Five key drivers of successful digital transformation strategy

“Businesses are changing the way they operate. They need to deliver fierce customer loyalty and deep employee engagement to win. It’s all about people: empathy at mass scale as the business imperative of the 21st century.” 

This quote from ServiceNow CEO, Bill McDermott, has stuck with me over the years, and is a message that should resound in the boardroom of every organisation. True digital transformation is not just a means of better serving customers, it changes the mindset of an organisation. It’s not simply a case of adopting new tools and technologies to improve business processes, workflows, and the delivery of services, it’s about creating a unified vision across your organisation. Such a profound paradigm shift in culture must be led from the C-suite. 

As new tools and technologies continue to create windows into new markets and increase efficiencies, it is tempting to prioritise technology adoption above other areas. In financial services, for example, the need for improved digital offerings spans all industry verticals, with 91% of businesses involved in a digital initiative. The pandemic also accelerated the needs of customers for increased capabilities across digital channels. 

It is only natural then that technology is seen as the silver bullet solution to ramping up innovation and enabling transformation, but this is only true in the short term. A technology solution might have the potential to revolutionise processes, but how disruptive will it be to your workforce when it comes to implementation? Do you have the necessary organisational agility to adapt to change? 

If organisations wish to succeed with their digital transformation strategies long term, the C-suite must drive a more holistic approach. As Gartner suggests, “without a shared vision across the organisation, digital transformation efforts will continue to stall.” 

With that in mind, here are five key drivers to enable that shared vision: 

  1. Be lean: Cutting down waste when it comes to everyday business processes is an essential part of transformation. Technology has its part to play but identifying operational deficiencies must be prioritised. Understanding employee pain points through increased monitoring and feedback is an effective way to do this. Only then can true business problems be identified.
  2. Be agile: A core component of delivering services effectively relies on creating the organisational structure that supports agility. Reorganising teams and creating a collaborative culture that enables cross-functional capabilities will break down silos and accelerate delivery of services. Just as lean practices will improve processes, an agile culture will reduce bottlenecks and handoffs between departments, establishing a unified approach to attaining true transformation and achieving business goals.
  3. Improve employee experience: We have known for some time that key hurdles to change management are employee resistance and ineffective leadership. Making employees feel listened to, valued, and investing in the talent that will drive positive change is key.
  4. Fail fast: When a lean and agile culture is in place, an iterative model of improvement takes hold. This allows teams to experiment, fail fast, and to adapt to change at pace. Empower line managers to try new things and adjust accordingly whether they work or do not. Failure should not be taboo, and we should not be afraid to fail when we are trying to improve.
  5. Technology adoption: As we approach each business problem, we should, of course, seek to understand whether a technology solution is possible, or even preferable. There may be a perfectly good tool that enables change, but how disruptive will the change be, and will it come at the expense of employee or even customer experience? Tools and technologies can be the silver bullet solutions, but only when properly implemented.

According to Gartner, 87% of senior leaders say digital transformation is a business priority, but without proper consideration, and organisational readiness, true digital transformation will not be achieved. To get there, firms must take a holistic approach and achieve buy-in from basement to board level, so that transformational strategies can be scaled and sustained.