With the consumer being more informed than ever and using digital tools not only to communicate but to seek answers, companies are being forced to adapt.
To stay ahead of their competition, companies are battling to be the first to digital transform.
Every industry’s digital transformation will be different. Healthcare is leaning towards EHRs, telehealth, and just beginning to delve into the world of digital marketing. Retail is a little more ahead of the game and looking for the next technology to create experiences, bringing the consumer back in the store. The Financial Services have learned from other industries and are on the precipice of transformation. With the uptake of banking apps, consumers are looking for ways to manage their finances from their own devices.
Marketing has long been ahead of the digital game, adopting social media and other digital marketing tools quickly. CMOs are increasingly being expected to take on more strategic, business roles and are now, more than ever, key members of the board. Digital transformation has also created new job roles. The CIO, CSO, CISO CTO, CDO, CBO and most recently the Chief Growth Officer now direct business more than ever.
What are the Miles on the Road to Digital Transformation?
MILE 1 – IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS
With any strategic move, the first step is always to set clear expectations, to consider what the desired end-game result is.
Typically, the reasons behind the decision to transform fit into one of four boxes. The common factor to remember– Change is Constant. No matter what your inducer, change never stops. Digital transformation should enable your business to adapt to future changes, as well as hit current objectives.
CUSTOMER – Customer demands change. Digital transformation can make your business more agile, so in the future, you can identify and adapt faster.
INNOVATION – Novel approaches have always changed the direction of human endeavor, and answered business challenges. Whether it be a medical discovery changing healthcare, or a new technology changing the way we interact, innovation is a huge advocate for change.
TECHNOLOGY – Whether it be new or existing technology, leveraging what our customers, partners or competitors adopt is a leading cause of the disruption.
ECOSYSTEM – Many factors can disrupt your organization’s or your markets’ ecosystem, a dip in the economy, regulatory changes, Trump becoming President.
MILE 2 – GET TO KNOW YOUR MARKET
Understanding your market and where you fit is vital to digital transformation. Take the time to conduct a ‘SWOT Analysis’ of your organization and your market. This will enable you to identify strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business and your market. It will also help you identify the assets you have or will need. Once this is complete, you will be able to put together your future business model.
OWN ASSETS – Begin by cataloging and reviewing your own digital assets. This is the starting point from which you’ll build a digital transformation strategy.
PROCESS OF INNOVATION – Whilst examining your assets, look at how your company currently manages innovation. Do you foster an environment of experimentation? Do you have cloud capabilities for collaboration? Do you have an open senior management team?
COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE – And look at your competitors. In the words of Neil Patel, ‘Think like a Detective’. This is where growth hacking principles can offer quick (free) ways to check on your competitors.
- What search terms do your competitors’ use?
- Where do they run their digital adverts?
- What technology do they use?
- What are the websites linking to your competitors’ websites?
STUDY THE TECH – And finally, examine the technology available in your market. Look beyond just Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud. There is a lot happening with intelligent automation, Internet of Things and Cybersecurity.
MILE 3 – CHOOSE THE VEHICLE TO TAKE YOU FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD
For the next part of your Digital Transformation journey, it’s time to decide which vehicle will help you reach your end goal.
- Will you acquire an already digital transformed company?
- Will you partner with a 3rd party to guide your transformation?
- Will you build a new culture from scratch?
Many favor partnering or an acquisition to instigate change, as a faster, more direct route to the end goal. To help you pick your vehicle, we’ve gathered together several case studies to provide insight into the option.
MILE 4 – BUILD OUT IT INFRASTRUCTURE
As previously stated, the relationship between the business leaders and the IT department is crucial during the process of digital transformation. There are 6 key approaches to consider when building out an IT infrastructure:
The agile method has impacted the software development side of IT recently.
The theory behind this method is to enable IT departments, in particular, the software developers, to react to consumer demand by producing outcomes quickly in short periods of time. Quick reaction time allows IT to quickly align with the needs of the business.
The agile manifesto is clear:
“We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:
– Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
– Working software over comprehensive documentation
– Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
– Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”
DevOps has been hailed as a pillar of modern IT infrastructure. This process has emerged from the growing need to manage modern, cloud-based infrastructure.
Essentially DevOps refers to a set of practices to encourage the collaboration between software developers and IT professionals. In traditional firms, these functions are kept separate. This process also enables the automation of software delivery and infrastructure changes.
There is no single DevOps tool, rather it is necessary to adopt multiple tools. DevOps does have a close relationship with agile software development.
As-a-service-infrastructure or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), provides virtual computing resources on the internet using cloud technology.
This infrastructure model typically requires a third-party provider to host the hardware, software, servers, storage, and any remaining components. These providers not only host, but also take on responsibility for system maintenance, backup, and upgrade planning.
This infrastructure offers you a highly-scalable solution, which can be adjusted very quickly to fit changing demands. Other popular characteristics include the automation of administrative tasks, dynamic scaling, desktop virtualization and policy-based services.
IaaS is one of three main categories of cloud computing services, alongside Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).
Infrastructure leveraging Intelligent automation are utilizing artificial intelligence and automation. This combination helped companies to move beyond conventional performance, with high levels of efficiency and quality.
Applications range from the routine to the revolutionary: from collecting, analyzing, and making decisions about textual information to guiding autonomous vehicles and advanced robots.
PERSONAS AND CONTEXT
Looking beyond the SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) stack will enable you to stay ahead of the latest trends shaping IT.
The next wave of enablers includes the idea of personas and context. Taking on a marketing principle here, the idea is to accelerate digital services by making the services on-demand, personalized for specific roles, and manage holistically.
DIGITAL SERVICE MANAGEMENT
The rise of digital service management is helping CIOs to handle the growing role of IT in their businesses. The advent of new technology in an enterprise has added to the challenges of the role of CIO. The sheer volume of technology available helping businesses become more agile means that there is more for the CIO to manage than ever before.
MILE 5 – EXECUTION
The final stage of the digital transformation journey is the execution, which requires a holistic, interconnected approach. Remember, this is not a one-time, fixed point on the road.
Change is constant
The ultimate goal of this process is to end up with a business that can quickly adapt to both internal and external factors impacting the market in which they operate. This enables a business to maintain its competitive advantage in the digital world, which is constantly changing and impacted by the latest technology.