Mastering Digital Transformation: Practical Strategies and Overcoming Challenges

Jan 30, 2024 11:35:26 AM

The term “digital transformation” has been with us for decades and still does a lot of heavy lifting while simultaneously being defined in nebulous ways. That’s because aspects like cloud, AI/ML, DevOps, data management, Digital Employee Experience (DEX), and many other technology approaches have their own tracks while being inextricably bound.  

Organizations often lose their ability to successfully navigate digital transformation because they don’t focus on specific business outcomes. But the overused term ‘people, processes, and technology’ can be a fundamental guide to navigating successful digital transformation when applied through the lens of provable business outcomes.  

An outcome lens helps businesses focus on integrating specific trends into a tailored strategy to overcome transformation challenges. This blog looks at the universal trends of Hyperautomation and composability’s broader impact across all organizations to drive digital transformation. They collectively embody technologies and approaches capable of delivering agility, flexibility, and resiliency. These attributes are key to successful navigation through socioeconomic, market, or business shifts. 

Projections show worldwide expenditure on digital transformation will reach $3.4 trillion by 2026, according to Statista. The growth represents a highly varied landscape of trends, approaches, and technologies. While impressive, this blog’s goal is to bring things down to a business-level scale, which requires looking at how these digital transformation trends affect every business. 

Digital transformation trends in the current business environment 

Many trends coming down the river of digital transformation will either change or dissipate as they move forward, which makes navigation so challenging. Hyperautomation, AI-driven decision making and composability are all trends with staying power and agility to meet transformation needs of most organizations.  

Hyperautomation is the broad convergence of RPA, AI, machine learning (ML), and low code for handling repeatable to complex business processes. Composability refers to a design method for easily swappable and interchangeable system components. Organizations use them to focus on business-driven decision making/outcomes and efficient workflows.  

When applied to the right digital transformation strategy, they transform and empower every person and workflow in an organization to maximize operational efficiency, product development/delivery, innovation, and customer experience (CX). The application of these trends are accelerating, based on Gartner predictions, which state:  

  • Generative AI will account for 10% of all data produced by 2025 
  • Organizations using composable application structures will outpace competition by 80% 
  • 80% of low code tool users will be outside formal IT departments by 2026 
  • The hyperautomation software market will reach $1.04 trillion by 2026 

This shows how many businesses are realizing a future-proof approach to market and business demands with:  

  • Application development/DevOps 
  • Low code  
  • Employee upskilling 
  • Digital Employee Experience (DEX) 
  • Human-centric AI/ML 
  • RPA  

Earlier blog posts have focused on citizen developers, real low code possibilities, and AI/ML for self-healing systems. But these are just surface benefits of a business outcome-driven transformation strategy. 

Strategies for Successful Digital Transformation 

The most successful digital transformations are born of strategies focused on user-centric change. Achieving this requires introducing technologies and a strategy focused on digital transformation of: 

  • Business processes and workflows 
  • Employee efficiency through DEX  
  • Total Experience (TX)—which combines CX, DEX and Multi Experience (MX)—for customers 
  • New product/application development and innovation 
  • Business culture change management 

A user-centric approach to change has many benefits if the business develops and implements a digital transformation strategy using a strategy roadmap (or chart, to stick with the river metaphor). The business can then successfully navigate the transformation to greater competitiveness and efficiency.  

Defining Vision & Current State Assessment for Transformation Framework Creation 

Adopting new technologies is only a piece of a much larger puzzle requiring integration into the business strategy to drive meaningful change. It begins with a clear vision to align technological advancements with business goals and outcomes. The process involves assessing the current state of your technology and operations, identifying gaps, and developing a comprehensive plan to address these challenges. 

A pivotal step in the journey is the creation of a digital transformation framework incorporating digital technology across various facets of the business. The goal is to create a holistic, watertight, organization-wide approach to achieving connected efficiencies, workflows, and continuous innovation and improvement. By making the digital transformation strategy the framework’s ballast, the organization can more easily define: 

  • Vision 
  • Strategic goals 
  • A roadmap for execution  

This strategy is vital for aligning technological advancements with broader business objectives and answering the ‘why, how, and when’ of digital transformation. 

Defining Technologies, Implementation, and Business Culture Changes 

While investing in the right technologies is essential, organizations must make choices aligning with their digital transformation business outcome objectives. Digital transformation is an iterative process requiring continuous assessment and adaptation. Consequently, organizations must regularly revisit their strategy based on performance metrics and feedback to make sure it continuously helps the business navigate the changing river of business.  

Business culture and behavioral change are the rudder that guides transformation when businesses must balance new technology and processes with greater collaboration and employee input. The strategy must incorporate new mechanisms for employee input on what, where, and how the organization will adopt digitization.  

These are important foundational elements to citizen developers, RPA, generative AI, composability and the overall hyperautomation approach. The goal is to create a future-proof digital transformation strategy and roadmap that: 

  • Fosters a culture of collaboration and innovation through CoE development support 
  • Continuously improves business processes and workflows 
  • Measures success and continuous improvement through KPIs and analysis 

There are certainly challenges to achieving success and future-proof results from digital transformation strategies, which must be understood to overcome them. 

Understanding and Overcoming Digital Transformation Challenges 

Many of the same benefits of digital transformation are also its biggest challenges, which is what makes it difficult. Just some challenges to digital transformation success include: 

Resistance to change:  

Resistance to change is common when employees and stakeholders are accustomed to current processes and systems. This is where digital transformation leaders like CIOs, CTOs, CXOs and other stakeholders must develop and implement the roadmap, which includes: 

  • Communicating the reasons for the change 
  • Explaining expected benefits to employees 
  • Creating clear avenues and outreach for input while simultaneously addressing employee concerns  
  • A plan for upskilling and bringing in digital strategy experts for training and consultation to help overcoming challenges 

Resistance from legacy systems and processes:  

The transition from legacy systems to modern digital solutions and workflows is always a challenge from the change resistance and technology expertise perspective. Overcoming this change resistance requires organizations to manage cultural change and adapt to new ways of working to smooth transitions to new tools, methods, and workflow adoption.  

Communication and collaboration silos 

It’s critical to create a digital workplace to facilitate communication and collaboration that overcomes inherent silos and change resistance in the average business. Teams must have the tools to manage workload and projects efficiently and effectively. The ideal approach is through combined project, content management, chat, and data analytics software to maximize communication, productivity, and results. 

Technology choices 

Organizations must understand legacy systems to search for new technology based on vision and business outcomes. Assessment and understanding of the current processes, workflows, and technologies are the foundation of technology decisions.  But it’s difficult for any company to see the forest for the trees, so partnering with third-party consulting can: 

  • Narrow choices 
  • Provide critical insights that businesses cannot identify internally 
  • Evaluate technology options to consider: 
    • Usability 
    • Scalability 
    • Integration 
    • Flexibility 
    • Adaptability 
    • Cost 

Cybersecurity and data management challenges 

Streamlining systems, workflows, and processes with new technology always affect data and sophisticated cyber-attack vulnerability. A comprehensive security strategy must include: 

  • Risk assessment 
  • Policy implementation 
  • Employee training 
  • Continuous monitoring 

These aspects are crucial to establishishing a roadmap where data process delivery is always secure, accurate, and regulation compliant. 

Meeting changing customer needs 

Adapting to changing customer needs and demands is an ongoing challenge, so digital transformation strategies must focus on customer-centric approaches (where they apply). This means using data analytics and AI to understand and respond to customer behavior dynamically via relevant technology investment and integration. 

The necessity of digital transformation requires learning from skilled support and services partners, past success case studies, and development of a clear vision focused on business outcomes. The understanding of where you are, where you want to go, and the customized way to get there is best done incrementally, but always with an eye to a holistically connected business. 

Past Examples and Future Predictions for Digital Transformation  

Solugenix is no stranger to pioneering digital transformation for many Fortune 500 companies over the decades. That experience positions us to understand digital transformation as an ongoing process, with many of the best examples of successes becoming apparent over time. 

While you can read some of the Solugenix stories here, along with RPA case studies and other sectors here and here, the most high profile digital transformations I have observed from the outside have included companies like Walmart, Sephora, H&M, Nike and many others. The two most notable aspects of each example are their commitment to taking the necessary time and planning while continuing to adapt to meet new challenges and market changes. 

The clearest prediction for the future of digital transformation is that organizations will succeed by seeking a harmonic balance between:  

  • Agility 
  • Flexibility 
  • Cultural change 
  • Investment 
  • Value 
  • Resilience 
  • Total Experience 

The hyper-automated future is about aligning every tech dollar spent with clear business outcomes aimed at end-to-end modernization. These successes won’t happen overnight, but navigating digital transformation with the right chart will lead to successful business journeys today and tomorrow. 

If you're inspired by the potential of digital transformation, I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn.

For a more comprehensive dialogue, feel free to get in touch with me here. Whether it's inquiries, deeper dives, or collaborative ideas, I'm eager to engage. Let's pioneer the next wave of technological innovation and reliability together. Looking forward to our connection!