Digital transformation is a journey that every organisation is on, to one extent or another. But few are seeing the promised results of new systems and processes they’ve implemented, or they are lagging behind in their implementation. A shift in business thinking is required as the digital enterprise works differently from the pre-digital business. It has to be globally connected, immediately responsive, hugely collaborative, data-driven, and always on – constantly adapting and changing. 

Today’s corporate leaders must realise that they need to disrupt or risk being disrupted and rethink the way they innovate with new approaches and how they leverage technology. Also, new ways of thinking must be led from the top. In a recent survey of senior level IT executives, close to half (49 percent) of the fast-growing companies’ digital transformation efforts were lead directly by the CEO.

Fortunately there are six ways to speed your organisation towards better ways of working to achieve digital transformation:

1. Assess All Barriers

You need to look at things from both a process and an information point of view. Silos have to be broken down and any disjointed parts of the organisation must be working coherently to a common purpose. Know the strengths and pitfalls of every part of the business and connect the dots effectively, to allow seamless flow of digital information and processes across functional boundaries (known as “Digital Flow”).

2. Transform More Than Just Data

A lot of people focus on the data such as client information or the product databases. But there is a significant amount of information in the form of content and documents too. The flow of information across an organisation has to be looked at as a whole, in order to understand how unstructured content interacts with operational processes.

3. Get A Wider Perspective

A successful digital enterprise will look at the customer journey as a whole experience, not just be focused on the customer interaction, on the front end, such as the website or the call centre. No matter what the customer’s entry way is, there should be a consistent experience across every touch point and actions must be followed up in the same manner. Encompassing the whole value chain through fulfilment, distribution, customer support, as well as relationships with third-party supplier organisations.

4. Plug Process Gaps

Unsuccessful digital transformation means you end up having performance gaps, and this usually implies two things: operational delays and a lot of manual processes. Information flow and processes get stuck, which results in unnecessary customer frustration caused by chasing around to make things happen and following through to check if those things did happen. And rather than a system driving an experience, the system itself becomes a hindrance, as messages end up stagnating in email inboxes, with attachments that have to be manually processed and passed on to someone else for actioning. A lot of time and valuable resources are wasted. These frustrations then filter down to the customer, or partner, etc., because their experience is not as good, fast or efficient as it could be.

5. Prioritise Customers, Suppliers Or Partners

Interaction points need to be digital and efficient. On the customer side you’ve got the commercial aspects of trying to maintain customer loyalty and develop the relationship. With third parties you also want to be equally flexible. You need to be able to add and remove partners when necessary, to build a fluid ecosystem that meets the organisation’s needs better. That could be outsourcing parts of your own process, or having commercial relationships with a third party.

6. Get Every Department On-Board

The whole business has to be included in the digital transformation design, not just the IT department or IT architects. You have to look at the journey of every interaction or transaction holistically and ask, who is involved? Which departments are required? What is the expected behaviour? Is it intuitive? Then deduce what actions you need and how to orchestrate them. Consistent with the principles of “Design Thinking”, the thinking has to start from the customer experience in, rather than from an architectural blueprint out.

Digital transformation cannot be achieved by simply putting a few new processes in place. In order to reap the benefits and pull ahead of competitors, business must take a holistic view of their entire organisation and embrace new ways of thinking starting in the C-suite. This will ensure optimal flow between a user and their experience, optimise innovation from both inside and outside the organisation, and automate processes from a single, central solution. As a result, the exchange of capabilities and data is valuable, repeatable and connects users with information and/or services quickly and meaningfully. Only then can they develop and build an infrastructure that is robust and agile, to speed an organisation to work more efficiently in order to achieve digital transformation.