Pete Hanlon is CTO of Moneypenny. Moneypenny handles outsourced phone calls, live chat and digital comms for thousands of companies globally


Digital transformation is about more than implementing the latest big innovation. It’s about rethinking how you use technology in your organization in order to adapt to an ever-changing business landscape and to transform your processes, culture and customer experience.

To succeed with digital transformation, you need the right environment and the right people in place. Any team needs to be balanced: a group of diverse thinkers whose strengths and weaknesses level-up to create something stronger together. They need a culture in which they can have open and honest discussions, share their thoughts and feel safe — it is the foundation upon which successful teams are built.

Before we delve into the team itself, it is critical to remind ourselves that any transformation will need a strong governance team. This will need empowerment from the top as it will undoubtedly impact numerous stakeholders, some of which may not be onboard. Buy-in and visible support from the CEO and executives are essential to ensure that your project goals are aligned with the overall strategy and that company strategy is aligned to your project.

With those factors in mind, here are five players needed on every digital transformation dream:

The Visionary

This role is an influencer that lays the path for the project team. The visionary keeps an eye on the bigger picture, ensuring that the key areas of the business, such as senior stakeholders and the executive team, understand the goals and impact of the change and are fully supportive.

Visionaries are the relationship builders and culture evangelists. They will be passionate and inspire others to commit to a shared vision, communicating change throughout the organization and building a sense of urgency around the change. The visionary should be forward-looking, innovating for the future.

The Planner

The planner requires full empowerment from the top in order to succeed and the ear of the senior sponsors. They understand the need for change and can operate with agility throughout the process.

Planners will drive the program of technical and organizational change, training, stakeholder alignment and steering for the project. They will also advocate for your customer experience, revisiting and optimizing every step of the way.

The Analyst

This is a process-oriented thinker that understands how the business operates today and can optimize how the business should operate in the future.

Analysts will map out process flows, identify efficiency gains and ensure the future vision isn’t anchored by old ways of working. They will also help to demonstrate the ROI of the project, helping to retain support, budget and buy-in for the transformation journey.

The Architect

An architect is a holistic thinker and technical expert who is trusted and respected and who is given the task to work with the analysts to understand business problems and design technology solutions.

Architects will connect systems and reengineer processes, identifying capabilities and gaps. Trusted and respected, they act as a bridge between the analysts and the implementation teams.

The Product Leader

Pragmatic, data driven, visionary, the product leader works with key stakeholders to ensure the product is solving the right business needs in the right way.

Product leaders operate at the sharp end of the project and will be able to identify domain-specific business needs and translate business requirements into technical requirements. They provide the balance between the internal and external so that you create experiences that work for everyone involved.

Pulling It All Together

Once you have identified who fits which role on this dream team, you have already made it most of the way down the road. However, there’s no time to rest, as you need to set them up for success with empowered, cross-functional, agile delivery teams so that everyone is engaged with a clear set of outcomes. Clear organizational objectives need to be aligned to the company strategy, championed by the CEO and a board agenda item. They need to be aligned to other departments, too, so that they too are incentivized to make the transformation a success.

To enable the dream team, introduce a mission control, a place where all work is visualized and tracked and where they can generate feedback, pivot and learn as they go. Digital transformation is a continual process; unlike other projects, it does not come to an end once it has been delivered. Because of digital transformation’s evolutionary and perpetual nature, setting realistic timelines that are constantly revisited and reworked is vital.

Digital transformation requires a rethinking of the ways we work. It requires end-to-end vision. It requires excellent people skills. Communication is a key factor for success, but the right environment also has to be there. There has to be a culture of collaboration, empowerment, cross-functionality, trust and customer-centricity. Without this, your transformation will be limited. There will be improvement and positivity, yes, but not a true and fundamental evolution.

Digital transformation is hard work, but it is well worth the effort. Do it in the right way, with the right people, and you are building an agile culture that is ready for sustainable growth, success and to take on the future of business.

Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives. Do I qualify?