Business leaders aren’t simply deploying digital transformation to cut costs and become more efficient. Companies are embracing digital transformation as a means to create entirely new business models.

It’s not about ripping up legacy contracts and embracing cutting-edge tech – these can be part of the process, but they are not the goal. The true goal of digital transformation is a user-first approach to business that drives new revenue streams, increases customer loyalty and improves staff retention. It will also drive material changes in how you do business.

What is Digital Transformation?
Is a set of technologies changing people, customers, industries,companies, products and services. Digital transformation is imperative for all businesses, from the small to the enterprise. Because digital transformation will look different for every company, it can be hard to pinpoint a definition that applies to all. However, in general terms, we define digital transformation as the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers.

The key pillars of digital transformation are mobile, cloud, big data and social.

Mobile initiatives include equipping staff with smartphones or tablets and developing apps for employees, customers and partners to use. Cloud computing makes business flexible and cost effective and, in partnership with big data analysis, gives business unprecedented insights in real time. And social networking expands a company’s ability to effectively communicate with customers.

Why does digital transformation matter?
There are a number of reasons that a business may undergo digital transformation, but by far, the most likely reason is that they have to. It’s a survival issue for many. CIOs worried about their company’s – and their own – survival should focus on securing company-wide support and collaboration to get digital transformation right from the start.

Is digital transformation for you?
Companies that ask themselves if digital transformation is for them are asking the wrong question.

It’s not a case of if they need digital transformation, but where and how they need to deploy these technologies. Mobile and the cloud are revolutionising workforces for companies large and small. Equipping staff with mobile technology and connecting them on the move with business applications rapidly enhances the productivity and availability of the workforce. It also improves employee happiness and retention, because today’s workers like the flexibility of being able to work from anywhere.

Where to Start

A common misconception is that digital transformation begins and ends with technology. Companies shouldn’t define digital transformation as simply an increased investment in IT. Customer experience must drive the digital strategy behind transformation if companies are to see significant gains from customer insight and engagement.

To stay competitive in digital business, enterprises should look at where they are now and determine what core elements of digital transformation they need to focus on. What’s important is that you start somewhere.

Though no one has a comprehensive roadmap for digital transformation, the following best practices have emerged over the past five years:

Vision + Investment – How far your business can go depends on the reach of your vision and the level of investment you commit to.

Digital Strategy – Have a strategy that accounts for the full scope of your vision, rather than the implementation of individual technologies.

Leadership – Because digital transformation requires in-depth organizational change and coordination, it is more effective when led from the top layer of the business.

Uniting Business and IT – Breaking down the barriers between Business and IT goes hand in hand with operational change. As digital business increases software needs, it will be important for Business and IT to merge their work so there are no conflicts in adapting technology.

Third-Party Solutions – Look for partners who have specific strengths in your areas of weakness. Structure relationships as partnerships, with an expectation of knowledge sharing and frequent communication. This mitigates the risk of creating siloed information across multiple vendors and becoming dependent on a vendor’s availability or timeline.

This is the transformation that will allow your business to respond instantly to the marketplace, innovate faster, analyse more deeply and give your users what they want almost before they know they want it.

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