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Digital Transformation: A Roadmap for Success

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Shenan Sherwell
ByPor Shenan Sherwell

Digital Marketing consultant specializing in SEM (SEO , PPC) and content marketing strategies. Actively creating and implementing omni-channel digital marketing strategies focused on driving business growth through new technologies and the inbound methodology.
With a background as a front end and WordPress developer and, as a graphic and motion designer, Shenan walks the thin line between creative and technical thinking.

Digital Transformation might seem to be a newly trending topic, but it began to emerge in the early 1990s, with the widespread adoption of the personal computer, the digitalization of data, and the advancement of computing processors.

By 2019, however, Digital Transformation had become the number one priority of IT initiatives worldwide. And the number of companies participating in the change is only expected to increase, with spending on Digital Transformation set to reach $2.3 trillion globally by 2023.

The Current State of Digital Transformation

The introduction of the smartphone, social media, wireless internet, and exponentially smaller and more powerful computers– in conjunction with new technologies like Virtual and Augmented Reality, the IoT, AI, and ML– has led to a revolution in the way we gather and process information.

All of these technologies have changed the way we interact and communicate with each other, powering the need for a “digital transformation” to keep up with this new environment. This could mean the adoption of new technologies, changes in procedures and communication channels, the development of new tools, or even an evolution in services and products to better accommodate the target audience.

Especially since 2020, with the rise of COVID-19, Digital Transformation has become a make-or-break issue for businesses in a wide variety of industries and services, determining success or failure against competition.

What Digital Transformation Means for Business

Digital Transformation means opportunity— opportunity to innovate a niche or optimize business processes, to create new products and services, and to try out new communication channels that better reach and interact with audiences.

Part of Digital Transformation includes the adjustments required to stay relevant and competitive in the current digital landscape. With new threats in cybersecurity, changes in data and privacy compliance, and user behaviors that prove big evolutions in business environments; it’s vital to spot potentially game-changing technologies and be quick to take action to keep a competitive advantage.

Roadmap to Succeed in Digital Transformation

The urgency to keep up with emerging trends has created an urgent market need to adopt the latest technologies. Failing to spot these disruptive technologies or failing to optimize their advantages, can come at great cost.

Take the example of how Blockbuster failed to recognize Netflix as the industry’s disruptive innovator… and paid a heavy price.

A delicate balance is needed between adopting a potentially disruptive technology and learning to identify which tools are just passing trends. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by new options, too quickly transforming too many aspects of your business, and ending up with less-than-positive results.

The roadmap below outlines 4 main steps to identify priorities and opportunities, assess and evaluate risks, gather necessary resources, and identify stakeholders– all that you need to facilitate valuable solutions’ development and implementation.

Analyze – Discovery – Scope

As with every big adjustment, the first step is preparation. Do your homework, identify opportunities and possible roadblocks, figure out the scope of the project, and set the correct stakeholders for a smooth operation.

This is the right time to be ambitious. Evaluate different opportunities and identify the elements that have the best potential, and don’t be afraid to shoot for the stars.

But this is also the time to be mindful and anticipate possible roadblocks, in order to avoid being part of the 70% of IT projects that end in failure. While that number is daunting, proper planning and discovery from the start can prevent pitfalls like not delivering the project on time, changing objectives, lacking support or resources, etc. So take Discovery seriously, and minimize risks from the start.

Plan – Strategize

Map out a blueprint. Create a step by step plan with realistic objectives that you can achieve in a timely manner. Set goals or key performance indicators to measure success, as well as milestones for every step to keep progress organized and under control.

Round up the right people and resources, ensuring the tools and the support you need to achieve your objectives. Because digital transformation is happening across all departments and business processes, the right team to implement these changes will vary from one organization to the next, or depending on the details of the transformation itself; that said, one individual who should always be at the helm is either the CIO or CTO. He/she should guide the company’s digital business transformation efforts, set strategies, and assess digital capabilities, as well as effectively communicate the mission and goals to the organization’s leaders.

During this strategizing phase, ask yourself these questions to make sure that you’re headed in the right direction:.

  • Are you looking to transform or to optimize?
  • What are your process steps and milestones?
  • Who will be responsible and what support and resources will be required?

Execution – Implementation

Begin the execution phase with a proof of concept to ensure project viability and assess risks before investing time and resources.

After a successful proof of concept, make sure to secure senior management’s support and commitment. Digital transformation requires full commitment and a clear vision of the adjustments’ desired results and potential consequences. Backtracking may be impossible or come at a great cost. Be sure to, as much as possible, follow your clearly delineated plan, with important milestones set to a calendar.

Throughout the entire process, ensure that your team has the support it needs. In addition to the obvious resources, this also means having the right leader to guide the crew through a well-defined transformation methodology. Agile and Waterfall are two of the best known development strategies, both very popular and effective. That said, WebCreek uses an Agile – Waterfall hybrid methodology, which allows clients to reap the benefits of Waterfall’s overall structure and the dynamic possibilities of Agile iterations.

Measure – Test – Adjust

In a way, digital transformation is all about gathering, interpreting, analyzing, and consuming enormous amounts of data. It’s therefore crucial to set measurable KPIs, gather data needed to evaluate the initiative’s success, and put in place the tools and methodology to effectively analyze that information.

Have a QA available for the entire process to ensure that development and implementation are on track to achieve your goals. Because the QA will likely spot new variables and needed fixes, keep a flexible approach to easily respond to emerging challenges. Also keep everyone in the project aware of changes, always informing key stakeholders and making sure that they’re on board with required adjustments.

Avoiding Pitfalls

A digital transformation can be a very demanding and challenging endeavor, with lots that can go wrong. Staying focused, without getting overwhelmed or lost in the process, requires detailed analysis and self-awareness, with the response of setting goals that are measurable and obtainable in a timely manner.

And remember, get full commitment from your organization’s upper management, with total support of the appropriate resources to succeed in the transformation.

It’s wise to be realistic, but ambitious, while setting your objectives. Be thorough and do your homework, consider augmenting your IT capabilities, and do not be afraid to seek help from friendly IT professionals that are nearby and ready to help.