Digital transformation reality check: 6 requirements for success

A successful digital transformation initiative requires careful planning. Consider this six-point reality check before you start your journey
90 readers like this.

Over the past three years, no single trend has influenced the world around us more than digital transformation. From remote work to emerging technologies to a dramatic expansion of e-commerce solutions, people and organizations throughout the world are exploring new ways to automate their everyday lives in pursuit of improved performance and efficiency.

Setting goals for automation and digitalization may seem simple, but the nuts and bolts of their implementation can be surprisingly complicated. A digital transformation initiative could be hampered by the transition from legacy technologies, cybersecurity risks, or even just employees who are resistant to change.

Even a limited transformation involves tremendous complexity, as IT teams must navigate hybrid work environments, a combination of company-owned and private devices, and a growing range of third-party microservices that can help to automate individual business functions.

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

When your organization embarks on a new digital transformation effort, you must perform a reality check to fully understand where you are today, where you’re going, and how you plan to get there.

6 digital transformation strategies for success

Here are six requirements for a successful digital transformation:

1. Prioritize user experience

Today’s users expect their digital experiences to be fast, easy, and personalized. Consumers are no longer making apples-to-apples comparisons with an individual industry; instead, they may compare a poor experience with their personal banking app to the superior customer service they received from an online retailer.

Whether your end user is an employee or a consumer, you must prioritize a friendly, intuitive interface that makes it easy to accomplish goals with minimal friction or disruption.

Whether your end user is an employee or a consumer, you must prioritize a friendly, intuitive interface that makes it easy to accomplish goals with minimal friction or disruption.

2. Embrace AI and automation

When your organization invests in digital transformation, you’re demonstrating your commitment to being at the forefront of technology. However, maintaining that position is only possible through continuous improvement and innovation, which require artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies. These solutions use pattern recognition and data correlation to deliver steadily improving user experiences. As more and more satisfied users engage with the platform, the automated tools create a virtuous cycle of improvement that ensures long-term technical superiority.

3. Commit to cloud computing

Modern enterprises must be able to conduct business anytime and from anywhere with a reliable internet connection. To facilitate this freedom, organizations must transition from exclusively on-premises systems to cloud computing architectures. Cloud computing services are vital for the real-time remote collaboration that has become a part of everyday business operations.

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

4. Adopt strong security practices

While cloud computing offers tremendous benefits for flexibility and productivity, it can also carry serious risks if not secured properly. Cybersecurity and data protection practices should be built into your organization’s cybersecurity practices from Day One. In particular, multi-factor authentication and zero-trust security models can make a huge difference in ensuring that sensitive data is available only to those authorized to see it.

5. Break down silos

In an organization that has yet to undergo digital transformation, an IT team will build or purchase tools, and business teams will choose how and whether to use those tools. With digital transformation, the wall between those teams must be torn down. IT and business development leaders must work together to define the organization’s goals and develop automated solutions purpose-built to meet those goals.

[ Also read: Digital transformation: 3 common mistakes to avoid. ]

Breaking down silos can also help facilitate new levels of creativity and innovation. A business executive may not have known that a certain technical solution was even possible, for example, or an IT leader might have misunderstood the purpose of a specific tool or platform. Business and IT teams can only reach their full potential when they learn from each other and work together toward a common goal.

6. Stay open to new business models

According to research from McKinsey, nearly 70 percent of large-scale transformation programs don’t reach their stated goals. Digital transformation requires business leaders to be open to radical change, even when those changes may conflict with their current strategies and beliefs.

Embracing data-driven insights and automation may lead an organization to realize that its existing strategies are misguided or inefficient. By challenging the status quo, enterprises can take advantage of new opportunities and ensure that their digital transformation leads to success.

Every business initiative, from traditional sales campaigns to the most innovative digital transformations, requires careful planning, flexibility, and measurement to ensure success. Don’t expect good things to happen overnight or without considerable effort. A digital transformation reality check is necessary to ensure sustainable, long-term progress.

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

Ashvin Kamaraju is the chief technical officer and vice president of engineering for Thales Cloud Protection & Licensing (CPL), a division of the French multinational company that provides services for the aerospace, defense, transportation and security markets.