While transformation is the word on everyone’s lips these days, how to achieve that transformation often lies behind a veil of mystery. Your stakeholders may all agree on the need to transform, but when the rubber meets the road, it starts to melt, making it far harder to get where you need to go.
Realization of a digital transformation dream can feel slow, painful, and murky because many organizations lack an understanding of what transformation actually means and, more specifically, what it means for them. The truth is that “digital transformation” often actually refers to a variety of initiatives at once that are all at play in varying degrees depending on the needs of an organization. Without a common understanding of what kind of transformation your organization is after, it will be impossible to create a strategy that can effectively get you from where you are to where you need to be.
So, let’s examine some of the building blocks of transformation and see what they could look like for your organization.
1) Business Transformation
This is the most substantial of all transformations. With business transformation, you’re aiming to make a fundamental change that affects your entire business strategy: what you offer, how you offer it, and how that impacts your position in the marketplace. To be truly effective, business transformation will involve all other transformations by definition. People, process, technology, and public perception will all be affected in ways large and small, which of course requires investment of time, resources, and money.
2) People and Process Transformation
Many organizations find themselves ready to make changes to their business but are held back by the wrong skills and/or the wrong processes. It’s vital to unstick all that legacy thinking in order to evolve enough to achieve the big things you’ve laid out as part of your transformation strategy. Often, legacy thinking is ingrained in the old ways of doing things and it takes a lot of effort, time, and patience to coax old habits into new ways of being.
3) Technology Transformation
This transformation type is the one most often mistakenly referred to as “digital transformation.” However, the reason why the two terms are not synonymous is that a pure technology transformation does not change the way an organization does business. Instead, it is a shift in the systems and technologies that enable that business. For instance, if a company has maintained an expansive collection of legacy on-premise software and servers but shifts to a cloud-based, SaaS driven, service oriented approach, that would be a technology transformation.
4) Public Perception Transformation
Perhaps you’ve changed your business, introduced new products, or refined your product line. Now, it’s time to pair that shift with a refreshed public persona to be sure that your audience understands what you offer, why it is valuable, and why you are qualified to provide it. This involves refining or redefining your marketing, messaging and all the finer points of communication (online and offline advertising, social media, word of mouth) that deliver your messaging to the masses.
Choose the transformation you need
Sometimes an organization may be heavily skewed towards one type of transformation or the other to support their business goals and objectives. This is particularly true if there are limited time or resources to move the needle, but a need to build momentum. By picking one key initiative to focus on first, you can see some early results, drive revenue to empower the next phase, and gain support within the business to proceed with it.
When an organization’s fundamental business and offering is sound but the underlying technology infrastructure is outdated or strained, a technology transformation, assuming it’s executed correctly, with establish a new technical foundation that can better support the business that rests on top of it, and potentially open up new avenues and opportunities for growth that the business wasn’t considering before.
The secret behind all of this is that your organization will most likely need a hybrid combination of these transformation types. Changing one area can open up other opportunities or expose additional issues. Sometimes you’ll need one form of transformation to support another. For example, the monumental effort it takes to expand from brick and mortar retail into digital e-commerce can’t sustain itself without people, technology, and refined messaging in place to pull it off.
If you’re looking at a business transformation, it’s practically a guarantee that you will need to evaluate all of these transformation types and address many of them in turn.
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