For digital transformation to be successful, companies need to focus on six pillars beyond just thinking of digital transformation as “Tech-enabled change."
Change is only possible by building the right kind of organization and people are an imperative part of this. The six pillars of digital transformation include; experiences, people, change, innovation, leadership, and culture;
Business must understand the customer journey, behaviours and expectations before investing in technology. These expectations should be the basis of any investment and the way to do this is to focus first on the customer’s experience. This is why companies like Disney, Apple, Starbucks and Nike have become iconic. They lead with experiences and they create deep connections with their customers that go beyond a product or service.
Don’t forget about the employee experience, either. Every interaction your employees have with your company is critical. Are the technology tools you’re providing helping them do their jobs? Is your culture making your workplace efficient and productive? The positivity of this experience has the potential to make or break the productivity and effectiveness of employees to your business.
People might be the most critical part of the six pillars of digital transformation. Without the right talent or without focusing on your employees, your organization will struggle. Critically leaders need to put employees first. Companies that invest in their people, commit to their development and respect their ideas build a loyalty that makes change management much easier to realize within the company.
As technology such as AI, VR, and AR gain momentum, the key is to use this technology to create meaningful experiences that reach employees, customers, and others on a deeper level – still connecting human to human.
It is also important to remember that talent is still critical, even with advancements taking some of the work. Employees should all be on the same page, to push your digital transformation efforts forward.
Any transformation can’t happen without change. People must get behind change in order to realize it. You should go into your transformation, understanding first-hand that change is inevitable—and it might be tough. Communicate your expectations to your employees. Develop a strategy to encourage change and deal with resistance at the same time. Provide the necessary tools and environment for employees to embrace and succeed in this change. If you do this effectively, it will lead you to the next of the six pillars of digital transformation.
Transformation and innovation are not the same. To transform, there must be innovation. Innovation can be defined as a sudden spark of creativity that leads to the creation of something that changes the face of your business. These sparks can be more sudden or they can be incremental. Some of these innovations are massive and completely disruptive of business models while others make a small and meaningful difference that increases customer satisfaction or differentiates an offering in the market. Regardless, the implementation of innovative thinking throughout an organization is key to transformation.
Innovation requires a space of open communication, collaboration and freedom to create. Innovation should be constant, your business always working to further its products or services. Innovation also drives the digital transformation forward by allowing for open space for problem-solving when the going gets tough.
Leadership can come in many forms, but if you want the organization to change, it must come from the top. In an article for Forbes last year, it was found that the majority of tech initiatives fail when the CEO is not involved. However, the CEO should not only be involved, but he or she should lead.
Leaders should be proactive and on the lookout for things coming down the pipeline. As technology moves quickly, there is no time to wait. As a leader, you should also bring order, instead of going with the flow. As much as technology can sound like the perfect plan, take your time to carefully examine all options. Think differently than the rest and lead others within your company to do the same. Don’t just follow the digital transformation crowd – lead it.
The past five pillars can all be wrapped up in one package and form your culture. When asked about where companies should start on a digital transformation journey quite often the question is framed as “What technology(ies) should we invest in to speed up our digital transformation effort”. However it is important to begin with “Culture! Digital transformation cannot survive without the right business culture. By creating an open space where employee and customer experiences reign supreme, where people matter most, change is planned for and innovation takes centre stage, you will then lead your organization into a culture that simply transforms on its own.
These six pillars of digital transformation are the backbone for success. Focusing on these pillars in addition to technology will help your company get ahead of the competition and avoid failure.