A butterfly, representing a business, undergoes a digital transformation

What is Digital Transformation Strategy?

Have you started developing your digital transformation strategy? 

The concept of digital transformation has become so ubiquitous that Forbes has declared that “the era of digital transformation is here for companies of all sizes and types, from Fortune 500s to startups.” It seems that everyone is talking about digital transformation, working on a digital transformation, or nailing down their digital transformation strategy. This means it’s time to get started on yours!

If you are just starting down the road of digital transformation strategy, you may have some questions. You aren’t alone–digital transformation can be confusing. Part of the confusion comes from the fact that a digital transformation strategy is not a one-size-fits-all thing–it is designed to be different for each organization or enterprise that undertakes one. 

Harvard Business Review explains, “the key to cutting through the confusion is to see that digital transformation is not a single thing, but a multi-faceted journey with differing goals depending on your industry and digital maturity.

Before we dig too deeply into the process of developing a digital transformation strategy, let’s quickly discuss what digital transformation is. 

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation is the process of using digital technology to delight employees and customers – change process, culture, customer experience, products and services, with unique engagements. It ends with a changed business and ecosystem.

Generally speaking, digital transformation is a business-wide strategic reconsideration of the ways in which they use technology to get things done. CIO Magazine explains it as “a catchall term for describing the implementation of new technologies, talent, and processes to improve business operations and satisfy customers.” Forbes says that digital transformation “refers to companies leveraging enhanced technology to improve their business capabilities, operational efficiencies and ultimately, their customers’ experiences.

All of these definitions point to the four main domains of digital transformation, so let’s zoom in.

What are the four main areas of digital transformation?

Those that work in digital transformation strategy and enterprise digital transformation tend to think of their field as encompassing four key areas of business. These areas are considered to be interrelated and can impact the same or different aspects of the business's operation. 

Technology

This realm has to do with the full range of devices, apps, machines, processes, and other technical elements that makes a particular business work. Most particularly, digital transformation strategy involves understanding all of the existing systems and any new technologies that may drive change. This involves understanding licensing, access, and any tech debt that an organization may carry. 

Data

All businesses of every size both create and consume data. From customer information to sales analytics, legal documents, HR records, email chains, memos, board reports, and more, data makes an enterprise go. As Harvard Business Review puts it, “data presents an interesting paradox: Most companies know data is important and they know quality is bad, yet they waste enormous resources by failing to put the proper roles and responsibilities in place.” 

This is where digital transformation strategy comes in. Here, the focus is on everything from understanding the types of data an enterprise is dealing with to developing methods for controlling who has access to that data and from where.

Process

In terms of digital transformation strategy, process has a lot to do with HOW things get done. How does an order get from sales to fulfillment? How does information move from one place to another? Can technology help? Does the organization have the technology that it needs to streamline, improve, or grow these processes?

Organizational change capability

Finally, to digital transformation strategy would be complete without considering whether the organization even has the capacity to change in the manners suggested by the digital transformation strategy. Does the corporate structure permit change? Does the corporate culture? Does the leadership embrace technology in a way that makes this type of innovation possible? What changes are needed to make all of this happen smoothly, or even at all? 

How do you develop a digital transformation strategy?

As complex as all of this sounds, a digital transformation strategy will need to analyze and evaluate the areas listed above, search for solutions to existing shortfalls, and make a plan (and budget) for implementation. Harvard Business Review suggests a way forward and into the development of a strategy: “Digital transformation can and should be focused on problems of greatest need to the company.” As they point out, no one person in the organization likely has all the answers to do this alone–not the CIO, not the IT department, and not the CEO. Digital transformation strategy is best undertaken as a team effort, and with as much help as you can muster. 

Start your digital transformation with the Seven Levers of Digital Transformation.

As Forbes points out, digital transformation “starts with a strategy and a clear road map, but success comes with having the right vendor(s) to drive the transformation.” An invested in-house team, working with a digital transformation strategy consultant, can work wonders for your business. 

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