As more people are becoming connected, digital devices are becoming cheaper, data volumes are increasing and digitization is becoming mainstreamed into our everyday activities, digital transformation is barrelling ahead. However, the process of bringing all things digital together in a coherent way is not always clear or easy.
Digital transformation is currently a hot topic and the term is often loosely tossed around. I have heard people expressing the need for a digital transformation strategy and, almost in the same breath, asking what this means! Let’s start with what digital transformation is not! It is not slapping together a website or mobile application with some company info, a few reports and contact details. It is not a fragmented approach to chasing Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning or ‘disruptive’ initiatives.
Implementing digital solutions in the absence of defined leadership and a strategy for digital transformation is a recipe for digital chaos!
Digital transformation, as the name suggests, concerns the application of technology to drive transformational business innovation and success. It is also about using technology to leverage the intentional value of your information and data. This can lead to greater monetary value or, in the case of the public sector, higher-value public services. The intention is to develop innovative new processes, products, tools and applications.
A purpose-driven approach to digital transformation requires a strategic focus. It must be driven with a clear understanding of the intended outcomes and therefore, by its very nature, be transformative. A business strategy must not be confused with or used as a digital strategy.
Developing a comprehensive transformative digital strategy
The pathway towards a successful transformative digital strategy will not always be wide, well-lit and obstacle free. But this does not mean that the goal is unattainable. Transformative digital strategy is a process, requiring a comprehensive plan of action. A unified digital strategy framework will drive optimal digital success. The process must start with a clear vision of why you need this strategy and what you want it to achieve.
Based on the vision, we can use the six structural elements of the DX model to frame the strategy. The DX model is based on the premise that digital transformation must be driven by the strong leadership of talented people, in a receptive culture with accountable governance, underpinned by appropriate technology and supported by an effective communications approach. The six structural elements of the DX model are listed below:
Leadership – setting the tone for this bold initiative
Talent – current and future talent needs
Culture –making sure that everybody understands the purpose and direction of the initiative
Governance – ensuring effective compliance with legislation and policies
Technology – using appropriate technology fit for the purpose
Communication – developing brand awareness and reputation
The success of the strategy will depend on continuous review and adaption post-implementation.
The first attempts at digital transformation were seen in the 1990s and 2000s. These were heavily focussed on technology and aimed to make the office ‘paperless’ and ‘borderless’. The thinking on digital transformation has matured over the last 20 years beyond a technology focus, and we can no longer view this process as an optional extra to our everyday work. Digital transformation will enhance the way we work and will have a transformative impact on the lives of many people.
Digital Transformation Framework