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Strategy 101: What a digital transformation really means

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A digital transformation strategy is an organization’s approach to incorporating digital technology throughout the enterprise to achieve increased efficiencies, improve customer experience and meet business goals.

Digital transformation is a priority for many organizations, but it won’t happen successfully without an organization-wide strategy. That’s because digital transformation isn’t just about implementing new technologies or moving systems to the cloud; it also involves shifts in culture, processes and workflows.

It’s clear that the digital experience is one of the most critical factors—if not the most critical factor—that will define businesses’ success immediately and into the future. Learn more here.

What is a digital transformation strategy?

A digital transformation strategy is a detailed plan for how an organization will approach and accomplish its goals of digitizing its business. Without a strategy, an organization may undertake one-off digital projects, with individual departments adopting new technologies or new digital pursuits in silos. However, these individual, siloed projects don’t qualify as a true digital transformation.

Genuine digital transformation means making digital innovation a core component of the organization’s identity. That can only happen with a clear strategy that considers the people, processes and operational changes that must also be included in order to effectively leverage digital technologies to deliver customer solutions at scale.

How does a digital transformation strategy benefit customers?

Almost three quarters (72%) of customers’ interactions with organizations are digital, according to a 2022 survey of more than 1,000 IT leaders. A comprehensive digital transformation strategy can make it possible for an organization to maximize those interactions, providing a seamless, customized experience that better meets the individual customer’s expectations.

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For example, if you’ve ever shopped at Amazon, you know that every time you navigate to the retailer’s site, you’ll be reminded of the items you recently purchased (or just looked at). You’ll also get a list of recommendations based on your past purchases or visits. By harnessing data from your recent experiences, Amazon is able to provide you with a customized experience that may drive you to make new purchases.

Mobile devices, apps and other digital technologies have made it possible for consumers and B2B buyers to find whatever they’re looking for with just a few clicks. The wealth of available information, products and services has changed the way consumers and B2B buyers make purchasing decisions. Your customers expect relevant content related to what they need or want, and they expect it to be available anywhere, anytime and in the format and device they choose.

Almost eight in 10 (79%) of digital transformation leaders say they’ve been able to create better customer experiences as a result of their digital efforts and investments. With a focused digital transformation strategy, you can make sure you provide what your potential customers want and improve their customer experience.

What’s included in a successful digital transformation strategy?

It can be easy to get stuck in the discussion phase of developing a digital transformation strategy. While there is much to ponder, it’s crucial to move beyond the ideological phase of discussing and into the strategic phase of building an actual plan.

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A successful digital transformation strategy should include six components:

  1. Rationale. Your organization and its leaders should agree on the reasons for the digital transformation
  2. Culture change. You need a plan for how you will create and foster the cultural changes that will be needed to build an environment that’s ripe for innovation.
  3. Project plans. No organization can tackle all the digital transformations it may need at once. Instead, create a list of projects and prioritize them. Starting with a smaller, manageable project may be a good way to experience early success.
  4. Technology implementation. If your organization is not already using and familiar with mobile technologies, AI, cloud computing and other technologies that will be important for a digital transformation, build a plan for implementing them.
  5. Partners. The most successful digital transformations involve partnering with the right vendors rather than taking the time and resources to build your own solutions. The digital transformation strategy should include plans for selecting and vetting partners.
  6. Feedback loop. Digital transformation is an ongoing commitment, and your digital transformation strategy should be regularly tweaked based on successes and failures. Include a process for evaluating the transformation experience and making changes as needed along the way.

Creating an effective digital transformation strategy can guide your organization to innovate well, ultimately helping improve operational efficiency, increasing competitiveness and driving growth.

By building the right strategy and working with the right partners, you can streamline your approach to ongoing digital transformation.

The right CMS can drive your digital transformation strategy. Contact us today to learn how we can help with your organization's digital transformation.

    About the Author
    Nancy Mann Jackson
    Nancy Jackson has been writing about business and technology since 2001. She has written for technology brands including Oracle, Planview, Codility, Brightspot, Zinnia and Brightly Software. Her work also has appeared in publications including Entrepreneur, Fortune, Forbes and She’s based in Huntsville, Alabama.

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