The Roadmap to Digital Transformation

Date:   Monday , October 31, 2016

Headquartered in U.S., Progress (NASDAQ: PRGS) is a global leader in application development, empowering the digital transformation organizations need to create and sustain engaging user experiences in today\'s evolving marketplace. With offerings spanning web, mobile and data for on-premise and cloud environments, the entity empowers startups & industry titans’ worldwide, promoting success one customer at a time.
Technology is constantly evolving and just when you think you have adapted to the latest, there is something new in the market. Be it medicine, shopping, entertainment or education, you name it - technology has a part to play. While everyday life is continuously adapting and upgrading, business too needs to keep pace. Faced with the risk of becoming redundant, it has become essential for all businesses to draw a digital transformation strategy.

While most are aware of the need to make this change, what’s worrying is that not everyone is willing, ready or capable of hopping onto the digital bandwagon. With the advent of new tools and innovations such as cloud computing and IoT, it is of utmost relevance today to have a roadmap for digital transformation.

What is ‘Digital Transformation’?

Before delving into how to approach this transformation, it is important to understand - What ‘digital transformation’ entails? Digital transformation essentially helps accelerate business activities, processes and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact in a strategic and prioritized manner.

Digital transformation can be used to describe anything from creating a fully responsive mobile website to developing a social media strategy, but in reality true transformation needs to involve much more than just the end product. While this includes creating customer, facing apps and websites, it is by no means limited to these. Digital transformation is in fact a top to bottom rethink of what it means to operate in a digital world.

Set Clear Objectives

When a business decides to undergo the transformation, the first step should be to set clear objectives rather than getting consumed with the details. Ask yourself questions such as - Will this have the right impact on the business? Will it create an outcome for your business? Also, be clear on the action you are taking, e.g. Are you updating an existing application or creating a new one? How robust are your real data needs?

Factoring all of this, it is important to keep in mind the end goal and let the tactics follow. If you can’t trace a tangible business benefit from a process, scrap it. In fact, a digital transformation project should align with the business objectives and create tactics based on those objectives.

Work as a Cohesive Unit

To implement the overall strategy, everyone should be on board and moving in the same direction. Organizations should thus understand that digital transformation is not a one man show and therefore it is important to make sure that everything aligns. Change should not be imposed in an ad-hoc, top down manner. Instead, everyone in the organisation needs to understand that they play a key role in the transformation.

If not approached in a structured manner, projects will fall due to contradictory elements or a simple lack of communication. Digital transformation will only be a success if everyone is moving in the same direction.

Keep User Experience at the Fore

In this process, businesses also need to understand what implications digital transformation will have on the user experience which is at the crux of digital transformation. This means taking advantage of tools and solutions that create consistent and personalised experiences across platforms, making sure all the features run seamlessly.

We often hear that CIOs or Digital Information Officers (DIOs) drive digital transformation in an organisation. However, they are dependent on the user. Users are the ones who should dictate the direction of product development.

However, what is user experience and how can a business target it? The point here is to think through the entire user experience, instead of just focusing on one aspect e.g. mobile or web app. What must be considered is how users should or would want to interact with the application across different devices.

Any good digital transformation strategy will run in tandem with the development of technology for the user alongside user feedback, testing and a systems management programme to educate the users on the benefit of the final product. Nailing the user experience is a major factor in the successful digital transformation of a business.

Choose the Right Technology

Digital Transformation is not about implementing new technology, it is about making the most of technology to drive new behaviours and maximise talent. It is about finding new ways to stay close to the customers and partners. The best strategy would be to use technology to truly personalise web experiences across all screens and interfaces. This would mean modernising existing applications and deciding the course new business applications will take tomorrow. Digital transformation is, in fact, a great opportunity for technology experts to drive business goals by empowering and encouraging business leaders to embrace its full implications.

Looking ahead, those who don’t embrace digital change will lose out. At a time when customers seek new experiences, partners want greater access, and employees want greater convenience to be able to access systems from wherever they are, a holistic digital transformation strategy is a must. Embarking on this journey, an organisation needs to identify its needs and challenges, define objectives and principles and then select the right way ahead.