Why We Need To Think Differently About Digital Transformation – Forbes
Sanjib Sahoo serves as EVP and chief digital officer for Ingram Micro Inc. and is a recognized digital transformation visionary.
Digital transformation remains a top-of-mind leadership objective. However, the proof points for continued investment in digital transformation need to be far more evident and focused on the individual and blended experience of employees, customers and partners.
For those of us who work daily in this digital evolution, we’re seeing the need to redirect how we talk about and action digital transformation. Instead, we need to centralize efforts around the spirit of digitization and creating and capturing value, as well as delivering tangible benefits and measurable ROI.
Refining Digital Transformation’s Role In Business Growth
The last few years have been a teachable moment for businesses and consumers about value. Although some companies were agile enough to quickly move to a remote workforce, others are regrouping and would benefit in both the short and long term from a collective deep breath, taking the time to assess and evaluate digital’s role in the evolution of the business.
For example, cloud migration played an essential role in enabling the remote workforce quickly. Yet, future investments in cloud data storage costs and application licenses need to be filtered through the lens of improved operations, business growth and the delivery of a better employee, partner and customer experience.
Once these value assessments are made, a company needs to state its vision and establish a clear, executable plan built for infinite business models. With these two steps complete, it’s time to communicate to stakeholders—especially employees—and develop a regular cadence of collaborative communications. This helps build credibility and excitement within the entire organization and creates unstoppable energy that helps engage partners and customers.
Governance must also accompany any digital investment. Systematic measuring on an ongoing basis to determine which technology is contributing positively to EBITDA and which is detracting from the balance sheet is a necessary assessment to gauge value.
Moving From Digital Transformation To Digital Operations (DigiOps)
The fact is digital transformation has been happening for decades. It’s not new. The challenge now is to enact change to match the accelerated cadence of business while keeping employees, partners and customers satisfied in real time. The solution is to create an operating model that allows businesses to simultaneously perform and transform.
We call this approach DigiOps because it highlights the importance of creating an operational spirit to successfully make digital improvements. This model basically operationalizes the technology a company is building to improve the stakeholder experience and drive revenue growth. It forms an organization empowered to drive digital change, bringing together technology and business leaders and enabling them to take a proactive, integrated and informed approach to achieve results.
People And Communication Are Key To The Digital Transformation Journey
The heart of any successful digital transformation is human. Whether it’s a major architecture investment or a smaller, incremental plan, digital transformation can’t succeed without buy-in from executives, team leaders, internal key influencers and the tens, hundreds or thousands of employees who are charged daily with acting on the digital changes.
Leaders must take the time to communicate the company’s digital vision in town hall meetings, all-hands events and group conversations, even if they’ve delivered the message 50 times before. Think of it as being an evangelist—showing all employees the art of the possible and how much we can do to help the employee experience, which then helps serve the partners and customers better. We must communicate where we can go if we join hands, and then execute together and with passion.
A critical part of seeking buy-in is identifying the key influencers who will have a tremendous impact on whether employees will embrace the digital goals. This informal communication network is a powerful tool for telling the company’s digital story and encouraging employee support. It also goes a long way in developing a cohesive community of digital advocates within an organization. Consistent communication around why digital changes are important to the company’s vision of success can and will encourage employees to embrace these changes.
Technology Must Be Value-Driven
One last point: Companies planning their digital journey must always look through the lens of a chief value officer to ensure tangible value creation and capture for any digital initiative. Machine learning, AI, cloud data storage and analytics are all part of the fabric of next-generation businesses. However, we must use these technologies with true business value in mind, building new layers upon existing infrastructure to further enhance the employee, partner and customer experience. That is the core of how we must think forward about digital transformation.
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