The IT Leader’s Guide to Digital Transformation

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Was there ever a buzzword as buzzy as “digital transformation?” It’s perfect: It sounds futuristic and exciting. But it’s also vague enough to be used for any number of different products and services. It could be a process, a technology suite, a mindset, or all of the above.

We have to cut through the hype though, because underneath the buzz there is a crucial business concern. Transformed businesses are faster, more efficient, and ultimately more profitable than their competitors. We created an interactive guide to help your business get started on the climb to digital transformation. Click below for the full experience, or keep scrolling for just the highlights.

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headshot of Tim Crawford

Tim Crawford
CIO Strategic Advisor

Charles Araujo
  Principal Analyst
Intellyx LLC

headshot of Daniel Newman-BW

Daniel Newman
   Principal Analyst
   Futurum Research

headshot of Andrew Spence

Andrew Spence
HR Transformation Director
Glass Bead Consulting

headshot of R _Ray_ Wang

R "Ray" Wang
Principal Analyst, Founder & Chairman
Constellation Research

headshot of Sally Eaves

Sally Eaves
  CEO and Director
   Sally Eaves Consultancy

headshot of Jonathan Reichental

Jonathan Reichental, PhD
Founder & CEO
 Human FutureDaniel Newman

headshot of Tim Crawford

"Focus on those technology improvements that drive the greatest business value. Technology for technology purposes often leads to limited or negative gains. By focusing on business value, organizations can align with the best technology opportunities for success." - Tim Crawford, CIO Strategic Advisor, AVOA

Business Benefits of Digital Transformation

The benefits of transformation aren't limited to minor improvements. Digital-first businesses are more efficient, flexible, and agile.

Compared to legacy companies, transformed businesses:
  • Are able to experiment more with less risk
  • Can "fail fast" and pivot to greater success
  • Have increased efficiency with existing business model
  • Can identify new revenue streams and business models
  • Can go to market faster with new solutions

In other words, transformed businesses will rapidly outpace those who are bogged down with legacy systems and processes. Right now, per a Smart Insights survey, 65% of businesses have a transformation program in place. That means businesses who have not start the transformation yet are already behind 2/3rds of their competitors. If your organization is lagging behind, now is the time to catch up.
chart of Relevance of Digital Transformation Programs

This guide can help you join the transformation leaders in your industry. Read on to get started.

Digital Transformation in IT Departments

The IT department, and the CIO office in particular, should be taking the lead in a digital transformation initiative. But digital transformation is about more than just new technology. It’s as much a change management challenge as it is a technological one. IT leaders need to work closely with the executive suite and the employee base. It takes everyone’s combined effort to create a strategy, get buy-in, and start the transformation process.

"Digital transformation will almost certainly involve process centralizationand optimization, and will span across most, if not all, of your operating and business units." - Charles Araujo, Principal Analyst, Intellyx LLC

headshot of Daniel Newman-BW

"Technology should enable transformation. But we transform to help our companies stay relevant, enchant customers, motivate and inspire employees. There is always a human purpose tied to every technology investment. Start there, and you will be off and running." - Daniel Newman, Principal Analyst, Futurum Research

Align Tech Demands with Business Objectives

As Newman observes, transformation should be tied to business outcomes. It's not just technology for technology's sake. When evaluating new technology as part of your transformation initiative, keep these questions in mind:
  1. Does this solution make us more efficient?
  2. Does this solution enhance customer experience?
  3. Will this solution help attract and retain the right talent?
  4. Will this solution carry a measurable return on investment?

These questions can help align IT and organizational leadership throughout the transformation process.

Get Employee Buy-In

Digital transformation is a long-term investment, not a quick sprint. To succeed, it requires enthusiastic support across the organization. Employee investment is absolutely crucial, so it's best to get their buy-in from the start.

Our research shows 72% of companies who have successfully integrated process started by asking employees how processes could be improved. Instead of making the change a top-down edict, the IT department worked with employees to determine the best course of action.
headshot of Andrew Spence

"Try to identify and encourage the most influential employees to contribute to the change program. As the program develops, it is important to gain feedback from employee teams and make sure their changes are incorporated into the design." - Andrew Spence, HR Transformation Director, Glass Bead Consulting

headshot of R _Ray_ Wang

"To reduce complexity and simplify support in your organization, start by rethinking how each stakeholder views their experience. Model their process flows and then identify what processes you need to redesign, automate, and retain for human intervention." - R “Ray” Wang, Principal Analyst, Founder & Chairman, Constellation Research

Integrate Processes

Integrating processes is an essential building block of digital transformation. That means breaking down silos, facilitating communication and collaboration, and promoting self-serve options that eliminate departmental bottlenecks.

For example, right now your employees might be relying on manually-processed IT tickets for every request, even procedures that could be automated. Moving to a self-service IT model gives the IT team more time to focus on transformation initiatives, while also increasing employee efficiency and effectiveness.

We have found that companies are more likely to be successful if they provide a central location for apps and services, and appoint someone responsible for shared services (81% of tightly-integrated companies do both).

Promote & Facilitate Collaboration

Once your existing apps and processes are integrated, you can start optimizing workflows. The goal is to automate whenever possible, and share knowledge throughout the organization for smart, efficient, tech-enabled collaboration.

Secure but accessible shared data is a crucial part of enabling that collaboration. Employees should be able to work seamlessly with each other across departments. For example, customer experience, sales, marketing, and HR should all be able to communicate and share crucial insights with each other.

headshot of Sally Eaves

"By modernising processes to increase visibility and access to data and key metrics, supported by technology tools, can you help enable holistic informational sharing and more seamless work-flow." - Sally Eaves, CEO and Director, Sally Eaves Consultancy

Move from Optimization to Evolution

As employees start communicating and collaborating, sharing data and insights, your organization will be ready to go beyond optimizing and fully evolve. This is the stage at which investments in technology start to bring in serious positive ROI.

Now you can begin redesigning processes to be flexible and scalable, taking full advantage of your tech assets. All of the incremental steps you’ve taken so far have been to position the business to make this major change. This stage is likely to start taking the business out of its comfort zone, but with the framework in place and buy-in across the organization, you can succeed.
headshot of Jonathan Reichental

"Digital transformation is not just about adopting new technology to achieve optimization. It’s an opportunity to review, modify, and if necessary, completely redesign processes to achieve better results. Now is the right time for organizations to step back and take a more holistic view of the processes that enable their organizations to function." - Jonathan Reichental, PhD, Founder & CEO, Human Future

Get Inspired for Your Transformation Journey

For the most successful organizations, digital transformation is an ongoing journey. It is led by the CIO and the IT department, but ultimately it involves the entire organization. If your business hasn’t started the journey yet--or if you’re still in the early stage--you’re not alone. But now is the time to begin your initiative.

To get some perspective on the issue, we recently surveyed over 1,000 employees, in businesses of all types. We wanted to learn how the transformation process affects employee engagement, employee experience, and ultimately customer experience and business success.

Use the report below to guide your progress and motivate your organization for the next step in your journey.

Read the Report