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3 ways to get in on digital transformation

Vegard Ottervig on

Get the clear-cut facts about how you and your organisation can quickly and safely get started with digital transformation.

Digital transformation is a colloquial term describing how the development and omnipresence of digital technology impacts the way people and organisations solve tasks. In the business world, this means replacing old, analogue (or digital) work methods with more efficient digital processes, such as using modern, web-based solutions like Google Docs, Slack, or Trello to cooperate and deliver results.

Every organisation today that wants to stay ahead or keep up with its respective industry and market has embraced digital transformation—but in varying degrees. Tech giants like IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft have for instance been surpassed by the former bookstore Amazon on the cloud services front. One of the biggest hospitality services in the world is Airbnb—who doesn’t own a single room, and the taxi industry has been disrupted by Uber—who similarly doesn’t own a single cab.

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It’s clear that your organisation needs to embrace digital transformation if it wants to stay on top, or even to stay alive. In order to kickstart things, you need to ask yourself three essential questions:

  1. Why do you need to transform?
  2. What do you need to transform?
  3. How can you transform?

With these questions providing you the right mindset, let’s dive into the recipe of how you can get in on digital transformation:

1. Establish a digital transformation task force

A horizontal approach to enter the digital transformation train is to establish a dedicated task force. This band of merry men (and women) are entrusted with the great responsibility that is to become a “digitally mature” organisation and survive the next decades.

The task force would ideally be comprised of team members from different departments of your organisation—like consulting, operations, sales, finance, legal, and so on. The group will have to map out needs, research solutions, find innovation platforms, build bridges between departments and between the organisation and several technologies.

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The task force must discover what your customers and your competitors are doing—even businesses from other industries. They have to find out where society likely will be in ten years, so you don’t end up like Nokia or Kodak. These were the undisputed leaders in the mobile and photography market, respectively. Not able to adapt fast enough, they were soon dethroned or even put out of business for good.

A centerpiece of digital transformation is that every company will become a tech company, and therefore the task force must also research available and emerging technologies to leverage your organisation in new and hitherto unforeseen ways.

2. Involve stakeholders and leadership

This is a top-down approach, counting on the trickle down effect of eminent leadership on the rest of the organisation. As the stakeholders and leadership provide the funding, when all is said and done, it is only natural to involve them and get buy-in on your digital transformation venture.

As most organisations tend to have some form of hierarchy, as well as a chain of command (but not as strict and unforgiving as the military version, of course), it makes sense to bring the upper echelons to “your side,” thereby enforcing guidelines to every nook and cranny of your organisation.

It doesn’t have to be so menacing as it may sound, but the point is to get the decision-makers and money-wielders to bet on your horse—namely digital transformation. And one of the best methods of doing this is to provide them with a business case. Tell them all about the advantages and disadvantages, possibilities, risks, technologies, and provide a roadmap. Do a thorough job and you’ll maximise your chance of success.

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3. Introduce modern, organisation-wide principles

Finally, a bottom-up approach may be the right course for you. Carefully introducing modern, organisation-wide principles to boost digital transformation is a more HR friendly way of doing things, so involving your HR department is probably a good idea.

Making your coworkers and teammates organically start working with digitally disrupting technologies and work processes is a smart and gentle way of doing things. And as you already are in the landscape of HR, you should utilise well-known methods like Agile and Lean to inject some turbo into the process.

As mentioned, enabling your coworkers to start working naturally with new and exciting digital solutions will eventually make them care about and contribute to developing new and smart technology in their own right. Which again will serve to fuel your lead in the digital transformation game. Empower your colleagues to empower your business.

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What method you choose is entirely up to you. You may use all three methods or different combinations—just make sure you pick the right method for you and your organisation. Remember to have fun on the yellow brick road to digital transformation.

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Topics: 
digital transformation
digital projects
innovation
digital strategy
project management