Digital transformation: 4 pillars for success

The key to digital transformation success is delivering a compelling customer experience. Let these four essential pillars guide your strategy
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If you ask a room full of IT leaders to define digital transformation you’d likely get a variety of responses touching on areas such as strategy, operations, and complexity. These elements certainly are at play, but in my view, the most important component of digital transformation is creating a compelling customer experience – and continuing to do so as new technologies scale and enterprise complexity increases.

Operating under that framework, digital transformation becomes about unifying all of the processes, technologies, data, partnerships, and integrations necessary for delivering the all-important customer experience. Customer-driven digital transformation offers significant enterprise benefits as well. Consider the following findings from Deloitte:

  • Companies with high digital transformation maturity report 45 percent revenue growth
  • 41 percent of highly digitized companies witness a positive impact on sales and marketing
  • 29 percent of these organizations see a positive impact on growth and innovation

4 pillars for guiding digital transformation

Regardless of where your company falls on its digital transformation journey, here are four key pillars that should guide the entire process.

1. Clarity

To be successful, digital transformation should provide clarity – on what the project roadmap looks like, what technologies must be modernized to support the transformation, how processes will be optimized, and what new technologies will be introduced. Finally, and arguably most important, digital transformation should provide clarity on how these elements fit together within the enterprise to usher in the next phase of innovation.

[Get answers to key digital transformation questions and lessons from top CIOs: Download our digital transformation cheat sheet.]

2. Agility

The ability to respond quickly to change is the hallmark of highly digitized organizations. Migrating systems to the cloud can help companies become more agile and move at the speed their customers demand. In addition, cloud capabilities make it easier for organizations to quickly deploy and scale new solutions on top of their tech stack.

[ Learn more about hybrid cloud strategy. Get the free eBook, Hybrid Cloud Strategy for Dummies. ]

3. Resiliency

Another essential digital transformation pillar is resiliency. It’s important to strengthen existing systems and build new ones in such a way that prevents them from breaking. In situations where this is not possible, it’s critical that companies are able to detect failure in near-real-time and respond to it as quickly as possible.

Building systems that are flexible and can accommodate changes over time is another important component of resiliency. The enterprise IT landscape has changed significantly in the last decade and will only continue to evolve in the years ahead. Rigid technology systems that require significant work to adapt to new innovations simply are no match for this environment and can significantly curtail the success of digital transformation initiatives.

4. Sustainability

Sustainability comes into play when organizations think about their long-term goals. If the ultimate aim is to create high-quality, enduring customer experiences, then it’s imperative to design digital transformation initiatives with sustainability in mind.

Actions like using Internet of Things (IoT) devices to monitor, analyze, and identify areas in which environmental impact can be reduced, availing of artificial intelligence (AI) to make renewable energy more affordable and buildings more energy-efficient, and using predictive maintenance to keep distributed systems running are all examples of how digital transformation initiatives can be infused with sustainability principles.

The pillars in action

Tesla is a prime example of a company whose creation has been built on these four pillars. At the outset, it had a vision to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. After identifying electric vehicles as the fastest way to realize that vision, Tesla stuck to the goal with absolute clarity, agility, resilience, and sustainability. Given that Tesla is currently valued higher than any other car manufacturer, it’s an excellent example of how successful organizations can become when adopting these principles.

The path forward

Of course, your organization likely bears little resemblance to Tesla – at least on the surface. But that doesn’t mean that clarity, agility, resilience, and sustainability can’t help you get to the next phase of your digital transformation journey faster, easier, and with a roadmap for continued success.

[Where is your team's digital transformation work stalling? Get the eBook: What's slowing down your Digital Transformation? 8 questions to ask.]

Michael D'Onofrio is CEO of Orbus Software, a leading provider of cloud solutions that enable digital transformation.