When talking about digital transformation, it’s common for the conversation to take a technical turn.
In fact, investing in new systems and technologies is a common entry point to digital transformation. Many executives understand the need to update their processes and systems to stay competitive, but often fail to recognise the link to a more holistic transformation.
There’s no denying that identifying and embedding the right technical infrastructure is key to successful digital transformation, but this infrastructure should be viewed as the foundation from which to achieve your goals.
Technology and Strategy in Digital Transformation
In our conversations with executives, we always emphasise the need for transformation on a wider scale. We think there are two main elements that must come first before any technological investment.
1) Start with Strategy
There’s little value in making costly technical decisions without identifying what you want to achieve and how you will measure those achievements. In short, you must start with the strategy.
You’ll need to assess what your current digital capabilities are, identify what you want to achieve and create a plan with digital at its heart that will help you get there. Although this may sound logical, it’s not uncommon to see businesses embark on piecemeal digital investments without an overarching strategy.
Not only can lead to lead to digital transformation work that fails to hit the mark, new evidence by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte demonstrates that ‘digital maturity’ is a key to businesses staying competitive, taking more effective risks, being more adaptable in their respective markets and retaining the best employees.
The study revealed that businesses which invest in their digital strategy before technology are more digitally mature, with businesses who focus only on individual technologies to solve specific business problems are less digitally mature.
Achieving digital maturity should be viewed as a journey, rather than a destination, even for the most advanced businesses.
Our digital transformation clients are often at different stages of this journey, making each case, and yours, unique. You may have a strategy in place that simply needs revising, or you may already have a strong grasp on your technological needs. Whatever your position, a good rule of thumb is to start with strategy, and choose the technology to fit your objectives - not the other way around.
2) Contextualising Digital
Investing in digital strategy and the right technology is redundant unless you understand what your customers want, and how they behave. Customer context is key to digital transformation. Altimeter Group revealed in recent research that 88% of executives report having begun digital transformation in some form, but that only 25% have mapped their digital customer journeys.
Strategists often equate digital transformation with a shift in technology investment. Thus, they invest in technology to drive digital transformation without the necessary context to drive market-relevant insights - Brian Solis, Altimeter Principal
It’s crucial to understand how changing consumer behaviour affects how potential customers find, research and interact with you online. As the explosion of mobile technology continues apace, customers have more power and visibility than ever before when reviewing products and services, and businesses increasingly have less.
As the buyer decision journey changes, businesses must spend time identifying where their potential customers are and interacting with them at the right time, in the right place. Once you understand your customers’ journey and behaviours, you’ll be in a strong position to create a digital plan accordingly, and begin the process of choosing the technology you need to carry it out to its fullest.
Starting Your Digital Transformation
It would be naive to suggest that technology isn’t a huge part of digital transformation - it is. But it’s absolutely crucial to underpin any reconfiguring or implementation of systems, tools or processes with a detailed digital strategy, with agreed upon objectives and a sound understanding of what your customers want.