How to survive your digital transformation

How to survive your digital transformation

5 tips to help you along your journey

According to the Harvard Business Review, digital transformation risk is the number one concern for CEOs, directors and other senior executives. Rightly so when it is estimated that more than 70 per cent of digital transformation initiatives don’t reach their goals and of the $1.3 trillion spent and $900 billion wasted, according to the publication.

So how do you help to ensure doesn’t just survive but  thrives during your digital transformation?

Here are 5 tips to help you along your journey.

1. Be clear about what digital transformation is

I was recently speaking to a room of professionals about the digitisation of their business processes. Nobody in the room could provide a clear definition of what digital transformation is; their attempts were all long and complicated.

As Albert Einstein said: “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

After some work, we came to simply understand it as fulfilling on organisational strategy in a vastly improved way or an entirely new way though using technology.

2. Avoid the number one mistake

Digital transformation is not about technology. The number one mistake is thinking that it is. Too often someone in an organisation hears about a new technology and they fall in love with it and then it becomes the focal point of the digital transformation initiative. Don’t spend any money on technology until you are clear about what your digital transformation is about.

3. What is it about?

Digital transformation is about strategy. The starting point is a clear organisational strategy and direction. Once we have a clear organisational strategy, we can then look to create a digital strategy that supports it and once that is clear, we can get interested in determining what technology would be the best investment to realise our objectives. The rule to follow is to be clear on your overall strategy, goals and objectives before spending on the technology itself.

4. Turn risks into opportunities

The idea of digital transformation often brings to mind images of jobs being lost to various forms of technology. It is true that technology will be able to replace many jobs that were once done by humans. It is also true that we have more opportunity than ever before because of it.

This opportunity only exists when we truly understand our job. Our number one job is to create value. Don’t compete against technology in areas you can’t win.  Allow technology to free your time up so you can create value in ways technology cannot.

5. Develop the three critical skills

Your differentiator in the digital age are the ‘human-only’ skills. Once you are freed up by technology use the human only skills that set you apart.

Start with these three:

Strategic and forward thinking: See a future that does not exist yet, use intuition and creativity to see how something could be and then plot out a course on how to get there.

Empathy and customer focus: Think from the experience that you will create for your clients and customers. Go beyond simply understanding the processes to be followed. Technology can make processes better, you can see how to create better experiences.

Innovation and adaptability: Develop the ability to connect things in non-linear ways.  Outside the box thinking, flexibility and creativity will allow you to add value and develop new solutions in ways on the human brain can.

Digital transformation provides significant challenges and risks but when approached appropriately also allows for tremendous opportunity.  Handled correctly, there has never been an opportunity to have a bigger impact or make a bigger difference but to do this, we must understand the rules of the game are changing. Use the five above tips to support your successful digital transformation journey.

Lou Markstrom is the co-author of Unleashing the Power of IT: Bringing People, Business, and Technology Together, published by Wiley as part of its CIO series. Over the past 25 years, he has worked with over 35,000 people to create high performance organisations, teams and individuals.

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