Is your company committing random acts of digital? How to start your digital transformation

by Andy Main, head of Deloitte Digital, and Rob Frazzini, chief transformation officer, Deloitte Digital

Imagine this: A top company has led their industry for decades. They have no clear competitor in sight. They haven’t prioritized efforts to improve their customer experience. With their robust brand and market saturation, who could come up quickly to beat them? Even longstanding industry regulations are on their side. No one is going to catch them overnight, right?

You probably know how that story ends. And if you’re like many executives, you know you need to do something different, but how do you start? Where do you invest your time and resources? And, ultimately, how do you prepare your business for a future that is so full of unknowns?

Staying competitive means never staying the same. It means embracing the disruptive and the game changing. Understanding what to do is challenging, but that doesn’t mean the path is a complete mystery. There are tested approaches that can help lead you to the answer and provide the needed agility in your business to take on the future.

Transformative change happens by starting with a bold vision and aligning your initiatives.

Stop committing random acts of digital

Executives are responsible for setting the vision and enabling transformation to unfold strategically in their organization. The problem is, many make the mistake of focusing on technology first, often working on “digital projects” that don’t tie back to the ambitions of the business. Then executives wonder why those projects fail to deliver the advantage they need to take their company into the future successfully.

Now, don’t get us wrong – digital technologies are critical to success. In fact they are the source of the different thinking that is needed in today’s digital age. Those different ways of thinking fall into six main areas:

• Connectivity: How you engage with both internal and external audiences

• Automation: How you reduce inefficiencies by automating processes and digitizing infrastructure

• New technology: How you employ intelligent devices and interactive technologies to collect real-time relevant data

• Experience innovation: How you deliver digital innovations through products, brand experiences, and monetization mechanisms

• Data intelligence: How you use data to provide better information and transparency

• Security: How you implement practices to protect customers, employees, suppliers and their data

However, these merely enable your ambitions. You can’t start with them. You should start with a bold vision that puts your customer at the center, which completely changes the way your business operates and relates in the world. And this is where digital business transformation really takes off.

How to start real business transformation for the digital age

In our work with hundreds of clients, we’ve landed on the following seven focus areas key to any transformation. When considering transformational efforts, you should consider the impact that effort will have across all seven areas of the business. Doing this helps to keep the process of transformation focused on real business value.

• Branding and values. Remember: Everything is branding. What do you need to do to empower your brand to drive new customers, services, or markets? We’re talking about much more than logos here.

• Ambitions and aspirations. What can you do to create or respond to market disruptions? What’s happening in adjacent markets? What’s possible with new or exponential technologies?

• Experiences and engagement. How are you responding to shifting human needs of all the humans connected in your business ecosystem? Are you leveraging emerging social behaviors and technologies like mobile and wearables?

• Enterprise operations.  Are your operational structures adapting to help create opportunities in the digital economy? What back-end and enterprise operations are needed to deliver on your goals?

• Organization and talent. Are you organizing your people and processes to take advantage of expanding markets? What mindset changes will be needed to make your business successful?

• Ecosystems and new business models. Are you allowing your business to be influenced by new business models, emerging trends, and new economies? Think asset-less businesses, supply chain transformations, and relationships with new partners.

• Platforms and data. How are you expanding your use of new systems, technology, and data sources to enhance customer experience and value? What new ways of creating and delivering content and visualizing data could change your processes and relationships?

The bottom line: Think about the holistic needs of your business

Start by resisting the urge to think about specific technologies first, and instead keeping a tight hold on your business goals. Thinking holistically about your competitive advantage and measuring across the entire business is critical to success. We can’t emphasize enough that all of these elements must work in harmony with one another at all times.

Taking this perspective helps improve the likelihood you’ll invest in more valuable initiatives that can in turn lead to what real digital business transformation is all about: connected customers, employees, and data needed for rapid insights and constant innovation.

That connection is the golden ticket that can help lead you, step by step, into a successful digital future.

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