Digital transformation is not a one-size-fits-all process and looks very different across industries and organizations. There are no quick fixes — successful digital transformation requires commitment to an in-depth process of transforming your business. However, ambiguity around digital-transformation efforts and what it means for customers, partners and employees often puts the breaks on achieving success.
Because of this, it’s important to break down barriers by drawing a clearly defined line between myth and reality, to debunk common misconceptions about digital transformation. Overcoming and understanding the truth behind the below misconceptions is a key starting point in getting on track with a successful digital-transformation strategy.
Myth #1: Digital transformation isn’t a necessity right now
2018 survey data from Tech Pro Research shows that 70 percent of those surveyed said their companies have digital-transformation strategies in place or are working on one for the near future. While these efforts are continuing to grow, encompassing the whole of an organization, digital transformation is still facing key challenges — one being implementation of these strategies. It’s one thing to develop these strategies and have them on hand, but it’s something completely different to start putting them to work.
I have heard many times that digital transformation can “wait until later,” but the truth is, it can’t anymore. Perhaps digital-transformation efforts could have been a slower evolution several years ago, but with technology constantly changing and new innovations hitting various markets at almost lightning speed, the longer you wait to get started, the harder it will be down the road. While your business is running in neutral, a competitor is likely picking up momentum and speeding right past you in their transformation. It is important to be strategic in how you approach your digital-transformation journey, but the idea that it isn’t a necessity to get started now will only make your business fall even more behind the curve.
Myth #2: You only need technology to digitally transform
This is one of the most common myths I’ve seen around digital transformation — the idea that if you upgrade your technology, then your digital transformation is complete. While innovative technologies play a critical role in how businesses digitally transform, they aren’t the sole or end solution to business challenges along the transformation journey.
Businesses need to look thoroughly at overall processes and current corporate policies while also assessing buy-in and willingness across the company. Employee and company-wide buy-in is crucial to not only the success of digital transformation, but its sustainability. It’s vital for executive teams to identify and agree on a clear vision with concrete, long-term goals before implementing a course of action from the top-down. This shows a clear path to how a company will execute its digital-transformation strategy — a transparency that supports employee buy-in. Once this is in place, the team needs to take responsibility in shifting priorities for moving forward from both the executive level and the front line.
This is a change in company culture, rather than in technology, but for new technology implementations to work, it is 100 percent necessary. To successfully reach your goals and have those permeate through the entire organization, there has to be willingness and a clear understanding of all long-term goals.
Myth #3: Digital transformation is only useful for software and tech companies
The truth is, digital transformation is useful to any business looking to connect with customers, improve sales and build better experiences. Target’s e-commerce transformation is a good example. As the second-largest department store retailer in the United States, Target knew it had to get competitive with Amazon and make the necessary moves to digital. Looking to position itself as America’s easiest place to shop and leading omnichannel retailer, Target set a strategy in motion to integrate its brick-and-mortar stores and its online e-commerce offerings. Its shares have recently reached an all-time high, proving the mega-retailer can more than keep in lock-step with Amazon.
Digital transformation is useful from an internal perspective as well — breaking down organizational silos, making data accessible across the business, and increasing employee experiences through things like task automation and process transparency. While employee experience has become enmeshed in the digital-transformation efforts of various tech companies, including SAP, ServiceNow, VMware and IBM, its benefits across industries are clear.
Evidence is pointing more and more to the fact that employee experience is a key driver in building and maintaining customer experience. Digitally transforming the workplace, tools and processes employees engage with enables them to better support customer experiences and elevate business growth.
The bottom line is that digitalization has an effect on everyone. The traditional ways business has been done in the past continues to be challenged by digitally native and savvy operators entering every market and industry. Heading into 2019, it’s become even more important for business executives and front-line employees to focus on these realities and execute digital-transformation strategies to continue moving business forward.