Digital transformation has been the buzzword for several years, and for good reason. With the benefits of automation, better labor management and better business insights, its value is clear. And whether it was accelerated by the sudden need for remote working or by building on initiatives already in place, the discussion about the digitization of modern businesses is not going to end anytime soon.
But digital transformation can become problematic when seen as a solution to everything for the company. In fact, when not implemented properly, it can lead to issues ranging from day-to-day frustrations to costly system errors and downtime.
So how do companies take advantage of the gains while avoiding the potential mishaps of digital transformation? Start by taking a close look at some of the best practices – do’s – as well as common missteps – don’ts.
Do: Approach digital transformation from the top down
A comprehensive digital transformation strategy affects the entire organization, so leadership must come from the top. Strong executive support is key to getting the whole business on the same page and overcoming sticking points and issues that arise afterwards.
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C-level communication about the value of digital transformation and why new processes and tools come into play will help employees understand the importance of these changes. New technology implementations inevitably involve a learning curve, so make sure all employees are properly trained on new applications.
Do: Consider organizational silos
Think of all the departments and employees with different day-to-day tasks – what access or permission will each need to do their jobs while working under different management styles?
There’s a lot of room for error when trying to mobilize an entire business, and digital transformation efforts can exacerbate or bridge business silos. Set up clear and easy-to-follow processes from the start. An easy way to do this is to consider solutions that integrate with your current technology stack. For example, if security and access control are built into the platform your business operates on, you won’t have to worry about the wrong employees gaining access to sensitive information.
Do: Test, measure, test again
When you release new software, you test it, change it, and iterate. This is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and tuning to achieve optimal results for users. You undoubtedly do this for customers, so why should the process be any different for your employees?
You can integrate the best software on the market to facilitate your digital transformation aspirations, but if the user experience is not compatible or difficult to use with other business-critical applications, your initiative is in trouble. Something as simple as an employee survey or compiling feedback from managers can help leaders understand gaps in their technology implementations and identify areas for improvement.
You can integrate the best software on the market to facilitate your digital transformation aspirations, but if the user experience is not compatible or difficult to use with other business-critical applications, your initiative is in trouble.
Don’t: secondary security
Digital transformation allows us to work faster and smarter by allowing greater access to the information we need. But it also makes us more vulnerable than ever to hackers.
Securing the remote workforce has added an extra layer to an already complex problem that all modern businesses face. According to Gartnermore than half of CIOs planned to increase the number of full-time IT employees to accelerate digital initiatives in 2021, with top initiatives including security operations.
This is certainly a step in the right direction, but rather than relying solely on IT security talent, companies should also focus on practicing good security hygiene and looking for solutions that integrate security into their offers. Far too often, security and compliance are secondary considerations, but with the increasingly digital nature of work and data storage, businesses simply cannot afford a data breach.
[ Read also: Digital transformation: 4 ways to build in security ]
Don’t: bite off more than you can chew
The past two years have been characterized by companies rushing to move forward when in reality most are struggling to keep up. Increasingly, remote and hybrid work environments have made it necessary to accelerate certain areas of digital transformation, but smart organizations will take stock of how these changes are affecting day-to-day business operations.
With today’s job market – what economists call the great quit – and a very real IT skills gap, companies need to retain talent. It means making sure employees feel empowered to do their jobs and provide value. They can’t do it if they’re exhausted or struggling to overcome technical obstacles. The last thing you want is to invest in new digital transformation solutions that no one is using.
Digital transformation is the future of business, but it’s not an all-or-nothing effort. Gradual progress is always progress, and a slower approach can actually benefit your organization in the long run. By heeding these tips, you can eliminate some of the noise that may be preventing you from realizing the true benefits of digital transformation.
[Get answers to key digital transformation questions and lessons from top CIOs: Download our digital transformation cheat sheet.]