Digital transformation refers to everything from IT modernization (such as cloud computing), to digital optimization (or DevOps), to the creation of new digital business models. The term has become widely used to refer to even modest initiatives such as putting services online or legacy application modernization.
But while digital transformation is a buzzword, few businesses know how to create a strategy in order to successfully transform.
At Integrity almost everything we do falls within digital transformation. Whether launching a mobile-optimized employee and contractor COVID-19 screener for the area’s largest health system, crafting a modern cloud-native financial loan processing app or actually bringing online the entire value chain of a regional B2B wholesaler of low-voltage electronics, we work daily with innovative leaders to digitally transform their businesses to better serve their employees, vendors, customers, partners and investors.
And do you know what’s at the core of every digital transformation effort we’ve completed?
People and culture.
Despite all of the fancy acronyms and technology terms (and trust me, we have a zillion of them), digital transformation only occurs when people and cultures align to embrace the change.
The opposite is also true — people fighting change is likely a root cause of any digital transformation failure.
Here are a few keys we’ve found to help produce the most effective transformations for our clients.
Often established by the CEO/owner, the senior management team needs to consistently embrace the vision and the story for transformation. For example, if your goal is to achieve a significant increase in employee productivity, don’t lose sight of that, even when the process of switching to digital tools sets some individuals back.
There will be tons of failure along the way, so the clarity and consistent support of the vision by the senior leaders is critical.
Change is hard for everyone, and this process will expose some very painful truths within every organization. People may be frustrated while learning new systems and processes. Others may resist the change altogether.
Actually taking the time to understand the impacts of the change on every member of the team is critical to ensure success.
Large-scale digital transformations take longer, are more disruptive and cost more than anyone ever hopes for. In addition, the changes are more difficult than anyone plans for, therefore the only path for success has to include being super honest and transparent with everyone involved.
If it works offline, then it should work online. Before trying to create new innovations, let’s just take what works and digitize it. As an example, when working with our B2C consumer packaged goods clients:
New digital communication channels and remote team collaboration should be embraced by senior leadership as a vehicle to support change. Though in-person communication is challenging to replicate for clarity and collaboration, there are incredibly useful tools and platforms that make it easy, efficient and more personable than sending standard emails.
At Integrity, we use Slack to digitally connect throughout the day and Google Meet for smaller team work sessions.
You’ll hear Integrity say this often, but digital transformations are never “done.” It’s more important to start the process and show incremental changes than wait for a big-bang revolution.
The results of innovative digital transformations can be mind-blowing — from massive increases in sales to more loyal customers, from a more engaged employee base to significant savings due to workflow automation.
More importantly, as Sir Richard Branson says, “Every success story is a tale of constant adaptation, revision and change,” so it’s critical for every organization to adapt to today’s digital world.
ChatGPT today -- in the time of Google Search -- reminds me of years ago, during the advent of Internet Search itself. When search showed up, life changed dramatically.
Some may say SEO is dead with the rise of AI, but with its undeniable evolution, it's still alive, kicking, and as important as ever.