What does the term digital even mean? In today’s context, it is cliche and it’s used repeatedly as a way to describe a company’s culture and operating model. The term is also often used as a target and aspirational state for a transformation – a digital transformation.
For starters, in order to successfully transform from anything to something else, you must know three fundamental things.
- What do you want your future state to be? (this post)
- What is your current state?
- What is a route to get there?
Simple, right? Digital transformation is hardly simple. It will likely take years to transform a company. But it is comforting to know these basic fundamentals can guide you. Let’s assume you’re a CEO and you’d like to transform your company. Let’s start with #1.
I don’t know what it is, but I want to start a digital transformation!– No CEO Ever
Yes, this is a bit of a silly fake news (I made up the quote), but it gets to the heart of my point of this post. What does it mean to be digital? To be fair, if you ask 100 transformation experts, you’ll likely get 100 different answers to this question. With that caveat, here are key 5 features of being digital, based on my experience and understanding.
When it’s digital, a company …
- Uses the data that it manages, experiences and captures during the course of doing business to make proactive decisions.
- Uses automation to improve the efficiency and lower the cost of business processes.
- Creates agility for the business through a process of continuous improvement based on data & analytics.
- Improves customer experience by creating consistency across all touch points of engagement with the customer.
- Sees technology as the key enabling profit center of its business, not simply as a cost center.
In my definition, if you do these 5 things, you are a digital company.
Where your company is today is fundamental to the success of a transformation. The digital maturity of an organization is something you can measure. Further, a key feature of a being digital is to continuously improve using data & analytics. That is, your digital transformation roadmap should include an awareness of your desired future state & your current state…and your roadmap should continuously evolve as you learn along the way.
For each company, the specific value proposition and benefit of being digital will be different. Company cultures are unique, and operating models need to properly fit cultures. However, I do believe every company would benefit from authentic, top down support, coming from the executive leadership team, to mature the digital cultures within their organizations.