Digital Transformation 101: What You Need to Know

Digital transformation. Without a doubt, as C-level executives, we see – we feel – the effects of digital transformation and its impact on how we do business. You’ve heard it before, but that is because it is an undeniable truth: digital transformation is forever changing the way that companies interact with their customers, partners, suppliers, and with their employees. Digital transformation is not only here to stay, it is our shared future.

What’s different about digital transformation? The pace, the reach, the utter scope of it all. When you think back 10 years ago, you realize how far we have come. Case in point: Apple launched the iPhone in 2007. Just a few years before that, in 2003, there was no Facebook, no Gmail, no Dropbox. We hadn’t yet seen YouTube and we couldn’t collaborate remotely with Google Docs. Think about how often you use WhatsApp. Remember when VoIP phone calls weren’t so accessible? Our social and work lives would be vastly different without these digital advances. Like it or not, we are part of a global phenomenon. At work and at play, we are connected to each other in ways that we hadn’t imagined even a few short years ago, and not just via mobile devices.

There are currently billions of devices and people connected around the world and the numbers are growing each day. Technology makes it easier than ever to use connectivity as a means to improve business operations. Consider how technology impacts you and your company. Consider how we share and store information and what real-time data, analytics, cloud storage, and digital marketing mean for your brand – yesterday, today, and tomorrow. With cloud computing, for example, businesses are more agile, innovation is easier, efficiency is greater, and capital expenditures are reduced.[2]

If digitalization describes “the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business” [3], then digital transformation is an accelerated version of this. Digital transformation touches every single piece of your business, at every point, 360°.

Research shows that a successful digital transformation strategy is led from the top of the organization.[4] Articulating a clear and coherent digital strategy and its importance to the organization’s future is key. The ensuing question for CEO’s and other C-level executives is how to tackle the opportunities and challenges posed with digital transformation. The landscape is changing fast. The investments needed are many. A transformation involves the entire organization, often disrupting old ways of doing business in favour of newer approaches. Company leaders must manage many issues simultaneously: internal skills and capabilities, employee commitment, corporate culture, outside directors, a company’s ability to adapt to change, and financial limitations, to name a few, all while keeping up with day-to-day operations. Forbes lists what they call the Magnificent 15 capabilities needed for digital transformation, which fall under three categories: technologies, management best practices, and soft skills.[5] With digital transformation here to stay, and with all its benefits for your organization, what grade would you give yourself on these vital competencies?

 

[1] https://www.domo.com/blog/data-never-sleeps-4-0/

[2] https://www.wired.com/insights/2012/10/5-cloud-business-benefits/

[3] http://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/digitalization

[4] https://dupress.deloitte.com/content/dam/dup-us-en/articles/digital-transformation-strategy-digitally-mature/15-MIT-DD-Strategy_small.pdf

[5] https://www.forbes.com/sites/steveandriole/2016/09/20/15-must-have-technology-capabilities-for-digital-transformation-the-final-scream/#a2a911f2fe15

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