Digital Transformation | 13 MIN READ

9 Proven Ways to Unlock Digital Transformation Success

Digital transformation is no longer a “someday” item on the average business’ to-do list. It's a crucial metamorphosis period that determines whether or not an organization can deliver a user experience that tech-savvy consumers will love.

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Recent poll numbers underscore the importance executives are placing on digital transformation. 44% of companies have already adopted a digital-first approach to their customer experience, while two-thirds of global CEOs say the're getting that ball rolling before the end of 2019. In short, digital transformations that haven’t already started will soon be underway.

While those numbers sound exciting, they don't make the path to implementing effective organizational change any easier. According to McKinsey, the current digital transformation success rate sits below 30%, and only 16% of organizations said the shift increased performance or the prospect of long-term process sustainability. Yikes.

The good news? There are proven ways to create and execute a digital transformation roadmap that will put your organization in a position to thrive, even in the face of ever-rising consumer expectations regarding digital services.

Let’s go!

 

1. Realize That It’s About Consumers, Not Your IT Tools

Most digital transformations are (wrongfully) borne out of leadership's sudden need to introduce a new IT platform or tool as part of their operations. The assumption is, with new tech replacing obsolete systems, their organization’s fortunes will automatically improve.

Unfortunately, this is the very reason most digital transformations fail. If an organization becomes too obsessed with its own IT investments instead of trying to get out ahead of evolving consumer behaviors, at least a few people are asking the wrong questions.

Frankly, with the amount of robust free or freemium options on the market today, it doesn’t matter what you spend on digital tools. If customers can’t discover, interact with, and build a connection with your brand online, your business won’t survive. Period.

Instead, successful digital transformations are anchored in data concerning IT service needs and wants of consumers. If you're unsure of what those are or where those expectations are going, don't assume. Ask them, listen to all feedback, and ensure that your digital services align with that information.

As the great Maya Angelou once said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Your digital transformation needs to cater to how your customers feel.

To read more about how the right ITSM tools can boost your operational productivity, click over to our blog post!

 

2. Stop Avoiding Risk and Start Embracing Change

If a tech-centric approach is the biggest reason for digital transformation failure, an aversion to risk is a close second.

The uncomfortable truth is simple. Risk-taking is a non-negotiable part of successful organizational change. Can you pursue a digital transformation without putting anything at risk? Sure. Will you enjoy any lasting benefits as a result? Highly doubtful.

If we equate risk aversion to fiscal loss prevention (most conservative business minds do), this approach is only successful when the status quo is acceptable. Ironically, the concept of digital transformation is built on the idea that the status quo isn’t just unacceptable–it’s actively hurting your company.

As HBR puts it, “ prevention-focused people generally prefer the conservative option [but will] embrace risk when it’s their only shot at returning to the status quo.” This doesn’t apply to organizational change either. It’s not about returning to an old norm, it’s about creating new and improved ones.

Change is inevitable, with risk following close behind as a necessary evil symptom. If you’re not ready to embrace either, your organization’s path to digital transformation success just got a lot longer and steeper.

 

3. Create a Clear, Actionable Digital Transformation Strategy

Even if you’ve got a consumer-centric mindset that’s accepting of risk, your digital transformation can still fall flat on its face if your strategic plan isn’t up to par.

“Most companies conduct some form of strategic planning [...],” Forbes’ Juan Riboldi explains. “However, most strategic planning processes fail to deliver real value due to some common pitfalls.” Two of the biggest culprits in that regard are vague objectives and a lack of employee understanding when it comes to the overall roadmap.

First, the former. Successful digital transformation plans are so much more than “I want to grow my business” or “I want to increase my sales.” They’re made up of detailed SMART goals that make precise execution and performance measurement far easier after the fact. Without dialed-in goals, you won’t even know which targets to aim for.

As for the latter, let’s be real: How can you hope to get organizational change buy-in if your digital transformation strategy isn’t clear or even accessible? Sadly, 95% of employees don’t understand the average organizational strategy and, if pressed, more than 70% would be unable to pick said plan out of a written list.

While you may not feel the physical brunt of a poor organizational change strategy in the short term, your ability to grow and scale your operations over a long period will be severely limited.

Read more about how you can create the best ITSM strategy for your organization by clicking here!

 

4. Overcome Internal Fear or Change Resistance By Listening, Collaborating

There’s no getting around the fact that the vast majority of employees don’t like change. Plain and simple.

As per recent poll numbers, more frontline employees (45% of respondents) believe that people prefer the status quo than executives (37%). While it’s human nature to seek comfort in an established routine, it’s critical that change management leaders help their staff overcome fear of or resistance to change by taking their side of the story seriously.

Some may dread the prospect of an increased workload. Others may already feel overworked and aren’t receptive to taking on additional responsibilities. Others still may be afraid of a world where they feel just as obsolete as outdated technology. Whatever the case, you can’t extol your digital transformation’s virtues without also addressing relevant concerns.

Once you digest those frontline concerns, work them into your digital transformation strategy. Let your team know exactly how you’re going to ease as much of the change process as possible. Make your digital transformation a collaborative two-way street. That way, you’ll minimize the possibility of dissension in the ranks and (hopefully) get everyone on the same page.

 

5. Adjust Team Roles and Reskill Employees

Let’s stick with the human side of digital transformation and highlight an under-discussed part of the equation: the need to adjust roles and/or reskill existing employees.

This has mostly do with the widespread uptick in corporate AI spending. The World Economic Forum (WEF) says that, while automation will create an estimated 133 million new jobs by 2022, another 75 million will disappear.

Similarly, a PwC study suggests the UK labor force will see as many new jobs created as lost. Both ratios are encouraging, but it means nothing to your organization if roles aren’t adjusted or employees aren’t reskilled.

Despite the fact that more than half of the average employee base will need to receive extensive retraining, nearly 25% of companies are unlikely to pursue related initiatives in-house. This is a troubling narrative, especially considering that retaining existing talent has been proven to be more cost-effective than hiring someone new.

Digital transformation success often relies on organizational stability and unity. Taking the time to adjust roles within your team and invest in retraining your employees can be a huge plus in those respects, as well as in the cost-reduction department.

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6. Know Consumers Won’t Put Up With Slow, Impersonal IT Services

If your digital transformation doesn’t include major upgrades to website or online storefront’s infrastructure, then you’re already falling short of consumer expectations.

It starts with issues of accessibility and speed. According to Microsoft, 66% of consumers have used three or more channels to contact support agents, which means you can’t rely solely on email for service request transmission. Also, more than half of consumers expect a service desk’s response time to be under an hour, even on weekends.

How do you angle your digital transformation to ensure you hit and even exceed those benchmarks? Simple: leverage user data to personalize their service experience. From platform usage metrics to past purchases to archived IM conversations, you need to transform those data points into lean, powerful IT services that actually get the job done.

Accenture notes that 75% of customers are more likely to engage with a company that personalizes the user experience based on their preferences. Conversely, if they deem the experience with a brand wasn’t personalized enough, 33% of consumers will cut the cord. The moral of the story is clear: slow, impersonal IT services are no longer acceptable

 

7. Prioritize the Design of a Stellar Mobile UX

Let’s stay on the topic of stellar user experiences and turn our focus to the single most important area for consumer engagement–your mobile site or online storefront.

Bolstering your customers’ user experience on smartphones and tablets must be a top digital transformation priority. It’s not hard to see why either: In the United States alone, over 262 million people accessed the internet from their mobile device. In addition, 58% of smartphone users can’t go more than one hour without checking their devices.

Clearly, if you’re not playing a mobile-first UX game, you’re not really playing with anyone at all. Conversely, if you don’t push mobile to the top of your digital transformation priority list, you’ll only shrink your customer base and lose money in the process.

Again, the stats don’t lie: 79% of Millennials are more willing to buy from organizations that have mobile support portals, and 53% of internet users will abandon a mobile site if it takes more than three seconds to load. That’s a miniscule margin for error that can’t be ignored.

So, to recap, the better your mobile user experience is, the greater your chances of upping online engagement and revenue generation. Gloss over this digital transformation component at your own risk.

Discover if your organization is in a digitally mature state with more digital transformation content on our blog!

 

8. Fuel Your Decision-Making With Data-Driven Insights

Great ideas often come from brainstorming sessions or someone’s gut instinct. Great execution, however, relies on data-driven decision-making.

Once again, support agents and IT services are at the forefront of winning over and keeping digitally transformed consumers. Recent survey results indicate that customer satisfaction is more important that price for the majority of online users. How you consistently deliver that satisfaction through IT is crucial, and it involves gleaning insights from reams of data.

We live in a world where data has never been more plentiful, more accessible, or more actionable. Fueling your decision-making with that data is also easier than most people think.

As Grow points out on their blog, “You can use it to track customer habits and anticipate their needs—things like tracking mentions of your brand, listening to online chatter to understand demand or common complaints, and more—giving them the service that they not only want, but have often come to expect.”

Again, we’re back at the idea of rooting your digital transformation in the needs and wants of consumers instead of those who get invited to boardroom meetings. Transform feedback and conversations into data, and use that information to make better decisions. It really is that simple.

 

9. Don’t Get Overwhelmed–Start Small and Deploy Frequent Improvements

Finally, we’re at the point of any digital transformation that arguably trips most people up: the feeling of being overwhelmed by the sheer size of the task(s) at hand.

The rate of technological innovation will only quicken in years to come as well, which is why it’s important to remember that digital transformation is more of an ongoing state of mind than it is a one-and-done item to cross off any number of to-do lists. The process of adapting to changing technology, much like the city of New York, never sleeps.

To prevent feeling overwhelmed and possible employee burnout as a consequence, take steps to start small and deploy frequent improvements across your organization. Implementing new IT tools, hardware or software, gradually instead of all at once is a great example of this.

Smaller, more frequent deployments also allow you to collect performance-related data and make adjustments needed to get the most out of your digital transformation assets. In this context, there’s nothing worse than taking months and months to release improvements or upgrades, as it puts you behind the 8-ball from a technical and UX standpoint.


As scary as the term “digital transformation” might sound, there are so many proven ways to sidestep common pitfalls and make that transition a successful one. From laying the right ideological foundation to bold planning and execution to prioritizing certain strategic aspects to cater to your audience, there are so many benefits to be gained. Don’t shy away from the risks either–you’ve got this!

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Originally published Oct 29, 2019, 7:45:00 AM