Though it can involve radically changing what your company does or stands for, digital transformation can also just make you better at providing the same goods or services by ensuring that none of the digital tools available today go underutilized. As any executive knows, even the slightest efficiency could give you an edge over your competitors — and digital transformation is the surest way of finding those efficiencies.

Effective transformation means being flexible about how you achieve the change you want, even how you define that change. Once you embark on the process of digital transformation, you’ll find new opportunities for improvement along the way — you might even find opportunities to embrace groundbreaking technology that could make you a leader in digital initiatives. Identify the issues you want to solve while remaining open to big and potentially risky ventures to optimize your company’s digital potential.

Transformation can alter the structure of your business model or simply change the software tool your company uses to complete a specific task — it all depends on what you want digital to do for you. Once you’ve assessed the skills of your employees, your current customer experience, and the digital infrastructure you have in place, you can develop a digital strategy, laying out each stage of your planned transformation in detail.

Where exactly you’ll want to go, though, depends on where you currently are. There are several stages on the road to full digital maturity, the ideal status of any company looking to lead in its field.

  • Primitive: Companies like these are missing very basic digital components like social media presence and mobile websites, making them irrelevant, if not invisible, to most of today’s consumers. This stage exemplifies a complete absence of digital maturity.
  • Reactive: Meeting the bare minimum of customer expectation regarding digital earns you the status of “interactive.” You could have an eCommerce platform, for instance, but it might be one that is difficult to use or unfriendly with mobile. Interactive companies display some digital maturity, but it’s still deficient.
  • Progressive: A progressive company is well on its way to digital maturity, but it’s still lagging behind some of the top companies in its space. These companies typically use a mobile-first approach, rely heavily on cloud technologies, and quickly remove any reported bugs or bottlenecks.
  • Immersive: At this stage, a company can be said to have reached digital maturity, keeping more at-pace with the digital landscape than almost all of its competitors. Immersive businesses have begun to integrate physical and digital to create omnichannel experiences for their customers, and use digital tools to personalize those experiences as much as possible.
  • Transformative: Beyond digital maturity, these companies are the leaders and innovators in their field for their mastery of tech. Processes are often fully automated, and the lines between human and technological have been blurred completely. Companies like these might be implementing technology like virtual reality or driverless vehicles to augment their services.

Everyone wants to be transformative in their sector, a company that permanently and completely changes how their business is done. But reaching that kind of mastery takes time, investment, and plenty of risk. Before you can lead the shift in how businesses everywhere work, you have to make sure your own company does what it’s supposed to in the most efficient way possible.