There was a time when companies could afford to sit back and watch competitors take risks in adapting their business to developing technologies. Sometimes those competitors would be successful and gain a strong advantage. But just as often they would fail and leave a step by step guide of what not to do for their competitors.
Those times are gone. Businesses can no longer afford a wait and see approach. Technological developments are emerging at such a high rate and offering such strong competitive advantages that any delay could be fatal to a business.
This is why the concept of digital transformation has become such a critical element of business success. The opportunities offered by technologies such as the cloud and software as a service apply to almost every area of business.
Very often businesses conflate the notion of digital transformation with that of technological investment. The two concepts are quite different. In fact technological investment has the potential to inhibit digital transformation if mishandled.
A key element of digital transformation is that the very business model a company operates under changes to adapt to the technological environment the business is in. Where technology provides opportunities to more effectively engage with the customer, the business model should be transformed to integrate those opportunities.
One of the challenges that businesses face in implementing digital transformation is in perceiving it as a technology solution rather than a business solution. As a result the transformation process is often put in the hands of a small team of digital specialists without proper cross functional engagement.
Even where there is cross functional engagement the input of those outside of the digital core is often taken as advice rather than forming the lead on how the digital transformation should be implemented. Even input from IT can end up disregarded in this way.
Digital Transformation has the potential to touch every aspect of a company. The personnel that actually work in those areas, who interact with customers, manage staff, implement technologies and develop brands all need to inform these decisions.
At the same time those personnel need to have an adequate understanding of the possibilities these new technologies offer and the processes by which they will be developed and implemented.
Digital upskilling of key staff, whether through internal or external programs, becomes a vital element of a successful digital transformation. When personnel have a clear understanding of the processes involved, that transformation is more accurately aligned with the capabilities and goals of the company and the company is better positioned to sustain itself through successive transformations.
This infographic by Brian Solis, Author at What's the Future of Business, outlines the challenges and benefits of digital transformation.