By building a clear digital strategy, organizations can bring order to the chaos of prioritizing and managing the many tasks that teams will undertake to drive real organizational change.

Driving Digital Transformation Efforts through Prioritization

The process of initiating change through digital efforts at the enterprise level is no overnight phenomenon. The idea that a company, especially one rooted in tradition and history, needs to overhaul its approach to adapt to a 21st century unkind to digital laggards is not always an easy process to get off the ground. To make matters more challenging, these efforts can be slowed by unforeseen or external complications. In a digital world of unknowns, it is the process of building clear, well-understood prioritization effort to tackle these transformational efforts is essential.

To get there, companies driving towards or investing in digital innovation initiatives must focus on specific tasks if they want their efforts to have impact. From securing their roadmap, to ensuring flexibility during a drastic organizational change, the biggest and most pressing issue in ensuring the success of a digital transformation is simply knowing what to do, and when.

Choosing Leadership

The first and most important piece needed to drive a digitally transformative change in your organization is hiring the right leader to champion charge. The challenge here, clearly, is finding a leader with the skill set required to be both creative and analytical. Respondents to a recent IIC Partners study found the most-preferred backgrounds in a Chief Digital Officer included extensive experience in technology (45% cited) or marketing (43%). This digital native would push to establish a company vision around the business’s digital technologies, build traction within the organizational leaders and stakeholders around current and future needs, and prioritize efforts based on impact around financial, operational, and product level requirements.

Digital leadership should also provide a holistic view of the digital threats and opportunities facing all aspects of the business, as well as be able to deliver a method for linking these factors to a digital roadmap that can predict how changes will affect the overall vision and direction of the business.

By building a clear digital strategy, organizations can bring order to the chaos of prioritizing and managing the many tasks that teams will undertake to drive real organizational change.

Defining Digital Priorities

Buzzword ideas and marquee-worthy improvements seemed to be at the forefront of digital roadmaps in 2016, with mobile websites (84%), social media (78%) and big data (71%) being noted as “very important aspects of digital transformation,” according to executives around the world. Despite giving off a tech vibe, these figures represent a somewhat static mentality of prioritization for digital strategy roadmaps. Building a strategy with these concepts first will simply align a company to the crowd and leave little room to create change and innovation in any industry. Ironically, these buzzwords represent a narrow digital focus with too few inputs in an age of limitless information.

What is required, then, is a more mature approach that takes into account a set of objectives and priorities assessed through many lenses. By using digital as an enabler instead of simply an end goal, a business can ask itself these questions:

  • Has the business defined their current position in the digital ecosystem by benchmarking themselves against their competitors?
  • Does the business have the right people and teams in place to initiate and drive new digital efforts and how does it make the necessary improvements to get there?
  • Does the digital roadmap include measurements of success or failure that can be iterated on?
  • Are teams empowered to make the needed business decisions to succeed?

The reality of many large organizations in need of digital transformation is a complex one: priorities are misaligned, goals and objectives often restate the same ideas to the detriment of actual progress, and processes are often so segmented that little can be accomplished. To sift through these challenges, organizations should be asking themselves the above questions and using the answers to drive a better understanding of where they are, and how to get where they need to be.

Building a Digital Strategy

When you begin to gather a holistic understanding of the current state of priorities inside your business, the approach can be simpler than you might expect. Many of the facets that businesses think about when deciding on prioritization — stakeholder influence, ROI, the level of effort — can be combined with a digital approach to generate a more advanced understanding of business priorities. For example, questions could revolve around the following:

  • How do these improvements improve customer experience?
  • Can we influence our overall standing against digital trends pushing our industry to the next level of digital maturity?
  • Will this allow us to gather more revenue from omnichannel experiences like mobile payments or IoT?

To address these questions, building a framework of strategic enablement across the core sectors of the business will be vital. Defining costs, timelines, KPI’s, and resources will all be required to build a digital roadmap that pushes a company forward in an efficient and effective way. After defining, prioritizing, and building a digital strategy that works, executing and constantly measuring results will more thoroughly guarantee positive outcomes from a business’s transformation efforts.

As complicated as this all may sound, there are many success stories from businesses who have taken these steps and used the positive results to be leaders in this dynamic environment.

For example, an ecommerce retailer like Saks successfully balanced its many competing priorities and implemented what has turned out to be a wildly successful foray into the digital age. The most important step of their story was the legwork done to understand the competing factors underlying their immediate goals both internally and as it related to their direct competition.

What is the impact, bottom line or otherwise, of any of these initiatives? What projects provide the necessary, measurable results the company is looking to accomplish? These are the types of questions businesses need to be asking themselves when prioritizing next steps in building their digital roadmap and transforming themselves into digital leaders.