How to make digital transformation efforts a success

By Igor Epshteyn, CEO at Coherent Solutions.

  • Monday, 13th May 2024 Posted 1 week ago in by Phil Alsop

Digital transformation empowers businesses to stay competitive when rapid technological progress requires agility and innovation. However, it is never easy to transform operating models or entire enterprises, nor to launch new products or services. Less than 30% of tech businesses succeed with digital transformation strategies.

On their bumpy roads to success, many zero in on adopting more technologies, mistakenly viewing that as a silver bullet for digital transformation. But solely solving technology problems is not enough. Businesses should overhaul their strategies, processes, and mindsets to ride the wave of digital transformation.

The Role of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is key for teams that use data analytics to keep up with changing customer needs and market trends, driving experiments and modifications that businesses cannot do without in the era of continuous changes. Businesses transform when adopting an agile approach to handling internal processes and delivering innovative products or services to clients. This helps break down organisational silos, automate repetitive processes, optimise workflows, and promote data-driven decision-making across teams. Successful efforts see businesses significantly reduce the time needed to develop, test, and launch new solutions.

What Talents Are Essential to Pursue Digital Transformation?

Digital transformations are disruptive, requiring managers with honed skills to inspire and align a business around the shift, both cultural and technical. So, one of the biggest leadership talents needed is change management.

Another crucial talent is data expertise since data in the digital era is what companies’ competitive advantage hinges on. Businesses need professionals skilled in data engineering, modelling, and analytics — those who can extract value from large data pools.

Lastly, businesses need hands-on technical talents, including software developers, architects, QA specialists, and DevOps engineers. These vital roles stand behind creating and maintaining the digital infrastructures that power transformations.

Corporate Culture Slows Transformations Down: What Can Businesses Do?

It is natural to stick with the familiar. Many businesses might find themselves hamstrung by the values and processes that drove their past success. However, resistance to change and risk-averse mindsets impede transformation. Business leaders should shift shortsighted focus from quick gains to sustained investments in long-term strategic perspectives. Generative AI is a perfect example of this, with businesses often greeting it with scepticism. Teams can be cautious about how the technology might change the roles of developers, so identifying use cases across all business areas and applying the technology to boost tasks or alleviate pressures can help address areas of concerns.

Creating space for experimentation is also key: employees can learn how to apply and guide generative AI tools like ChatGPT or Claude to get the most out of them. It also demonstrates how AI can help with coding, testing, and administrative tasks like resume screening to yield substantial positive impacts. By taking such an approach the whole business can see that working without AI assistance would be unimaginable in the future, and using AI tools would become as fundamental a skill as using office software.

How Do Businesses Use AI to Transform?

AI undoubtedly stands out as a beacon of digital transformation and provides almost unlimited opportunities for businesses to advance their processes and offerings. Here are a few more examples of how businesses can start using AI right away:

  • Customer service chatbots. These virtual assistants can handle routine customer queries 24/7 while allowing a human support team to focus on more complex issues.
  • Predictive analytics to forecast demand. AI tools can help crunch historical sales data, analyse market trends, and evaluate seasonal fluctuations to predict demand for a product or service.
  • Predictive maintenance. AI-based predictive maintenance helps businesses to monitor their equipment performance, detecting anomalies and predicting potential failures with a view to extending equipment lifespan and cutting repair costs.

How Should Data Silos Be Left Behind?

Siloed departments hoard their data, slowing cross-functional teamwork and keeping valuable insights hidden and unclaimed. This approach hampers digital transformation processes.

Businesses should use a data integration approach that can connect different systems and databases. Too often, businesses are plagued with a "buy a tool, solve the problem" mentality, but often, the most effective way to resolve a bottleneck is by optimising how existing resources are used rather than bringing in a new platform.

The best solutions merge inexpensive, accessible technologies with a team's knowledge of the organisation's data. That leads to stronger expertise and team enthusiasm and prevents overly complex commercial tools from becoming unused shelfware.

Moreover, businesses should establish clear data governance policies without getting bogged down in technical jargon. They should define data ownership, security protocols, and standardised definitions — all while keeping the rules simple and focused on enabling data sharing rather than restricting it.

No Compromise on Quality: How Do Businesses Overcome Technical Debt?

Resolving technical debt requires a mindset that avoids taking shortcuts or compromising on design/code quality to meet near-term goals. Technical debt that comes from short-term decision-making can compound rapidly into an unmanageable burden.

The problem is easier to handle when developers write high-quality and maintainable code while keeping software architectures scalable and flexible, breaking it down into modules. On top of that, automated testing and quick deployment practices can help them to detect and fix software issues faster.

With those development norms in place, it is still important to allocate time for refactoring and improving existing codebases. Failing to do that is one of the most common oversights businesses can make.

Actionable Tips to Successfully Embrace Digital Transformation

Summing up the above, here are the effective approaches and methods for businesses to begin or continue successful digital transformations.

  • Manage vision and strategy through vision workshops. Gather key stakeholders from different departments to define a vision for digital transformation and remove siloes.
  • Once a vision takes shape, create a clear transformation roadmap that breaks down the transformation journey into manageable phases and keeps employees on the same page. Within each phase, outline initiatives, timelines, resource requirements, and expected outcomes.
  • Encourage knowledge sharing and build a culture of collaboration to generate a continuous learning energy. Start forums, host meetups, or build communities of practice — organise spaces where employees can exchange knowledge and experience with colleagues.
  • Regularly assess current skill levels and identify areas where employees need additional training. Consider bringing on board new tech-savvy talent and leadership when necessary for transformation.
  • Invest in modern digital tools, platforms, and infrastructure. Combined with the right talent and competent leadership, the tech will drive a business toward transformations.
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