For months we’ve been overwhelmed by headlines claiming COVID-19 as a major catalyst behind the sudden acceleration in digital transformation (DX). Businesses with long-term DX plans are being forced to change course, while many small and mid-market companies are only just getting started. These technology-first transformations are essential to thriving in any climate, but making drastic decisions overnight could end up costing companies in the long run. If you’re one of the many organizations scrambling to catch up, the first question you should really ask is not which technologies to adopt first, but instead, how will these new efforts (and dollars spent) bring value to my business?
The path to digital maturity looks different for everyone, and it requires several key components in order to work. At a high-level, this includes total buy-in from leadership (not just those in the IT department), making smart choices about the technologies you’ll adopt, and building a holistic strategy that ensures you can scale your investment throughout the entire organization. Here are five things to keep in mind as you begin 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 a period of time, but you’ll be using every ounce of endurance you can muster. Simply put, the situation is too high risk to dive in without a plan.
2. Digital transformation starts at the top
As Deloitte notes, digital transformation is no longer squarely on the shoulders of IT departments. Leaders throughout the organization are taking charge when it comes to technology, including CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and leaders in strategy, innovation, and R&D. For DX to be truly successful, you need every key player to be engaged from the start, and to remain committed throughout the journey. With this in mind, company leaders should meet regularly 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 out 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 a smart start, but even the most high-tech organizations require strategic planning and execution. Only then can companies evolve to a point where they’re in harmony with the market and can easily keep up with customer demands. Every industry must consider how its tools can be leveraged to scale repeatedly and strategically. Do your homework. Spend some serious time with the DX dream team you’ve assembled and don’t leave the room until you’re ready to address your pain points and technology gaps.
4. Improving user experience 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 user experience is crucial for every stakeholder, digital leaders are quick to streamline outdated processes and bring legacy systems up to speed. They know that by doing these things, they’re far more likely to see a bigger return on value over time. As you’re creating (or reworking) your digital transformation strategy, plan for regular updates along the way. As customer demands and expectations shift, this will make it easier for you to follow suit.
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 brings better ROI. Need proof? Look no further than a recent report from Accenture, which notes that digital leaders see more than twice the amount of annual revenue growth over their competitors.
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 the full potential and value of its capabilities to ensure that it will be used to drive long-term financial gain.