To achieve a successful digital transformation, enterprises must build a digital vision and strategy, as well as create a roadmap to guide technology choices and to fully leverage investments. Let’s discover how to build a digital transformation roadmap by understanding the key elements for change and the ingredients required for realizing a successful business outcome.
What is digital transformation?
Digital transformation is the cultural, organizational and operational change of an organization, industry or ecosystem through a smart integration of digital technologies, processes and competencies across all levels and functions in a staged and strategic way. Digital transformation is predominantly used in a business context.
In general, transformation is called “digital” specifically when technology is used to solve traditional business problems and fundamentally change the way the business operates. A transformation is not just a technology change, nor just an organizational structure change – it impacts the people, process, and physical areas of the organization.
Roadmap – the key to a successful digital transformation
A digitalization roadmap or digital transformation roadmap is an approach to defining and managing a digital transformation effort. It provides a structured way to move through the many programs needed to realize success.
The roadmap begins with an assessment of the digital maturity of the business today, and moves on to a definition of a future vision. Once the assessment and vision are completed, then it becomes possible to identify the systemic gaps that need to be filled. Then those steps can be built into the roadmap.
Knowing the desired end result provides insight into the necessary steps to take along the way and how to arrive at that result. Vision is key to differentiating between adequate digital transformations and truly outstanding and successful digital transformation.
Digital tranformation components
A digitalization roadmap is divided into four major tracks: people, process, technology, and content.
The People Track is about realizing that superior customer experience starts by establishing a customer-centric culture in the organization. In addition, the people track addresses the role of business partners in achieving the vision, personalizing the way buyers engage with the brand both before and after the purchase, and then involving everybody in the company through cross-functional collaboration.
The Process Track is about maximizing organizational efficiency and achieving scalability for the new digital business model. This track requires a complete customer lifecycle analysis, including developing a map of the customer journey. You must understand how every buyer persona engages with your brand during every step of the customer experience lifecycle. Then it becomes possible to build contextualized digital marketing campaigns that are much consistently effective because they are providing buyers with exactly what they need at the moment they need it.
The Technology Track is on building an integrated information infrastructure, which serves as a foundation for integrating data across silos. Information architecture should reflect the landscape of business. A contextualized information architecture is critically important for structuring data and content while tagging them with the appropriate metadata for defining relationships between classes of information. This requires close collaboration between the business stakeholders and the IT practitioners that will build an infrastructure to deliver business value that comes in the form of personalized customer experiences and marketing programs, accurate business insights, and more efficient business processes.
Finally, the Content Track is focused on managing both internal enterprise information and customer-facing content, ensuring that it is accurate, findable by your audience, personalized, and contextualized. This evaluation needs to be done across all digital assets, so that product information is organized contextually to reflect buyer preferences. Enterprise search and external site search are optimized to make the most relevant content findable. Data governance processes will ensure data quality and accuracy.
A few core elements of a digital transformation roadmap
Each company is unique and so is the scope and effort required to achieve a digital transformation of its business. Your digital transformation roadmap is the plan for coordinating and driving change throughout the organization. Depending on how your company manages projects, programs, and investment decisions, your roadmap may need to include some specific content or be presented in a specific manner, but there are a few core elements every digital transformation roadmap should include.
1. An articulation of where you are trying to go
What does digital transformation mean for your company? How much of a transformation do you want to make? What is “good enough”? Companies undertake transformations (of all sorts) because they have a vision of a target state they are trying to achieve. Articulating the leadership vision of this target state (what it looks like, what it feels like and why it is important to the company) is critical for securing support and buy-in from individuals throughout the company that will be required to achieve success. A clearly stated vision that resonates with employees, partners and customers will help ensure everyone’s actions are aligned and promote patience and understanding if the path of change isn’t always smooth and some rough patches are encountered.
2. Your strategy for arriving at your destination
How much time are you expecting the transformation to require? (Months, years?) Are you intending to change everything in one big-bang approach or take incremental steps to reach your destination? Do you understand initially all the changes that must occur or will you determine the details as you progress, using, for example, proofs of concept and prototypes to explore different opportunities? What are the key areas of focus for your transformation that you see as essential to overall success? Having a defined strategy for how you will approach transformation sends the message that you are serious about the change and that this isn’t just a “pie-in-the-sky” idea.
3. Key activities will occur during your transformation
What are the “big rocks” that must be moved or put in place to support the transformation? Every task doesn’t need to be mapped in advance, but you must know the critical changes to complete on time to lead to a successful outcome. For each organization, the key activities will be different. They may be technology projects, organizational restructuring, changes to the supplier ecosystem or modifications to business processes. If you are familiar with project management methods, then these activities will be steps on your critical path. If there are alternatives available, then your roadmap should include high-level cost/benefit projections to help guide decision-making.
4. The milestones should be identified and defined in detail
The destination of your digital transformation journey will often lie “beyond the horizon” or around a series of bends with no direct line of sight from where you are to where you are going. Your digital transformation roadmap should include descriptions of intermediate target states you will achieve as you progress. These milestones will provide a helpful reference to ensure your transformation is on-course as well as a means of measuring progress. They can help set expectations about when people will start seeing value from the transformation and experiencing changes in their work environment. For transformation initiatives expected to require more time to complete, it is often helpful to plan for periods of normalization to avoid the fatigue from continuous change.
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