What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to fundamentally change how an organisation operates and delivers value to its customers. It involves the adoption and integration of digital technologies into all areas of the business, including operations, processes, products, and services.

Leading Digital Transformation

Digital transformation can involve a range of activities, such as:

Automating and digitising business processes

Using technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics to automate and streamline business processes, reducing the need for manual intervention.

Building digital products and services

Developing new products and services that are designed specifically to be delivered digitally, such as software, mobile apps, or online platforms.

Implementing new technologies

Adopting new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) or cloud computing to improve efficiency and productivity.

Enhancing customer experience

Using digital technologies to improve the customer experience, such as by providing personalised recommendations or offering self-service options.

Overall, digital transformation is about using technology to fundamentally change the way an organisation operates and delivers value to its customers. It requires a strategic and holistic approach, and often involves significant changes to business processes, culture, and organisational structure.

Transformation Versus Operation

Leading digital transformation is something that many executives need to learn. It's not something they have years of experience with, because a decade ago, most organisations weren't even taking about digital transformation.

We hear a lot about the need for companies to transform themselves digitally to remain relevant and competitive, but we hear much less about the personal transformation that leaders need to undergo, before they can lead their employees on a digital business transformation journey.

Ego, reluctance to sound silly, digital denial and fear of failure are some of the reasons why CEOs fail to address the challenge of digital business transformation head-on. This can lead to CEO's washing their hands of anything that is remotely technical-related and delegating it to the CIO. While digital solutions might be technical, the digital transformation which those solutions enable couldn't be further from the technical world we have seen in the last two decades.

Most executives sit in their positions because they have worked their way up the corporate ladder in one or more companies. But leading in the digital age requires knowledge that most executives have not been able to acquire during their career, because digital business transformation hasn't been a requirement. But many people still make the mistake of thinking that IT projects are the same as digital business transformation – which couldn't be further from the truth.

Leading operational excellence is what many executives have excelled at but that is very different to leading digital business transformation. Which means that executives, whether that is the CEO, CFO, CIO, etc. need to open themselves up to learning about the relatively new topic of digital business transformation.

10 Steps to Leading Digital Transformation

Here are ten steps you can take if you intend to be leading digital transformation in your organisation:

Define your vision and strategy

Clearly define your goals and objectives for digital transformation, and how they fit into your overall business strategy.

Engage key stakeholders:

Involve key stakeholders in the planning process, including executives, IT leaders, business leaders, and other key personnel.

Assess your current state

Conduct a thorough assessment of your current digital capabilities and identify areas for improvement.

Develop a roadmap

Develop a roadmap that outlines the steps you will take to achieve your digital transformation goals.

Identify and prioritise projects

Identify and prioritise the projects that will drive your digital transformation efforts.

Build a cross-functional team

Assemble a cross-functional team of experts to lead the transformation effort.

Foster a culture of innovation

Foster a culture of innovation and experimentation that encourages employees to embrace new technologies and ideas.

Implement new technologies

Adopt new technologies that support your digital transformation efforts.

Measure and track progress

Regularly measure and track your progress to ensure that you are meeting your goals.

Continuously iterate and improve: Continuously iterate and improve your digital transformation efforts as you learn and adapt to new technologies and changing business needs.

Equipped for Leading Digital Transformation

Leading digital transformation is hard, but as with any endeavour worth doing, the better equip you are, the more success you are likely to enjoy.

Take a look at this range of digital transformation courses for managers, leaders, and consultants and consider which ones you need to take to be better equipped to manage and lead digital transformation.

While consulting firms, system integrators and the like are ready and eager to steer executives towards lucrative initiatives, it is vital that executives educate themselves in fundamental digital business transformation principles first. There is a right time and a wrong time to engage third parties, and it's important not to engage them naively and set yourself up to being steered.

Leading digital transformation is for those who are sufficiently equipped to know the key decision they need to make, and the people they need – whether they are internal or external to the organsiation.