There is much confusion about what digital transformation really means and why it is so vital. Digital transformation refers to customer-driven strategic initiatives that induce whole-system change and are supported by digital technologies. Some of the technologies driving these changes include IoT (internet of things), AI (artificial intelligence), VR (virtual reality), Analytics, Industry 4.0 with 3D, and the list goes on. Many of these technologies are drastically changing how businesses operate as power continues to shift to consumers who are driving all decisions through hand-held smart devices.

Digital Transformation Is Not Just a Trend.

It is fast becoming a prerequisite for survival. There is no doubt that with today’s emphasis on speed, businesses have to beat their competition to be first… to innovate, to source out resources, to get their products to market at the best price, and to entice the best talent. This process is not a one-time event but rather an ongoing one. Therefore, organizations engaged in digital transformation become more proficient at adapting to change; this capability ensures they continuously evolve to anticipate customer needs and meet their expectations. Some companies are still refusing to acknowledge the full impact of digital technologies on their business model but resistance is futile. Companies that do not effectively join this evolution are putting their businesses at risk; the operative word being effectively.

Many executives mistakenly believe that digital transformation is simply the deployment of different types of software and that the responsibility for this deployment lies with front-line managers or with IT. Furthermore, they consider deployments to be an end rather than the means to an end. These crucial errors result in a high rate of transformation failures and organizations become disillusioned about digital transformation which further delays their evolution.

3 Key Elements To a Successful Digital Transformation:

Executive teams must be aligned and work as role models in embracing digital transformation. Only if the executive team leads the digital transformation journey with courage, persistence, and tenacity can the organization be transformed.

Strategic initiatives must begin with a customer-centric vision and executive commitment to shifting to a digital culture. A major shift in culture is compulsory to support such a complex change and ensure that the growth potential inherent in digital transformation is realized.

C-Suite executives are called upon to act as champions and active sponsors for the change. Leaders and influencers from all levels of the organization live and breathe the change. The whole of the organization participates and collaborates in the change.

These are basic requirements to initiate the journey of digital transformation, without which the organization will not be transformed. The little change that may occur will not last; before long the old thought patterns and behaviors will consume the new to reestablish the status quo.

Digital Transformation Is Complex.

Each organization must approach this complex change with the mindset, strategies, resources, tools, and tactics that are right for them. Most importantly executives must recognize that humans, not technology, are the nucleus of digital transformation. This perspective is what makes the difference between success and failure.

Paola Graziani and Gabriel Youssef
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