you’re confident in your process? You can define that process by tackling smaller scale initiatives first. Any digital transformation process, no matter how large or small, should involve steps for testing, launching and measuring the success of an implemented solution. Measurement can be particularly challenging, since you’re often trying to develop new KPIs and then extract those chosen KPIs from an initiative that’s already in process. After carrying it out on smaller initiatives, the process can be critiqued and perfected for larger initiatives where more is at stake.
  2. Hire the right talent and partner with the right partners – It’s very unlikely you already have the experts you need to begin fulfilling your digital transformation plans. In fact, 71 percent of organizations plan to hire staff for their digital transformation initiatives, according to Nintex. Any leader knows that hiring quality talent takes time, especially in our current job market where more jobs than candidates exist. And talent that is crucial to most digital transformation plans — including data scientists, network engineers and AI experts — comes at a premium. Since it’s unlikely that most organizations can quickly find the talent they need at a price they can immediately afford, hiring is a main aspect of why digital transformation plans must move incrementally. Finding quality talent that your team can afford is worth waiting several quarters rather than settling for a lower-quality candidate now. But hiring outside talent isn’t the only way to bring new perspective and expertise to your digital transformation initiatives. Fresh ideas can also come from nontraditional sources such as consultants from different industries. For example, consider a hospital is attempting to develop an AR/VR program to help train frontline care providers. They may feel daunted trying to tackle this initiative with the in-house tech talent they have, but partnering with an outside video-game development team may be the perfect, albeit unique solution for the challenge.
  3. Focus energy on adoption – Changing employee and end-customer behavior is tricky, but it’s required in successful digital transformation. For those who rush through the process of digital transformation, many assume that adoption is automatic. But forcing an audience to relearn how to perform a process they’re already comfortable with doesn’t always go over smoothly. With that in mind, investing in a user-centered approach to research and testing will go great lengths in validating that what is being built is something that users will find both useful and useable. After implementation, not only do new processes and strategies need to be explained clearly to the broader community, but the intent and benefit must be communicated as well. Creating onboarding material that highlights these points helps your team to determine where potential bottlenecks may occur, as well as how exactly the users will benefit from the new process. With adoption as the last step to a digital transformation process, the success of your hard work rests on it.

Rather than getting caught up in the buzzword craze around digital transformation, slow down and consider what it could bring to your company if done deliberately and thoughtfully. When you decide to take action, retain that same slow and steady approach to carrying out your plans. Digital transformation is about continuously improving your organization’s digital strategies, rather than reaching a final destination.