When you change something inside a company or an organisation, you may change a process, the composition of a team, the technological equipment or many other things. But when you speak of “transformation” you are dealing with a more radical form of change, something that encompasses all aspects of a company, resulting in something new, similar in many ways to what happens when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.
The entire business model is going to be reshaped, the processes restructured, the workforce re-skilled, the culture changed, the customer experience hopefully improved and all of this is going to be achieved through the adoption of digital technologies. So “digital transformation” is a deep and thorough process, it’s not sufficient to put on a coat of paint and be done. Not surprisingly the people working at digital transformation projects need to be extremely skilled (want to know the details? Have a look at the digital transformation master program to understand all the complexities involved). To achieve success in this perilous field you need to define a very detailed roadmap, to be sure not to overlook any important step.
Building a Digital Transformation Roadmap: where to start?
First of all, bear in mind that digital transformation is not merely a technological transformation. According to research by the Boston Consulting Group, “Only 33% of organisations successfully meet the challenge of digital disruption” and this is because they lack sufficient rigor in the definition of the first phases of the digital strategy. So before throwing yourself into hiring people or restructuring processes you should spend some time considering the bigger picture and answering questions such as:
- How is digital tech affecting your industry, your business ecosystem and your competitive advantage?
- What are your hopes and ambitions and which digital opportunities are more consistent with your current and reachable capabilities?
- What are the desired outcomes?
- Who are your major competitors?
- What is your business going to be like at the end of the journey?
- And maybe most important of all, why do you think you need a digital business transformation?
These may seem like general questions, but they are by no means a waste of time, on the contrary you are going to lose much more time if you don’t reflect on them.
Defining your digital transformation strategy
Once you have a digital transformation vision, you are ready to move on to more operative steps. You have to identify where the digital transformation is going to impact (namely you have to identify the organisation areas) and what you need to transform (business units, product areas, processes, devices, human resources…). Once you have identified clear targets you should prioritise them, focusing at first – if possible – on objectives with high impact that will add the most value to the organisation, linking them to investments and allocating the necessary budget.
Targets should be extremely detailed, for example it would not suffice to say “processes automation”. It’s important to specify the percentage of processes to be automated. Then you have to define who will be in charge of the transformation process. Appointing a digital transformation manager may be a good idea, but that may not suffice because – if the company is quite big – an entire digital transformation team will be needed.
Then you should define all the necessary substeps and the actions to achieve them as well as the temporal sequence of each one, the connected costs. You must of course allocate a budget for each one and decide which tools, technologies and devices you are going to need to realise your vision. During the process you’ll probably need to re-organise the way the company works, adopting a new, agile way of working that should not only exist among the digital transformation team but in the long run pertains to the entire company.