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How to Accelerate Your Digital Transformation

September 02, 2020 Leadership
Kaya Ismail
By Kaya Ismail

Using technology to improve business outcomes isn’t a new practice for many companies. But, it has been at the forefront for many businesses recently. According to ZDNet, 70% of companies either have a digital transformation strategy in place or are working on one.

The concept of a digital transformation has long been seen as a comprehensive and painstaking process. However, could there be a way to speed things up from the beginning? We’ve spoken to business leaders to find out more about digital transformation. What it is, how to choose a starting point, and how to execute the transformation as quickly as possible. 

What Is Digital Transformation?

Salesforce has stated that the definition of digital transformation is “the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements.” 

Michael Kleiner, VP of Engineering for OnLogic believes that it’s less about simply adopting new technologies, but instead how these technologies solve problems. “Digital transformations are rooted in the use of technology to solve problems and streamline processes. Taking previously analoge tasks and making their workflow digital enables companies to more efficiently spend their time and resources. For a digital transformation to truly take hold it takes more than just the right technology — it requires buy in from the organization to try a new process,” said Kleiner. 

The definition can be altered depending on the company, but adaptability is a key component. “Every company defines digital transformation differently. The best way to define it is transforming a company that is adaptable to the digital age. A company that is agile, innovative, and able to adopt new capabilities to keep them competitive and even disruptive,” said Drew Falkman, Director of Strategy at digital transformation consulting company Modus Create.

Related Article: Digital Transformation, Round Two: Time to Get On Board

Where Should Your Digital Transformation Begin?

Understanding what digital transformation is and coming up with your own definition for your company is only scratching the surface. Deciding how to conduct a digital transformation can be a challenge but our experts weighed in with some more advice on where to begin. “Identifying and aligning on a goal is key. This can be done by looking for places where ROI can be measurable, where the impact is high and the effort is relatively low,” said Falkman.

Just like the definition, the starting point won’t be the same for everyone. “It can vary across industries, but companies who recognize a need to transform how they have done business, typically notice a loss in efficiency that leads to an impact on their bottom line,” said Kleiner. 

For Falkman, when working with business executives the starting point is slightly different. “Upgrading to better operational software, adopting agile methodology, cloud transformation and devops adoption are often key starting points,” Falkman added. 

Digital transformations usually begin as a response to changing consumer habits or preferences and companies look to technology to help them adapt. “The starting point for transformation begins when stakeholders ask “how can we do this better, and what data do we need to make it happen?" Kleiner pointed out. 

“The manufacturing industry is probably the best example of rapid digital transformation and where a lot of our customers find value in our technology. Industry 4.0 was born because manufacturers saw a technological revolution in the consumer sector - connected homes and smartphones showed that when technology communicates with other technology, life gets easier. Manufacturers began looking for ways their factory floors could become smarter and more efficient by implementing downtime monitoring and predictive maintenance models,” Kleiner added. 

Related Article: Digital Transformation: Why Now?

How Can We Speed Things Up?

Digital transformation isn’t limited to just technology; people are involved too. Accelerating the process requires companies to focus on some key areas. 

Identify the Right Starting Point & Continue Learning

Falkman reiterates that where you start matters, as well as how you adapt to changes, “As stated earlier, finding the right start is important. If you are looking at undergoing larger transformations — like moving to agile or creating non-consensus innovation culture or larger software adoptions (like Atlassian Jira or an ERP system), we recommend starting with a pilot to work out the kinks, then rolling it out. Every process should be done as a test with a retrospective at the end so there are learnings and adoption at the end,” said Falkman. 

Start Small and Work Your Way Up

Starting small doesn’t mean you need to have a minor impact. “In general, companies should start small — identify a clear gap in efficiency and productivity and determine an easy solution to fixing that shortfall. Even small adjustments can be a significant improvement to a company’s bottom line,” stated Kleiner. 

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