Digital transformation: 4 initiatives to start this week

The key to successful digital transformation is to start small and build momentum as you go. Consider starting with these four foundational initiatives
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Most organizations struggle with digital transformation (DX) and never achieve it. An Everest Group study concluded that 73 percent of companies were unsuccessful at providing any value from their digital transformation process. Poor planning and employee resistance are the most common reasons for high failure rates.

The pursuit of DX does not have to commence with large-scale initiatives; smaller projects can increase the likelihood of a successful kickoff. Short-term digital transformation efforts can have immediate effects on business and offer positive customer benefits.

4 digital transformation initiatives to start now

The DX journey is about starting small, embracing the journey, and building momentum along the way. The four initiatives below will help position you to take the first steps toward digital transformation.

1. Identify opportunities to automate

Around 35 percent of an average workload is repetitive and mundane. The annual financial loss of repetitive tasks can be over $1.47 million for a U.S. organization with 500 people.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the use of software bots to complete routine, dull tasks with greater efficiency than humans. With it, compliance, accuracy, and productivity have all increased by 9290, and 86 percent, respectively.

[ Also read Digital transformation: 5 steps to boost your progress. ]

A four-step readiness investigation can set your organization on course for RPA success:

  • Needs assessment: Identifies which, if any, processes are good candidates for RPA
  • Impact analysis: Helps to recognize how RPA will impact the process and whether it will be positive or negative
  • Feasibility analysis: Determines if your processes and/or RPA strategy are aligned with accessible resources
  • Complexity assessments: Defined by the number of applications involved, frequency of human intervention, steps required to complete a task, etc.

This investigation can start at the foundational level by exploring a single workflow. Any individual in an organization regardless of an overall strategy or technical expertise can initiate and manage RPA.

Citizen development is the process of non-technical users building and developing software bots for either their own consumption or for their team with minimal to no coding. By building their own automation, employees can perform their jobs more efficiently; helping the company to reduce operating costs and IT backlogs.

2. Cloud migration readiness

Cloud migration is the process of migrating electronic assets from local servers to the cloud. Cloud storage is rapidly overrunning on-premises data warehouses because of its many positive business impacts including scalability, speed, collaboration, storage capacity, integration, cost reduction, loss prevention, and rapid ROI. 

Some of the many benefits of cloud adoption include:

  • Cost reduction
  • Innovation
  • Customer management
  • IT simplification
  • Agility
  • Increased business results

All are definite business advantages, but the first hurdle for organizations is to assess their preparedness for migration.

Cloud adoption readiness is the process of examining applications and data to determine if they can be moved to the cloud with minimal impact on operational continuity. This process helps to ensure a smooth migration.

Conducting a cloud readiness assessment allows for proper operational planning to ensure a seamless migration.

[ Related read: Moving cloud workloads: 4 essential strategies ]

3. Build an AI strategy foundation

A solid foundation is the core of any successful artificial intelligence (AI) strategy. To begin, you’ll need:

Quality, accessible data. Quality data serves as the DNA of AI. Access to quality data is key. Compliance with rules and regulations within your territory is a must.

Analysis of data set for quality is based on:

  • Accuracy
  • Completeness
  • Consistency
  • Timeliness
  • Uniqueness
  • Validity

Buy-in from leadership. Building an AI strategy is contingent on getting support across all levels of management. Verification and accessibility of enterprise data is crucial. Once complete, it’s time to put the wheels in motion for buy-in. According to results from McKinsey’s global survey on AI, good overall leadership is significant to the successful implementation of AI. Succinctly presenting the positive business impacts of AI can help to get leadership on board with your strategy.

The key to getting organizational buy-in with AI is to:

  • Calculate ROI
  • Present the positive impacts of AI initiatives
  • Implement smaller projects first to gain momentum (larger AI projects can be slow to yield results)

Shrink the AI knowledge gap. Once managers buy-in, getting the rest of the team caught up on AI is critical. For several companies, employing additional AI talent is not a feasible option. Educating existing workers on artificial intelligence and data science is cost-effective because it gives teams the tools they need to participate in and advocate for the AI strategy.

A compromise would be to take a hybrid approach to your AI skills gaps: hire a few AI engineers to manage the AI strategy while also training current employees on some basic AI engineering practices.

4. User experience (UX) audit

Customer acquisition in an information age is paramount. Conducting a usability audit can detect areas of customer abandonment along their digital journey.

A UX design usability audit helps to identify usability problems in the design of a company’s digital products, including websites, apps, and other client-facing technologies.

There are many ways to measure UX maturity. The ISO 9241-11 standard recommends the following metrics to determine usability:

Effectiveness: The accuracy and completeness with which users achieve specified goals

Effectiveness can be represented as a percentage by using this simple equation:

Effectiveness formula

Efficiency: The time the participant takes to successfully complete a task

Efficiency can be calculated with the equation below:

Task Time = End Time – Start Time

Satisfaction: Ease of use

Both during and after a test user has attempted a task, it is helpful to check in with them along the way. Identifying pain points, high points, confusion, or ease of use, as the users are experiencing them can be helpful in cleaning up and solidifying the design journey.

Let your digital transformation journey commence

Fundamentally, digital transformation changes operations and how value is delivered to customers. Touching the entire organization and impacting the business model, DX initiatives are critical. Although studies have determined that most companies are unsuccessful at providing any value from their digital transformation process, starting on a smaller scale can lead to greater chances of success. It’s essential to have patience when implementing DX initiatives as the process can take up to five years.

Smaller, short-term initiatives can increase acceptance, build confidence, and positively affect business operations. Starting small can help lead to big DX wins.

[ Discover how priorities are changing. Get the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report: Maintaining momentum on digital transformation. ]

Siva Anna is Senior Director of Enterprise QA at Apexon (formerly Infostretch), a Silicon Valley digital engineering professional services company.