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What Do You Need to Digitally Transform an Organization?


Digitization or digital transformation is one of the top trends of the past few years, to the point where, as a buzzword, it’s almost meaningless. However, the truth remains that modern organizations need to embrace digital, and digital transformation is the way to get there.

Yet, while a significant portion of organizations are mobilizing for digitization, research by McKinsey & Company shows that less than a third of transformation efforts are successful. With failure linked to such diverse issues as failure to onboard leadership, failure to change employee mindset, and lack of appropriate tooling, organizations can take clear steps to increase success rate and make a successful digital transformation.

Digital transformation is about adopting digital technology as part of business process and structure. In short, it’s a remediation for businesses that have failed to evolve with technology because it means adopting that technology now that it’s mature. The following steps will help your organization to successfully navigate this step.

Leadership

Leadership is one of the most important elements of any initiative, because it pushes information, motivation, and mindset.

Here, the two most important aspects of leadership are pushing leadership adoption of digital transformation and pushing a sense of urgency surrounding digital transformation. This means that management and senior management all the way up to the CEO have to adopt and be enthusiastic about the transformation.

Most organizations begin training management and senior staff months in advance of implementing a digital transformation initiative for this purpose. Can getting leadership on board actually improve the success of a digital transformation initiative?

McKinsey showed that organizations with actively engaged senior staff have a 73% higher chance of a successful digital transformation.

While this statistic doesn’t look at the fact that organizations with engaged senior staff likely have better implementation and adoption programs as well, it is important to consider.

Communication

Good communication is essential for digital transformation. Here, it’s important to establish a clear narrative surrounding the transformation, so that employees understand what tools are for, why they are there, and to ensure that employees know it isn’t about restructuring and that their jobs will be protected.

This also means creating clear avenues for employees to learn new skills, to understand new technologies, and to adopt the ideas being pushed at them.

Mindset

Fostering the right mindset for digital transformation is important. This means creating a clear line of communication relating to timeline, results, and goals. You can establish a timeline, introduce workshops and classes, offer virtual learning, and create initiatives like virtual or digital signage dashboards showing results to keep employees motivated and moving forward.

  • Programs to develop skills necessary for digital transformation
  • Hiring goals to onboard new people who already have the right mindset
  • Programs designed to identify skills necessary for success and to develop them
  • Adoption workshops to help existing employees make changes to ways of working as well as mindset

Changing mindset is a challenging aspect of digital transformation, but one of the most important for long-term success.

Digital Tools

Digital tools are one of the keys to a true digital transformation. They form the backbone of actually “becoming digital”, meaning that your choice and implementation of digital tooling will likely make or break your transformation.

Choosing the Right Tools

Digital tooling is often what people think about first when they consider digital transformation. Here, the goal is often to upgrade legacy systems to cloud and digital-first applications to enable new possibilities, different ways of working, and more versatile work.

Actual implementation will heavily depend on your organization and its needs:

  • Virtual networks and virtual private networks
  • Central management for networks, servers, and tooling
  • Digital communication through applications, digital signage, and tooling
  • PaaS or IaaS virtualization technologies including computers, servers, and networks
  • VoIP calling, video conferencing, and other communication technologies
  • Virtual print networks

Digitizing technologies can reduce costs but it’s important to assess needs and costs of implementation to determine if moving to a new technology is a profitable decision, and why.

Creating Structure

Supporting digital tools with quality structure including network, servers, central management, and scalability. This will be extremely important depending on the tools and solutions you choose, as you may greatly increase network load or server load by moving more items onto digital.

Here, many organizations should consider creating a very strong network, but may want to use cloud solutions for servers and data storage. Why? Cloud servers are scalable, accessible from anywhere, and have the potential to greatly reduce costs for organizations while offering more features, security, and solutions.

  • Does your network support estimated load and demand with new tooling? E.G. If you implement PaaS tooling and move to Azure with virtual computers, does your network support your needs.
  • Is network automation (security, access management, etc.) currently possible?
  • Is central management currently possible? What changes have to be made to hardware to enable it?
  • Is information easily accessible across the organization? Especially by cross-functional teams?

Process Changes

It’s crucial to follow up changes to tooling with changes in business process and work process. Many organizations begin to implement frameworks like Agile during digital transformation, which necessitates changing processes and work methods. Others attempt to implement digital transformation with no changes to work methods. The latter will most likely fail because the goal of digital transformation is to change how people work.

A successful digital transformation means that employees adopt faster, flexible approaches to work to enable creativity, faster delivery to the consumer, and reduced costs in case of failure.

This means:

  • Implementing automation as a standard element of work, especially for network management, print management, and security
  • Integrating processes into tooling, so employees have to follow them as part of work
  • Integrating documentation and compliance into tooling to ensure it is followed
  • Implementing desired behaviors, such as internal collaboration, into performance management
  • Creating processes to enforce desired behavior, technology adoption, and work-methods, such as weekly retrospectives to discuss how technology was used and what could be better

A digital transformation is about adopting modern technology and using it to become more versatile, to move more quickly, and often to reduce costs. However, these changes can be time-consuming, costly, and sometimes traumatic to the organization itself.

Making change work often relies on taking steps to foster adoption and motivation to change, creating structure to support that change, and creating goals to work towards. Depending on your organization, you will need a combination of motivation and communication, tooling, and business processes to support that to actually succeed.

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