Digital transformation became a trend in business communications only about two years ago, and yet many businesses are finding themselves stuck on how to keep up with the latest technology and stay competitive.
It's no wonder why there is a lot frustration—"digital transformation” is a vague phrase that's open to countless interpretations. For example, transformation initiatives could look like:
Moving to digital product management
Implementing an agile project methodology
Moving to the public cloud
Setting up a common data strategy
Revamping your customer experience journey
All of these initiatives are challenging in their own right, and they all fall under the same umbrella of digital transformation. That’s why people get “subsumed by the complexity” and lose sight of their destination. Gartner expert, Mary Mesaglio, calls this condition “transformation fatigue”—the biggest hurdle for many businesses and enterprises right now.
Three techniques for successful transformation
On the Gartner ThinkCast podcast, Mesaglio outlined three main techniques that business leaders should follow.
1. Document a clear goal and message
“You don’t want a bunch of corporate speech,” Mesaglio cautions. Many businesses use technical jargon to explain to themselves and others what future they expect for their organisation. Phrases such as "a digital-first organisation" and "delivering agile customer-centric innovations" may have an underlying truth to them, but they lack the specificity and guidance that employees need to implement changes successfully. When staff members aren't inspired by your message, they won't see themselves with a future in your organisation. Businesses should first clarify what they want to be, and then use everyday language to communicate their vision clearly and succinctly to employees, business partners, and customers.
2. Specify measurable principles
Your principles help end-users decide whether to choose you. Your principles should reflect your operational guidelines—including details of how you respond in tough situations, your priorities, and your reasoning behind business decisions. For instance, many businesses claim that "delighting customers" is one of their core principles. Although they use this phrase to demonstrate high value, "delight" could refer to many things—
Adding new functionality to the user's interface and experience
Increasing delivery speeds
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. "Delight" doesn't actually say much about how a business plans to improve their customer experience to a potential lead.
Your core values shouldn't just be catchy marketing slogans. Instead, consider more specific descriptions of what you want to achieve and how you'll do so. For example, "in a market that already has multiple high-quality products, we want to be the easiest to use on a daily basis." That statement has a clearly defined goal and indicates to the customer why they should choose you over another.
Some businesses take this approach a bit too far. Consider this: "In a market where that already has multiple high-quality products, we want to be the easiest to use, the most affordable, completely sustainable, and the most secure."
That is a classic example of a business trying to add value, but over-explaining their principles and overwhelming users. Prioritise your principles so that you communicate your value effectively.
3. Hack the culture
Many businesses get excited about transformation and make elaborate plans on paper. However, those changes remain stuck in slide shows and meeting rooms. It's important to know how you'll convert those ideas into tangible actions.
One way to do this is to "hack" into your current processes and systems to implement changes in real-time. For instance, if your goal is to transform all spreadsheet-based information into an online CRM, start by introducing that change in your meetings. Set up training methods and make that an active part of your agenda. If you want to improve customer experience, change the layout of your office so that employees can come together more easily and brainstorm ideas. Whatever your goal, make it the central point of your organisation's everyday activities.
The key to a successful transformation is understanding what you mean by "transformation." Every business has their own journey. Define what changes your business is going through and communicate that to your employees clearly. Once you've established where you're going, you can easily define measurable goals and implement small everyday hacks to upgrade your business operations.