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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Seven steps to a successful digital transformation

The ability to adjust and make big and small changes materialize is the essence of business agility.

Seven steps to a successful digital transformation
[Brian Jackson/Adobe Stock] [fran_kie/Adobe Stock]

Approximately 70% of all digital transformations fail. These projects often fail because teams lack a clear understanding and alignment around all aspects of the business required to change as part of the transformation.  Digital transformation concepts must focus externally on the market and the customers you serve. Internally, they must focus on how you operate and make decisions in your organization. Let’s explore key focus areas that can help you avoid the typical pitfalls in a digital transformation.

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START FROM THE CUSTOMER AND WORK BACKWARD. 

In the new 24×7 digital world we live in, customers demand what they want, where they want it, and how they want it. Analyze how you attract customers, how they access your applications and systems, how quickly they are able to use them, and the processes your company follows to serve them. Across the business, orient your goals toward enabling your customers to interact with your company, products, and services. Identify how you deliver value and make it as simple and frictionless as possible.

CREATE SPEED.

Change needs to happen with precision. It should be created with clear business value and demonstrable ROI, and it needs to be implemented with speed. Business speed is the ability to incisively, efficiently, and repeatably operate the business. Companies will not capture digital value without understanding how they will work efficiently once the new models and processes are applied and volumes increase.

ENABLE AGILITY.

Adopt an agile approach to digital transformation by setting goals without locking in a timeframe or cost. Break your projects down into phases with target goals in mind, then iterate on them to achieve the desired impact. Make changes as you go and stay focused on constant improvement. The ability to adjust and make big and small changes materialize is the essence of business agility. Digital requires you to analyze and understand your data, recognize changes in the market and customer behavior, and adapt.

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LEVERAGE HYPERAUTOMATION.

Hyperautomation enables you to optimize business outcomes and customer success. According to Gartner, hyperautomation is an approach your organization can use to quickly identify, vet, and automate as many business and IT processes as possible. Many automation projects focus on reducing costs, enabling better compliance, and reducing effort. However, there are other benefits to automation initiatives.

You can enable business agility through a collection of tools combined with cultural change to attain operational flexibility and scale. Automation improves employee productivity: it reduces inefficient processes by focusing on activities that add more value. Hyperautomation can integrate new digital technologies within and across your legacy systems and processes. Integration of technology allows stakeholders to access data more efficiently and communicate more easily within your organization.

USE TECHNOLOGY AS AN ENABLER.

Optimize the ROI of your choices. Make your technology decisions based on what optimizes the business processes for speed and agility, and what makes the customer experience efficient and reliable. It’s not just about using cloud computing, AI, and machine learning, or creating a new mobile experience or launching new APIs. There is not an all-encompassing collection of technologies or tools that fuel the required transformation to become digital. These technologies can be a core part of the effort, but they are a means to an end.

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OPTIMIZE THE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE.

Reinvent employee collaboration and processes where employees are located with tools, applications, and experiences that maximize engagement and productivity. Digital technology has dramatically changed how you can monitor and improve employee collaboration and engagement to enable speed and agility. Optimal tool suites should include instant messaging, CRM, video communication platforms, email marketing, project management, collaborative knowledgebases, employee surveys, and key performance indicator (KPI) monitoring.

ORGANIZE FOR BUSINESS AND CUSTOMER DELIVERY PROCESSES AND OUTCOMES. 

You will create many new capabilities and scale their use, including rapid prototyping and delivery, AI-enabled cybersecurity, and advanced analytics, to name a few. Organize ownership of your latest activities and capabilities around the ability to create speed, agility, and reliability. Reduce decision times wherever possible and monitor your progress through KPIs that measure critical customer use, satisfaction, and employee productivity.

The shift to digital will stress the way you currently operate. As you work back from the customer, optimize employee productivity, and automate, you will discover that your legacy way of thinking and driving is not fast or efficient enough.

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CONCLUSION

You must apply these concepts correctly to enable new business models, analysis, and collection of massive amounts of data. That data should inform decisions and innovations that help you achieve the desired result and compete differently. Change needs to happen with precision. It should create clear business value and demonstrable ROI, and it should be implemented with speed and agility. Working with an advisor to help you develop a roadmap and guide you through the process can help you accelerate your success.


CEO, FifthVantage. We help B2B software companies transform complex technology goals into clear strategy, architecture, and execution plans.

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