Digital transformation is the ultimate buzzword. Almost every business leader claims to know what it means, but far fewer know what it takes to accomplish it in their organization.
The past year has shown that having a modern technology ecosystem is paramount to business agility, growth and long-term success. As the CEO, it’s your responsibility to embrace, encourage and lead the charge to transform your business.
Digital stagnation is the death of success
Prior to the pandemic, only 15% of businesses prioritized digital transformation, which is the replacement of older technology with newer tools. When the need to practice social distancing occurred, these digitally agile businesses were able to quickly adjust to remote work and maintain seamless operations.
The remaining 85% of companies spent the last year catching up, with varying degrees of success. But what successful companies had in common was a willingness — and commitment — to try new tools. During the crisis, organizations that significantly experimented and invested in new digital technologies were twice as likely to report outsized revenue growth.
In general, businesses that embrace digital transformation benefit from improved operational efficiency, faster time to market, increased customer satisfaction and increased revenue. The companies that fail to transform will continue to fall further behind in customer engagement, process efficiency and innovation.
Thomas Sieble’s article for McKinsey & Company said, “It’s increasingly clear that we’re entering a highly disruptive extinction event. Many enterprises that fail to transform themselves will disappear.”
The writing is on the wall. As business becomes more digital, the technology gap will only widen between transformation leaders and followers.
4 steps to lead the transformation
Digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It involves careful planning, implementation and testing — requiring a significant investment of your time and resources. But by following these four steps, you’ll start your company on a path to long-term digital success:
- Reimagine digital transformation
Digital transformation is not a destination, but a journey. If you think of it as something that’s achieved once, you’ll quickly fall behind. The advancement of technology will never stop, and neither can digital transformation efforts.
As the leader of the business, digital transformation needs to be a central part of your role. Research shows that organizations whose CEOs invest a significant amount of time on transformation initiatives are nearly twice as likely to experience a successful transformation.
- Invest in your people
Take the time to understand your businesses’ current capabilities to transform. Do you have the necessary people and skills to bring a new vision to light? Investing in the right talent and expertise can help your company get where it needs to go.
The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2022, 54% of all employees will need significant reskilling to meet rising digitalization. Determine what skills you need to future-proof your workforce and consider your ideal skills when hiring and training. Encourage employees to participate in learning and development programs like employee-led courses, online learning platforms and certificates.
- Develop a culture of disruption
The most common reason transformation fails is a lack of employee engagement. You must instill a culture in which experimentation is encouraged and failure along the way is celebrated. Innovation involves sifting through new ideas — both good and bad — to determine what’s game-changing.
Encourage employees to be evangelists for change. While you have visibility into different departments, you and your C-suite aren’t going to know exactly what tools will work best for each team. Empower your employees to experiment with technology.
- Lean on your partners
The rate of technological change is too fast for most businesses to go it alone. By partnering with an organization that is dedicated to staying on top of new technology, you’ll always be on the cutting-edge of innovation. Trusted Advisors can help you understand the trends in your industry and plan transformation. As neutral sources of expertise, they can help you find the right solutions to scale your business. Companies rely on Trusted Advisors as a knowledgeable resource to help teams procure, design and implement new IT solutions.
The future is here — stay ahead of it
In today’s fast-paced environment, digital transformation must become a regular practice. And it is the CEO’s responsibility to encourage organizational buy-in and participation. With the proper people, culture and partners in place, your organization can successfully undertake digital transformation to not only meet the standards of modern business, but exceed them.
Written by Ian Kieninger.