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6 keys to unlock business value with digital transformation

Siw Grinaker on

How to leverage business value with new digital trends and technologies.

New technology and solutions may be interesting in their own right, but it is not always easy to see the business perspective—how any given tech will influence the revenue and bottom line.

And even if you, as a tech-savvy professional, can identify potential business value, the stakeholders of your company will not necessarily follow suit. To open that door, we have gathered six keys to unlock business value with digital transformation.

1. Get an orientation

First you need to orient yourself in the shifting landscape of digital and business. You might know what digital transformation entails, but your stakeholders can be in the dark. To identify what digital transformation really is, use our essential definition:

Digital transformation is the comprehensive effects of rapid digital innovation on core business functions and processes.

The corresponding new technology enabled by digital transformation enables new methods and improves old methods to solve traditional tasks and deliver customer value. Existing operations may be rendered obsolete in terms of competitiveness on the market—something any business-minded stakeholder will understand.

After understanding the fundamentals of digital transformation, your organisation needs to ask itself what, how, and why? What core business functions should be enhanced by digital, how are you going to achieve that goal, and why should you do it? Will the functions work just as well without fancy, new tech? Or will it genuinely be boosted in terms of revenue?

Identifying digital transformation and the needs of your organisation marks a great beginning for creating a formal corporate strategy to address the matter. In this stage, you also need to think about whether you should cut cost or increase revenue. Authors Michael Raynor and Mumtaz Ahmed certainly embrace the latter option in their book The Three Rules: How Exceptional Companies Think.

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2. Receive blessings from the leadership

A thorough orientation, strategy proposal, and potential business case are tactics you can employ to involve the leadership of your organisation. Without their blessing, any attempt at unlocking business value through new, digitally fuelled means will be hampered at best and shut down at worst.

As mentioned, a business case that showcases success stories will be an integral part of involving the C-suite, and may represent the tipping point in getting them onboard.

Also, make sure to include numbers, graphs, percentages, and any visual means that demonstrate your digital transformation business case. Brainbridge mentions 12 such success stories, including Subway, Capital One, Walgreens, CVS, Wal-Mart, and Target. CIO.com lists 10 more, including WW, Atlassian, Nissan, and Sprint.

3. Gather the team

You can’t carry the burden of unlocking your organisation’s business value through digital transformation all by yourself. You need a team, and not just any team—you need professionals with digital specialisation.

Your team members should have the right skills and you should only assign the roles needed to fulfill your goals. Skills to overcome digital transformation for the sake of business values may include project management, solution architecture, UX design, web development, back-end development, CMS vendor expertise, continuous development, content production, accessibility, SEO, testing, and operations. This is of course a lot to keep tabs on, but the hallmark of a great organiser and leader is just that—to find the right people with the right skillset to perform the right role.

Skills are not enough, however. Your team must also facilitate a specific strategy and environment to successfully leverage business. A clear-cut digital strategy, modern teamwork principles, a sharing environment, and a productive technical platform will also contribute to success.

Read more: How to lead a successful digital team »

4. Spot the weak links

Your digital organisation is not stronger than its weakest link. While your organisation might have introduced e.g. processes of automation, self-service, and beacons in certain departments, it might prove futile in the long run if core business functions still run by obsolete means.

When you and your team are looking for operations and processes that can be digitally transformed to improve efficiency, you need to work systematically. You need to inspect every facet and aspect of your organisation—no stone must be left unturned. Ask yourselves about what can be digitalised in accordance with the principles detailed under the first point in this article.

You should also identify non-essential activities performed by colleagues in your team, in the different departments, and finally in your organisation as a whole. Removing or outsourcing these kinds of non-core activities will free resources that can be used to improve efficiency and increase the bottom-line in more productive endeavours.

5. Introduce agile and lean principles

The door to increased revenue and business value is a sturdy one, with solid, heavy-duty locks to protect the rivers of gold and honey beyond. Hitherto we have gathered the keys of general strategy, stakeholder involvement, a highly skilled team, and the identification of areas of improvement. We are almost there, but we need something more—we need a framework for working methods, as hinted at earlier.

Involve your HR department to plan how you can introduce modern working principles as smoothly as possible. Encourage your colleagues to test new and exciting technology and work processes, while simultaneously introducing agile, lean, and scrum principles.

These processes allow for continuous feedback and improvements, and may let you quickly go from an idea to solve a specific problem to a high-fidelity prototype in as little as a week. Examples of concrete kits within these frameworks include Google’s design sprint, Jobs to be Done, and LeanKit.

See also: Digital transformation: current status and preparation »

6. Measure business value and reiterate

As a final note after you have successfully unlocked business value by the keys above, you need to prove the worth of these efforts by measuring, analysing, and reiterating.

Identifying real KPIs within digital transformation that impact revenue is no easy task, but ask yourself how a given technology increases revenue, whether the tech can lower cost, and how it can improve productivity.

For instance, will a self-service machine in a store increase the number of orders as opposed to the traditional interaction with a clerk? Will the introduction of AI discover feasible shortcuts in your supply chain and thus lower cost? Will the lean method demonstrably make your colleagues do more tasks in less time?

Factors like these are measurable, and by measuring them you can analyse, optimise, and improve every process, service, and product—and thus increase business value.

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Frequently asked questions

What are digital experiences?

Content and functionality on every digital touchpoint—including websites, mobile apps, IoTs, wearables, beacons, AR/VR, and digital signage.

What is a digital project?

Undertaking that aims to introduce, transform, or manage digital strategies and operations in or with your organisation.

What is a digital experience platform?

A DXP delivers unified experiences across different digital channels, while using analytics to understand the users and continuously improve.

How to run a digital project?

Align with corporate strategy and goals, enable a project owner, gather a skilled team, enable suitable tools and tech, allocate assets, think customer-centric, showcase early gains.

Topics: 
business case
digital transformation
digital projects
teamwork
project management