Colin: Colin: Seven tips

We’re facing a time of industry disruption. The increasing global emphasis to digitally transform their operations in order to remain competitive has seen a huge increase in the uptake of disruptive new technologies such as internet of things, AI and the cloud. According to a new report commissioned by Dell technologies, over half of firms have already experienced disruption to their industries as a result of new digital technologies and digital transformation processes. Meanwhile, research firm Gartner's CIO Agenda suggests digital business will represent an average of 36 per cent of a business's overall revenue by 2020. Businesses are in desperate need of under-the-bonnet change to deliver true transformation as well as leading customer experience. So what steps can be taken to ensure your business doesn’t get left behind? Paul Vallois, Managing Director of experience transformation agency Nimbletank, shares his seven tips for successful transformation.

  1. Develop a vision and share it: Digital transformation, by its nature, will be as varied and complex as the business itself. Business processes can encompass a whole range of initiatives. You need the business behind you. In order to do this you’ll need a clear, singular vision, the context to your thinking and a simple way to share and communicate this. Everyone in the business needs to be taken on the journey and involved at every step of the way.
  2. Define a roadmap: A vision is powerful and moving but to deliver and maintain confidence, a roadmap is essential. The roadmap will also allow stakeholders to raise flags regarding impact on their business areas and identify blockers. Always understand what to track, and create a culture of continuous measurement.
  3. Involve IT early: Even if the strategy isn’t concerning digital transformation the likelihood is it could impact IT, tech stacks and legacy systems. The capital expenditure impact can be large and needs to be considered early on so as not to derail progress.
  4. Agree your methodology: Agile is great but not every organisation can adopt the methodology. Agile means different things to different people. Define what success looks like at the beginning too and get stakeholder buy-in to this.
  5. Don’t believe everything that customers tell you: Research is critical for successful transformation and developing customer-centric solutions. However, unconscious behaviours as well as verbal ones provide a true indication of customers’ motivations and drivers. Consider engaging psychologists for this purpose to get to the core of understanding how customers and users change every day and the need to be agile enough to respond to them. One of the biggest challenges is to work at the pace of digital natives like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, which will roll out new products and features every day to suit customers’ demands.
  6. It’s not all about digital: Even in digital transformation strategies, digital is only a part of the solution. There are many other dependencies and considerations depending on the nature of the business, including manufacturing, call centres, customer service, employees and distribution. Transformation is often of a global nature so culture and language training, for example, may be necessary to help make the service desk aware of regional differences for smoother interactions with customers.
  7. Pivot: Transformation takes time. Things change - competitors, products, people - and success requires flexibility. The people leading the process need to be comfortable with uncertainty.
Digital transformation is a journey with multiple connected intermediary goals and can’t happen overnight. A business’ digital strategy needs to bridge the gap between online and offline, not just focus on the online world. To succeed in creating new digital experiences requires a shift in skillsets, and embracing a collaborative culture, where people pool ideas and share expertise. The companies that are most likely to succeed in digital transformation are those with open minds that are happy to take risks.

Paul Vallois, Managing Director of Nimbletank