How to Approach a Successful Digital Transformation for your Business

Tania Knight

December 5, 2022

digital transformation

In today’s ultra-competitive business environment, senior leaders are looking at new ways to leverage legacy, existing, and future technologies to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Digital transformation in the form of innovative experiences are likely to become the new normal that the modern consumer will come to expect from their favorite brands. In fact, according to Adobe, Australia and New Zealand customers have the highest customer experience expectations in the world.

With that in mind, how can you be sure that your business is positioned to provide the experience that today’s customers demand?

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation comes down to using technology to change the ways in which you do business, offer services, and provide solutions to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Microsoft defines it as “reimagining how you bring together people, data, and processes to create value for your customers and maintain a competitive advantage in a digital-first world.”

Why do you need a digital transformation strategy?

Many businesses, particularly those operating in environments that move as fast as retail, are adopting new digital processes and technologies every year. However, they lack a clear and cohesive business plan to properly implement and integrate these new digital processes and technologies and make the most out of them.

They end up with systems that don’t communicate well with one another, extended delays, and costly bottlenecks that come as a result of a lack of cross-functional planning and prioritisation. Sound familiar?

Five critical considerations

McKinsey Research has identified some critically important success factors for digital transformation. These factors call into five clear-cut categories:

  1. Having the right, digital-savvy leaders in place
  2. Building capacities for the workforce of the future
  3. Empowering people to work in new ways
  4. Giving day-to-day tools a digital upgrade
  5. Communicating frequently via traditional and digital methods

In considering all of these factors, how should today’s business leaders actually approach a transformation?

1. Define the vision

Your vision should clearly state what you want the business to become, and why. It should be simple, and inspiring. Consider the following:

  • What does the future look like?
  • How is it different to today?
  • How does it benefit your customers?
  • How does it benefit your team?

2. Assemble a transformation leadership team

Assembling a cross-functional team built around senior stakeholders from across your business is key. A digital transformation is a whole-of-business exercise, which means that leaders from almost all departments need to be involved. Include one or two members who are experienced with digital technologies to support the broader team. This exciting team will be counted on to:

  • Champion the vision and strategy
  • Represent your customers both internally and externally
  • Contribute to identification of dependencies, resource planning, and prioritisation
  • Provide support, guidance, and oversight to the teams executing your defined strategy

3. Document the ‘As Is’

You need to create a detailed picture of where you are now to enable identification of what needs to change, in order to achieve your vison.

Start with the perspective of your customers. Remember, your customers are going to evaluate their experience with your brand based on usefulness, simplicity, and ease of use. Additionally, they’ll consider how much they enjoy interacting and engaging with your brand.

With that in mind, examine each business unit below to determine where your organisation currently stands:

Performance – what’s working/what’s not working?

__Technology __– what technology is currently being used and how?

Data – what data is currently being used, and how? Is it accurate?

Operational Pain Points – what processes could be improved?

Ways of Working – are there tasks that could be automated?

Capabilities – what capabilities currently exist? Do teams need to be retrained or upskilled?

Projects – what projects are currently planned or underway?

Ideas – how does your team think digital technology can help them deliver on your organisation’s vision?

4. Develop the plan

Finally, it’s time to develop the plan. Here, you’ll identify all of the tasks that need to be completed throughout the course of your digital transformation strategy. These tasks generally fall into four groups which will assist you with phasing the work and building your roadmap.

Quick wins – high value, low effort tasks that deliver immediate benefits

Foundation – tasks that need to be done in order to build the foundation required to deliver the desired experience

Optimisation – existing processes and platforms that can be optimised or improved to accomplish an objective

Accelerate – tasks that need to be completed to accelerate business growth and achieve long-term objectives

5. Deliver

Once your plan is developed, it is time to deliver. At this stage it’s important to remember transformation means trying something new, which some team members may find difficult. Building a culture of learning and consistent improvement will help empower your team to experiment and try working in new ways.

Set KPIs for each project. Measure and celebrate the wins, learn from the losses, and apply the learnings to your overall plan. Your vision shouldn’t change, but the route that you take to get there might – and that’s okay.

This is also a good time to introduce some new ‘digital’ ways of working. There are some great collaborative tools that can help you with project & resource management – TrelloMondayJiraAsana and communication tools like Slack.

Always be sure to maintain clear and open communication with your transformation team, your project teams, and your overall business.

How Pattern can help

Pattern works across a range of clients including some of Australia’s most recognisable retailers and brands, as well as niche players and start-ups. We have helped several clients craft and deliver digital transformation strategies.

If you would like to understand more or discuss how Pattern can help you with your Digital Transformation, contact us today.

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