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Digital transformation: 11 emerging lessons
Digital transformation fatigue hits many organizations. Refocus your efforts with some new lessons on what’s working and what needs to stop
6. Digital leaders expect problems
“Companies that plan well and anticipate the pitfalls are making great strides in executing digital transformations,” says Caplan. “These organizations include a contingency in terms of time and budget and effectively manage expectations. Additionally, when using third parties to drive transformations, they include expected outcomes as payment incentives.”
7. Align, align, align
Although those seeing progress in digital transformation can offer flexibility to individual business units to drive their own agenda, there is a common theme among those achieving enterprise-level value: alignment. “100 percent of successful enterprises in our research suggested that their leadership has strong shared vision around DT initiatives’ importance for the future,” says Joshi.
In addition, 70 percent of these enterprises said that designing digital strategy in conjunction with overall corporate strategy is crucial.
8. Old-fashioned communication required
Think direct conversation, not email. “Don’t underestimate the value of targeted in-person communications,” advises Lyke-Ho-Gland. “Because digital is so broad and for many, a scary or nebulous concept, best-practice organizations take the time to engage each business with what it means in their organization, ways it can help each business, and set up conversations about potential needs.”
[ Read also: 9 must-read books to make you a stronger communicator. ]
9. Digital roadmaps will be fluid
Because technology and business changes happen so fast, rolling plans and ongoing exploration and recalibration are key. Specifically, there is a need for a robust feedback loop, says Lyke-Ho-Gland. “Employees who are experiencing the transformation need to feel like they have a voice, and the organization needs an efficient and transparent process to synthesize and respond to their feedback.”
10. Define exactly what you mean by digital transformation
“There may be a tendency to simply overuse the term ‘transformation,’ which may have diluted the meaning and intent of the term,” says Elizabeth Ebert, an advisory services executive at Avanade.
It’s crucial to both set expectations and deliver on them. “Make sure transformation deals actually drive specific and actual transformation so that the term, focus, and commitment maintain their value within your organization.”
[ Some leaders cringe at the phrase “digital transformation.” So how can you talk about it? Read also: Why people love to hate digital transformation. ]
The most successful transformations have a clear, concise vision that is driven by leaders and engaged staff who understand why they’re doing the work, said Cindy Anderson, vice president of brand management at the Project Management Institute. “Know why you are doing what you are doing. Connect it to your customers’ needs. Involve your staff meaningfully in creating and executing the transformation.”
11. You’ll never be done - but know when to hit pause
Successful organizations understand that digital transformation is not a one-and-done project. “If you embrace digital transformation, you’re embracing perpetual change,” says Laroia. Although the work is never done, smart IT leaders know when to press pause and reassess. “94 percent of successful DT enterprises periodically rethink the impact of digital on their business,” says Joshi of Everest Group. “They understand continuous change can create fatigue and stay away from too much of it.”
[ How can open source principles help with your transformation? Get the ebook: Digital transformation, the open source way. ].