Setting goals when embarking on a journey is crucial to any venture, and this sentiment is no different when it comes to an organisation’s digital transformation journey
Digital transformation is now universally regarded as essential to success, according to our latest research, highlighting that business is heading unequivocally toward becoming digital from top to bottom.
But with so much buzz around digital transformation, it can be all too easy to jump on the bandwagon and begin the process without a clear destination in mind. Everybody else seems to be on a transformation journey, so why risk missing out? But if you don’t truly understand your goals, how can you measure if your journey is a success? A painful reality is that for 70% of businesses, planned transformations fail to reach their goals, making achieving that all important ROI a struggle. Our own research found that less than half of UK businesses have a transformation plan in place, despite many already digitalising key business areas. So how can you ensure you get transformation right?
Define your transformation goals
When beginning any digital transformation initiative, you first need to understand your key objectives. What do you want to achieve through the project? And who should the transformation benefit? This could be your customers, end users, or the wider business. It’s ok to have multiple goals, as long as you have ways to define and measure them.
Digitalisation is an opportunity to remodel the business and achieve things that weren’t previously possible with existing technology, but drivers vary by organisation. You may want to improve the customer experience, improve operational efficiency through automation or increase employee productivity. You may even want to develop a new digital revenue stream, for example, by digitalising an existing product, developing subscription-based alternatives or creating on-demand of freemium business models.
Whatever the driver, identify your transformation goals, ensure they are aligned to the business objectives and put in place clear lines of accountability at each stage. If different stakeholders working towards different goals or expectations, transformation can become complex and challenging. Make sure you gain agreement on transformation objectives from the outset.
Identify any areas of weakness
You need to identify any barriers that may limit your transformation success and take steps to mitigate where possible. For example, it may be that you are lacking leadership to drive the initiative from the top-down. In this case, identify who will lead your digital transformation and ensure a clear vision is defined and obtain support from the C-level to drive digital change through the business.
You could find that your legacy infrastructure won’t integrate with newer systems. If so, distinguish the data you need to support your transformation and what is required to ensure it can be effectively optimised, enriched and exploited. Enlist external expertise to help access and cleanse that data if it is beyond your capability.
In some cases, you may need to design your plan around your limitations. For example, if you need to retain some legacy systems, why not design a hybrid cloud solution around your existing infrastructure and develop a broader cloud roadmap to get you where you want to be long-term, but at your own pace?
Our research also identified skills as a significant barrier to successful transformation. Having access to the right skills is essential to developing and executing a digital transformation strategy, so it pays to understand the skills required to support your transformation. Assess the current capabilities in your organisation to ascertain if the team has the skills needed to support transformation. If talent is not readily available, identify a strategic partner that can fill any gaps.
Learn from others
One of the benefits the sheer of volume of businesses that have already been through transformation is the learnings you can take from their experiences, such as best practice guidelines. A successful digital business needs to be clear on its vision, gain engagement from stakeholders, establish a clear digital architecture and identify the right delivery model. Success may come down to finding the right balance of in-house and external expertise, where the third party can provide the technical know-how and execution while the in-house team owns the vision, drives the requirements and measures the outcomes.
Reaping the rewards of digital change
Digital transformation is essential in protecting any business against a growing raft of competitive threats. While digital transformation can seem complex, it doesn’t have to be if you have clear goals in mind and the right process and plans in place to support them. If you’re struggling with where to start, then seek the expertise of a partner can help shape your transformation roadmap, ideally one that is experienced in digitalisation and cloud migration and can provide more cost-efficient and flexible data management solutions such as colocation.
About the Author
Simon Michie, CTO at Pulsant. Simon joined Pulsant in early 2020 as Chief Technology Officer, he has overall strategic responsibility for our product and service portfolio, platforms, and technology roadmap. Simon has three decades experience in the technology sector, starting out his career in Sales. He then moved into a succession of technical and then managerial roles before co-founding Centric Networks. This ultimately led to a five year tenure as CTO for Redcentric where he modernised the company’s network and cloud offerings.
Featured image: ©Nazar