Entrepreneurs

Why Successful Digital Transformation Requires Speed and Agility Over a Long Period of Time


These days, organizations must be able to digitally transform pretty much constantly to evolve their business processes and systems, while reducing business risks and costs. But what’s most likely to lead to digital transformation, relevance, and success is making these technological changes rapidly, yet in phases; ‘going digital’ but thinking agilely, and coming up with the best road map and implementation plan possible. 

These days, technological change is an ongoing process. In fact, you can think of it as a series of shorter sprints that make up a whole marathon. This incremental digital transformation allows you to identify innovation gaps more quickly and get full value from tech investments over longer periods. That’s why many forward-thinking organizations adopt tech solutions that are driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning and are available for immediate use instead of instituting changes that could take months — or even years — to take effect.

What’s known as agile development has sped up the evolution of digital technologies, too. With more and more frequency, vendors provide software and systems before offering updates based on users’ requirements. These much quicker implementations mean that technological improvements can be made as users continue to think about their use cases. After all, it’s only when technology is deployed that users know what else they need to build upon it.

Still, whatever your level of digital maturity, transforming incrementally requires a road map of your entire journey. This blueprint will help you determine your use cases and technology deficits. It will help you take more of a phased approach to your digital transformation — and set benchmarks for success at every stage. What’s more, charting a course in this way allows you to figure out which tech solutions are most ideal for your organization and which ones only offer peripheral functionality. 

Many organizations, of course, have been rather sluggish to adapt to change, adopt technology like AI, and undergo a digital transformation of any kind. But in a 2020 McKinsey survey, 85 percent of respondents said their businesses have now “somewhat or greatly accelerated the implementation of technologies that digitally enable employee interaction and collaboration.” About half of all executives surveyed reported increasing the digitization of customer channels, and 35 percent reported the same for supply chains.

So, it would be a good idea for other leaders to assess their current digital state and define their business objectives, as well as determine their metrics for success. Also, you would do well to look for tech vendors that promise quick returns on investment (ROI) and facilitate the incremental change mentioned above.  

At the end of the day, technology solutions need to produce the desired results — across the entire enterprise. And that means organizations need to gradually integrate digital tools and think more agilely, as well as develop the necessary blueprints and plans of action. All this, to resolve process and system inefficiencies — as quickly as possible — and drive digital transformation over time.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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