Strategies for navigating digital transformation

By Anders Björklund

Strategies for navigating digital transformation

As technology improves and standardises, executive B2B teams and decision-makers are presented with many choices for implementing digital transformation, accompanied by various tools. While it might be thrilling to envision potential enhancements to your organisation, adopting a structured approach to digital transformation will help maintain focus and direction.

The recommended approach provides a systematic method for transitioning from point A, the pre-transformation phase, to point B, the post-transformation stage.

Here are some guiding questions and supplementary prerequisites to assist in crafting a feasible digital transformation strategy and plan.

Understanding the need for change

Like any strategic plan or approach developed for your company, designing your roadmap begins with identifying your purpose. It is crucial to uncover your company's specific challenges, which have significantly affected its success or operations and could be addressed through technology.

These challenges range from mundane, repetitive tasks like sending news or informational emails to more critical business needs like efficient data collection. It is also possible that you aim to tackle multiple challenges simultaneously. For instance, suppose your company needs help managing customer requests due to using different platforms for storing customer data and communicating with them. As a result, your sales representatives may need help accessing a customer's history with your company, as they have to sift through numerous records and navigate between platforms to find the necessary information. This consumes valuable time and leads to customer frustration due to prolonged issue resolution.

In this scenario, the need for a digital transformation becomes clear: your customer service team cannot provide the experiences and responses customers expect and desire due to long wait times and disorganised data storage. By identifying the fundamental challenges that necessitate a digital transformation, it becomes easier to establish the desired goals and metrics that will define the success of your transformation process.

Identifying transformation needs

As mentioned before, the challenges and pain points you have identified are the driving force behind the need for transformation. Once you clearly understand these challenges, it becomes easier to determine the necessary actions and steps to overcome them.

To guide yourself and your team through the transformation process, it is crucial to develop objectives and metrics. This involves defining workflows, identifying key stakeholders, and assigning critical tasks to achieve your goals.

If you have multiple pain points, it is important to establish at least one objective or goal for each of them. This makes sure that you address all the identified challenges effectively.

Once you have identified the objectives, setting a timeframe within which you aim to accomplish them to achieve a successful transformation is essential. Building upon the previous example of reps lacking access to a summary of client history, one objective could be to implement a streamlined process for inputting and cataloguing customer information within the year and to achieve a maximum one-minute wait time for accessing customer records and data during service interactions.

Having a clear and specific goal in mind allows you to determine the necessary steps and tools to achieve a successful transformation. It provides a benchmark against which you can measure your progress and assess the effectiveness of the tools and solutions you implement.

What you must change 

Determining the necessary technology to undergo your transformation successfully is a crucial step that requires thorough research and identification. Some technologies may serve as transitional tools to help you achieve your end goals, while others may become permanent solutions you use indefinitely.

Continuing with the previous example, it is essential to figure out the specific tools needed to transfer the existing data into the platform that your representatives will use to access customer information within the specified timeframe. Initially, you might require a data integration platform to merge data from various sources into a unified format. This tool facilitates the consolidation of existing data.

Also, you may need a sorting or categorisation tool that organises the data into relevant categories, making it easier for your representatives to access and use the information effectively.

Ultimately, this integrated and sorted data should be seamlessly integrated into your Customer Relationship Platform (CRM), accessible to all individuals involved in customer interactions. The CRM is a centralised hub where customer data is stored and managed, enabling a comprehensive view of customer history and facilitating efficient customer service and engagement.

By identifying the technology solutions for your specific transformation goals, you can ensure a smooth and successful implementation of the digital tools that will support and enhance your business processes.

Gain company-wide buy-In for digital transformation

A successful digital transformation initiative impacts all areas of your company. Therefore, obtaining buy-in from across the organisation is crucial, rather than simply expecting a seamless process to unfold. This important principle should follow the initial three guiding questions, as it helps to inspire buy-in based on what you have gathered so far.

To secure company-wide buy-in, it is necessary to present a clear and compelling "why" statement that explains the need for digital transformation. This statement should highlight the value proposition, outlining the benefits the company and its employees will derive from the change. You can garner support and enthusiasm for the initiative by clearly communicating the advantages and positive outcomes.

Also, sharing projections or providing a case study based on market research and competitive analysis can add credibility to your argument. This information can illustrate the potential impact of digital transformation on the company's performance and position in the market.

It is also essential to convey that the transformation process is inclusive and evolving. Instead of demanding that colleagues get on board and deal with the changes, please encourage them to participate and contribute actively. Invite questions, suggestions, and discussions about new tasks and approaches. Emphasise the collaborative nature of the transformation, fostering an environment where everyone feels engaged and invested in the process.

By inspiring buy-in, communicating the benefits, and encouraging active participation, you can pave the way for a more successful and collaborative digital transformation across the entire organisation.

Conduct thorough research on your industry and competitors 

Understanding your competitors is crucial when embarking on new initiatives, including digital transformation. Conducting a comprehensive competitive analysis lets you obtain a well-rounded picture of their performance and strategies.

You can explore how other businesses in your industry are approaching and implementing digital transformation through competitor research. By studying their successes and failures, you can identify valuable insights and uncover areas where your company has the opportunity to outperform them. This analysis helps you understand the competitive landscape and informs your transformation strategy by highlighting potential areas for differentiation and improvement.

In addition to analysing competitors, conducting overall market research is equally important. This broader research lets you gain insights into your industry's trends, challenges, and opportunities. By understanding the market dynamics, you can assess how your company compares to industry standards and identify areas where digital transformation can help you stay ahead of the curve. Market research can also inspire and guide, providing valuable insights and ideas to shape your transformation process further.

You comprehensively understand the competitive landscape and industry context by combining competitor analysis and market research. This knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions, identify strategic advantages, and position your company for success in its digital transformation journey.

Allocate a digital transformation budget 

Implementing a digital transformation can be a significant investment, particularly if it involves overhauling existing methods. Therefore, it is essential to allocate a budget once you clearly understand your purpose and the necessary changes to be made. Your budget should encompass all potential expenses during the digital transformation process.

Consider including software costs for transitional or permanent tools utilised during the transformation. This may involve purchasing or subscription fees for new software solutions that support your desired changes. Also, could you factor in the costs of hiring new colleagues with the skills and expertise required for digital transformation? This may involve recruitment expenses, onboarding, and training costs.

Employee training is another essential aspect to include in your budget. As you introduce new technologies and workflows, providing training programmes to ensure your team members are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills is crucial for a successful transformation.

It is also important to allocate funds for unexpected expenses in your budget. Digital transformations involve significant change, and preparing for unforeseen challenges or complications is essential. This contingency fund allows you to address and overcome adaptation difficulties, ensuring a smoother transition.

By carefully considering all possible expenses and including them in your budget, you can ensure that you have the necessary resources to effectively support your digital transformation efforts. This proactive approach to budgeting helps minimise potential financial obstacles and sets your transformation journey on a path to success.

Develop a digital transformation roadmap

After gathering all the necessary information and understanding the requirements of your digital transformation, the next step is to implement your approach. As previously mentioned, this implementation is the process that takes you from the initial pre-transformation state (point A) to the desired post-transformation state (point B). You will rely on your digital transformation roadmap to guide and navigate this journey effectively.

The digital transformation roadmap is a strategic plan outlining the steps, milestones, and timelines for executing your transformation initiatives. It provides a clear path forward, ensuring all stakeholders understand the necessary actions and their respective roles in achieving the desired outcomes.

You can effectively communicate the planned initiatives through the roadmap, prioritise activities, allocate resources, and track progress. It helps keep the transformation process organised and aligned with your company's goals and objectives.

By following the digital transformation roadmap, you can ensure a systematic and structured approach to implementing your chosen strategies and initiatives. It serves as a guiding framework that facilitates the successful execution of your transformation efforts and helps you navigate the complexities and challenges that may arise during the process.

A digital transformation guide

In this guide, you can learn why digital transformation matters, what successful initiatives look like, and how to avoid common pitfalls.

For more short insights like this, click below to subscribe to The Onlinification Hub; that way, you'll get notified when we publish new articles.

Subscribe to The Onlinification Hub

Anders Björklund
Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B.
Keep me updated!