In order to make your digital transformation efforts successful, it’s important to remember that it is 95% about people and 5% about technology. Its essence is the people executing it. Digital transformation is, however, rooted in technology that has seen its evolution accelerated over this year. It continues to evolve every day. 

New roles, new mindsets, new processes, new tools; generations were born with the technology, while others are finding their way through it. Digital transformation thrives in a culture that supports it, and that may entail fostering a cultural change inside your organization. This cultural transformation happens with changes in the following areas:

1. Breaking silos

Before: Business has a need, puts a request to technology and technology implements. Interactions are limited. Working relationships are more ‘’hand-offs’’ than collaboration.

For the transformation: Teams need to collaborate. All areas of the organization need to work together and align. Marketing, Technology, Operations, and others must be equal partners in decision making and inputs. 

All stakeholders must agree on the goals and work towards a larger goal. Each department cannot pursue its department goals only, as it may conflict with the overall objectives of the organization. New processes or technologies need to address the pain points of all. For example, if a new technology is to be implemented, it needs to help the operations team, or there will be no adoption, and the project will be unsuccessful. People need to learn to work together, to leave their egos at the door, and to keep the same goal in mind. 

2. Holistic view

Before: Each department, even teams used to have their own agenda and goals. What other departments were doing was not taken into consideration. If the Business Unit needs a project to happen in order to improve processes, the project is considered part of the BU. Another BU might implement a similar project, addressing their specific processes.

For the transformation: The transformation needs to cover all areas. To be successful, it is not possible to look at things from a limited window. Because there is a need for alignment, consolidation, and streamlining, there is a need for looking at the larger picture. Failing to do so can create even more confusion or result in the project becoming just another on the roadmap, creating duplicates and doomed to failure. 

Lacking a holistic approach, the project will be a loss of money and resources. It will generate a bad customer experience. Teams and leaders need to learn to look at things more broadly and no longer work for a simple project in a vacuum.

3. Agility

Before: Teams often needed to get approvals from multiple layers. The project requirements are defined at the beginning and then implemented.

For the transformation: Cultural change means nimble, empowered teams. Less hierarchy, leaner teams, and faster decision-making. Agile methodology, incremental project implementations, and frequent checks are the new norm. We often use the notion of ‘’test and learn’’. Projects are quickly tested, implemented by pieces, measured, and adjusted frequently until they reach full deployment. 

4. Customer-centric

Before: Customers might be consulted, but not as consistently. Many decisions are made by teams with their level of expertise and what they experienced during their tenure. These same people can be unintentionally biased and often misled by believing that their experience or what they think is right is what is actually needed by the customer. They come from the philosophy that customers do not know what they really need/want.

For the transformation: Customers are at the heart of why things are done. The project needs to improve the customer experience, and customers’ feedback needs to be assessed through the project. Customer journeys, experiences answering personas, and users’ testings are necessary to make sure the customers’ needs are answered. 

5. Leadership

Before: Leaders are managers. They control the work along the whole journey. They are the ones adjusting the directions. Teams not being as integrated, it appears that communication is not always flowing correctly, and individuals perceive that directions are constantly changing. This makes it difficult to identify champions and to keep people motivated and focused. The level of stress within the team is also higher.

For the transformation: A leader’s role is to make sure there is constant alignment between the teams and that everyone is working towards the same goal. Consistency, transparency, and repetition of the goals are major. In large transformations, staying consistent in the message plays a large role in the success. Teams cannot swing from one direction to another. Changes, if they need to be made, should be incremental and part of the process, but the direction needs to remain stable. 

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