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Digital transformation is not about technology–it’s about change. It is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers.

As cited by Salesforce, “Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. This reimagining of business in the digital age is digital transformation”.

Digital transformation begins and ends with how you think about, and engage with, customers.

Technological change is nothing new—but this round of change is happening at a rate faster than ever before, as it has taken on heightened importance in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The current crisis has forced companies to adapt rapidly to new realities, opening everyone’s eyes to new, faster ways of working with customers, suppliers and colleagues.

There is no doubt that the pandemic is amplifying the adoption of new and more advanced technologies, however technological advancements and digital transformation were already changing the world over the past two decades, from our standards in living to the very nature of our work. Platforms include analytical tools and applications, mobiles, smartphones, tables, PCs, digital libraries and social media platforms.

For example, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter enable a two-way flow of information and communication between a company and it’s stakeholders – both internal and external – therefore they can facilitate learning tools to monitor industry trends, customer sentiment and competitor analysis.

A cascade of oriented culture information disseminated throughout the company and to customers, clients, suppliers and constituents, to co-create value and innovation through smarter use of digital tools and real-time information. In essence, it is about reaching company stakeholders through smarter performance.

Business digital adoption has been demonstrated in banks transitioning to remote sales and service teams, supermarkets have shifted to online ordering and delivery as their primary business, schools have pivoted to online learning and digital classrooms, doctors have begun delivering telehealth and manufacturers actively developing plans for “lights out” factories and supply chains.

How to accelerate your business’s digital capabilities to keep pace?

Most organisations investing in tech talent to improve efficiencies and speed up innovation, including digital products, are predicted to outlast the pandemic.

In fact, research demonstrates customer-centricity is emerging as the most important consideration when developing new experiences, products, and services as people are engaging heavily through digital channels for the first time.

According to data researcher IDC global spending on digital transformation technologies and services will grow 10.4 percent in 2020 to $1.3 trillion. The pandemic has forced IT leaders to reprioritize their strategic IT roadmaps, with many adopting cloud software for video collaboration and building apps enabling employees to work within social distance practices.

However, it is imperative that digital transformation focuses primarily on challenges of greatest need to the company.

Business owners have the answers, however it’s the questions they may not know.

For example, can we change our processes in a way that will enable better decision-making, game-changing efficiencies, or a better customer experience with more personalisation?

Digital transformation requires talent – assembling the right team of technology, data, and process people who can work together, with a strong leader who can bring about change! Using a plane analogy, technology is the engine of digital transformation, data is the fuel, process is the guidance system, and company change capability is the landing gear. You need them all, and they must function well together for a seamless delivery, for example:

  • Having the right, digital-savvy leaders in place
  • Building capabilities for the workforce of the future
  • Empowering people to work in new and innovative ways
  • Giving day-to-day tools a digital upgrade
  • Communicating frequently via traditional and digital methods.

A recent McKinsey report identified 3 specific questions CEOs need to know.

Firstly, do you have a clear view of where the value is going to be and a road map that will get you there?

Accelerating digital transformation requires CEOs to take a step back and reassess their road maps. For example, coordinated and detailed plans outlining what needs to be done, by whom and when, from the leadership level down to the front line.

To operationalising the road map, it is critical to acquire alignment with the leadership team, identify the job and eliminate non essential tasks, then provide solid teams, with a dedicated budget, and clarity regarding decision rights.

Secondly, what role should business building have to accelerate your company’s entrance into new markets, we well as identify and access new customers?

When enterprises adopt a more structured approach incorporating a clear strategic direction, entrepreneurial talent, and the proper balance between corporate support and operational freedom – the success rate escalates to 67%.

CEOs will have a key role in making sure that the enterprise develops a business-building capability, to sustain new sources of growth and as a hedge against future uncertainties. 

Lastly, how should CEOs rethink talent strategy to ensure your business has the right people as the recovery starts?

As the full economic longer-term impact of the crisis hits, pressure will continue to build to cut costs. CEOs will be faced with difficult people decisions. However, given the importance of talent in accelerating progress, it’s crucial to adopt a mindset to upskill and build skills for your existing employees by developing a talent road map.

The new world of remote working is acclimatising people to the tools and processes that are core to distance education and therefore presents an opportunity to introduce self-serve modules, simulations and collaborative learning environments. In turn, this will likely heighten employee morale and enhance retention rates, ultimately facilitating greater company productivity.

CEOs should ask their business leaders to assess how the needs and behaviors of their most important customers have changed and benchmark their digital channels against those of their competition. This information should form the basis of a renewed digital agenda.

Digital transformations require pre-emptive changes rather than reacting to competitive pressures.

Cross-pollinating various sources, Coraggio has narrowed down the following take-aways:

Align objectives with business goals

Answer the question: What business outcomes do you want to achieve to satisfy your clients expectations?

Be bold when setting the scope

Successful digital transformations are 1.5 times more likely than others to be enterprise-wide in scale, says Laura LaBerge, a McKinsey senior knowledge expert.

Adopt agile execution

Encourage risk taking, enabling even lower-level employees to make decisions, fail fast and learn. And recognise IT Departments need to co-exist with the company to enable the best business decisions moving forward.

Over the next decade, all industry sectors will be transformed either by new players disrupting established ways of doing business or by established players whose leaders believe that digital transformation is a competitive imperative now and in the future.

After all, in the words of Henry Ford “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”.

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