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Digital Transformation Decoded: The CEO’s Playbook

Digital Transformation Decoded: The CEO’s Playbook

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By Tamara Rosin

We are in a period of massive and irreversible disruption.

Businesses in every industry are undergoing change at unprecedented speed especially as we are now in the phase of the Next Normal. 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

digital workplace

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.

Since COVID-19, companies have experienced a massive shift from remote work to contactless services.

Raphael Sweary, President and Co-Founder of WalkMe, put it this way:

The shift in technology priorities is unequivocal. Companies pre-COVID-19 might have experimented with “nice to have” tech, but today anything that isn’t crucial to core business must go. The companies that identify the right technologies to suit their needs will grow.”

digital transformation

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 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.

Digital IQ is staying ahead of the game

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, they discovered 5% of surveyed companies dubbed, the Transcenders, that are able to consistently generate ROI on their software investments. 

Credit: PwC

Top performing companies do this

According to the report, Transcender companies that excel at digital do the following: 

  • They mandate change, not just talk about it. 
  • Digital isn’t a byline, but rather their corporate strategy 
  • They invest 33% more than other companies in their technology processes and operating models.
  • They spend more money on upskilling and 63% focus deeply on perfecting their onboarding processes.
  • They understand that transformation never ends and focus on building.

The biggest obstacle to digital transformation

People fear 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.

barriers to organizational change

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.

software implementation

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.

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Tamara Rosin
Tamara’s unique perspective on the impact of digital trends on business strategy has elevated her voice to the leading edge of the digital transformation discussion. She is adept at untangling the complexities of organizational culture, its evolution, challenges, and needs in the digital era. Previously, Tamara served as managing editor for the leading national healthcare publication Becker’s Hospital Review.