Operating in a post-pandemic world is not without its challenges. Many companies have spent the last two years accelerating their digital transformation (DX) initiatives, and now, they’re trying to prove DX ROI while also grappling with the growing pains that follow so much sudden change at once.
While many of these changes have been vital to the core functions of business, they require several internal and external shifts to happen in tandem. If you’re one of the many organizations struggling to achieve digital maturity, first recognize that the path to becoming a digital leader looks different for everyone and requires several key components to work. At a high level, this includes total buy-in from leadership (not just those in the IT department), making smart choices about your technology stack, and building a holistic strategy that ensures you can scale your investment throughout the entire organization.
Here are five things to remember as you continue to pave your company’s path to digital maturity.
1. Technology is useless without strategy
There’s a misconception that procuring new technologies will put you on a surefire path to digital maturity — that you’re now suddenly on the cutting edge, ahead of the curve, and finally hold a true competitive advantage. But implementing new technology without a clear strategy is like jumping into the ocean without knowing how to swim. You may keep your head above water for some time, but you’ll be using every ounce of endurance you can muster. Simply put, the situation is too risky to dive in without a plan.
Pro tip: Before investing dollars in new technologies, invest time in building an actionable roadmap.
2. Digital transformation starts at the top
As Gartner notes in a recent article about DX in government, successful digital transformation is not squarely on IT departments’ shoulders. “Ownership of digital transformation must start with the CEO (or person with the equivalent title) — not the CIO,” it states. This isn’t just true for the public sector but for all industries. Digitally mature companies have leaders who take charge of their evolving DX strategies, including CEOs, CFOs, COOs, leaders of innovation, and R&D. These key players must be engaged from the start and remain committed throughout the journey.
Pro tip: Company leaders should meet regularly (at a minimum, quarterly) to evaluate the success of their technologies and processes and reassess the DX plan as needed.
3. Being a digital native does not guarantee your path to digital maturity
Just because a company started with emerging technologies at its core does not indefinitely make it a digital leader. Adopting the latest and greatest software and services right out of the gate is smart, but even the most high-tech organizations require strategic planning and execution (see item no. 1). Only then can companies evolve to a point where they’re in harmony with the market and can stay a step ahead of customer demand. Every industry must consider how its tools can be leveraged to scale repeatedly and strategically.
Pro tip: Do your homework. Spend some serious time with the DX dream team you’ve assembled (remember, this is NOT just one person’s job and may also involve external team members), and don’t leave the room until you’re ready to address your pain points and technology gaps.
4. Improving user experience (UX) is an ongoing process
Digital leaders understand the importance of technology better than anyone, but they’re not consumed by it. They know that true innovation comes from the people who power their business, and they take measures to keep their teams trained on every critical component. Because they realize UX is crucial for every stakeholder, digital leaders quickly streamline outdated processes and bring legacy systems up to speed. They know that doing these things makes them far more likely to see a more significant return on value over time.
Pro tip: As you create (or rework) your DX strategy, plan for regular updates along the way. As customer demands and expectations shift, it will be easier for you to get ahead of the game.
5. Embracing a digital mindset is imperative to success
Digital leaders aren’t focused on finding the answer to just one problem. Instead, they take a holistic approach to every situation and choose solutions that benefit the organization at every possible level. These leaders opt for entire systems rather than single-use tools because they know that a systematic approach improves ROI. Need proof? Look no further than recent findings from the Boston Consulting Group, which show that today’s digital leaders achieve three times higher revenue growth and cost savings from their digital transformations than laggards.
Pro tip: Stop thinking in silos. In a chain-link system, strengthening only one link will not support the others, much like focusing your DX efforts on just one pain point will not solve the rest.
Companies on the path to digital maturity are quick to adopt new technologies, but they also understand that it doesn’t need to happen overnight. It’s easy to fall into fear-based decision-making during unpredictable times, but resisting the urge to do so will help you and your business remain resilient. When adopting any new technology, first evaluate its capabilities’ full potential and value to ensure that it will be used to drive long-term financial gain.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in July 2020 and has been completely updated to reflect the latest industry trends and research.