Digital Transformation Decoded: The CEO’s Playbook
We are in a period of massive and irreversible disruption.
Businesses in every industry are undergoing change at unprecedented speed. For companies that fall behind on digital transformation, playing catch up will feel something like running after a moving train.
Until recently, all things tech-related fell on the CIO’s shoulders. Now, every aspect of business demands greater technology capabilities.
Creating a strong digital strategy has become a top item on the CEO’s agenda.
This means CEOs must become fluent in technology, stay abreast of digital trends, and constantly innovate. Digital transformation isn’t as simple as purchasing a new CRM or HR platform. It’s not just digitizing formerly manual processes.
Leading a digital transformation calls for an entirely new outlook on the way you do business.
Digital transformation, explained
We’ve all heard people talk about “digital transformation,” but not many people understand what it means.
We define the term as efforts to rewire all operations across an organization to fit the ever-evolving digital world. This involves adopting a robust digital strategy, implementing new technology and improving the customer experience with digital tools.
It is important to note that digital maturity is not a static end-point. Digital maturity demands ongoing adaptation to a changing digital environment.
Many forces drive companies to pursue digital transformation
New technology, developing data and analytics software, emerging digital companies, and consumer demands are powerful influencers.
Without the successful adoption of innovative digital tools, it will be impossible for companies to keep up with competitors.
Why transformation should be a strategic priority
The need to digitally transform is clear. As new, innovative companies crop up, and as traditional competitors go digital, the race for customers has never been higher.
Organizations that resist the technology revolution will find it difficult to satisfy consumer demands for instant, personalized service. They will find it nearly impossible to survive.
Rephael Sweary, President and Co-Founder of WalkMe, put it this way:
“As we head toward 2020, the world will become more reliant on digital, and consumers will favor businesses that can offer a digital experience. Companies need to anticipate more disruption.
Like a snowball gaining speed and size as it rolls down a mountain, this is one trend that is showing no signs of slowing down.”
Digital transformation requires a new mindset
To succeed in the digital age, companies need to build a new mental framework. We can’t think of change as a process with a beginning, middle and end, but as a constant variable.
To truly create a change culture, leaders must embed business agility and adaptability into the corporate values.
They must also develop a new set of leadership traits.
The most important traits for leaders during digital transformation and beyond are transparency and communication, accountability, an openness to learn, and a spirit of innovation. They must be strategic but flexible. They must demonstrate accountability and trust.
While digital capabilities rise, digital IQ is declining
As the rate of technological development accelerates, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for companies to keep pace.
According to PwC’s latest Digital IQ Report, the digital IQ of most businesses is on the decline.
Self-perception within these companies is also changing as executives realize how quickly the digital world is developing. In 2017, 52% of companies rated their digital IQ as strong. In 2016 it was 67% and in 2015 it was 66%.
Top performing companies do this
PwC found a link between a high digital IQ and financial performance.
According to the report, companies with high financial performance and digital IQ look like this:
- They have a broad definition of what it means to be digital
- They have a deep understanding of the relationship between the human experience and technology
- They believe improving the customer experience is a main expectation from software investments
- They prioritize innovation, and are more likely to have dedicated innovation teams
The biggest obstacle to digital transformation
People hate change. It’s human nature.
When everything seems to be working, introducing something new is scary. What if the change fails? What if the change demands new processes and rules and software that make daily tasks more challenging?
These are the types of fears employees feel when the organization is on the cusp of change. They are particularly strong when that change involves implementing new technology.
Of all of the obstacles that can derail your digital transformation initiative, the human component is the most significant.
Resistance to change is the single most important and difficult challenge to overcome.
But by being proactive, you can prevent the greatest barriers to change and make sure your digital transformation efforts go smoothly.
To do so, make sure your employees understand that change is an opportunity, not a threat. Be transparent about what will be different, and communicate as consistently as possible. Invite employees to share their ideas to inform the change, and provide feedback once it is underway.
If you give employees a seat at the table, they won’t only provide valuable insight, they will champion the change initiative.
Don’t forget the software implementation challenge
On top of the personnel challenges, choosing and implementing software comes with its own set of challenges.
There are a few key considerations executives must account for before selecting enterprise software:
1. Assess the current state and identify the pain points you want the software to cure.
2. Think about the features you want the software to have.
3. Consider organizational growth, and ensure the tool is scalable.
4. Assess the software’s security features.
5. Solicit input from future end-users—what’s most important to them?
6. What kind of data will the platform generate, how can you leverage it?
7. What is your budget?
8. What kind of employee training will you provide?
Training and ongoing support are your keys to success
You might do everything right to prepare your employees for your digital transformation. But when it comes down to implementing new software, inadequate training will render all that prior work useless.
Effective training is critical to the success of your digital transformation.
Without it, employees will become frustrated and demoralized. They won’t be able to perform their tasks efficiently, and overall productivity will drop.
Traditional training models, such as classroom sessions and webinars, no longer fit the current corporate paradigm. Instead, training tools that provide personalized, contextual guidance at the time of need are most effective.
A Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) is a proven effective software onboarding tool. It automatically detects user friction and delivers real-time navigational prompts to guide employees through tasks on any platform with ease. Beyond the implementation period, a DAP eliminates the forgetting curve by providing ongoing support.
Dive into digital transformation with confidence
Everyone agrees that digital transformation is a strategic imperative for business, irrespective of industry. The question is not whether to transform, but how.
Big changes require strong leadership, agility, and momentum. It’s your job as a leader to evolve the corporate culture and gain employee buy-in. You must choose the right digital tools, and provide the best possible training.