4 of the Most Important Goals for Digital Transformation

Keith Krach
February 10, 2017

Digital transformation is a multistep process that can take years to complete. As emerging technologies continue to offer additional possibilities for business success, it is possible that some digital enterprises may even find themselves in a constant, ongoing state of transformation.

However, in order for business leaders to measure the success of their digital endeavors, they must set specific objectives against which they can measure their progress.

In addition to creating a framework to track successes and failures, setting incremental goals is one of the most effective ways for leaders to ensure that they are engaging all aspects of their organizations in the digital transformation. In this way, they can help inspire the comprehensive cultural shift that is typically necessary to build a digitally-empowered enterprise.

Creating a plan to launch a digital transformation can be a powerful resolution that inspires meaningful change in a company. However, the scope of the digital revolution is far too broad to constitute an easily-understandable, measurable goal.

The following are a few important objectives that can serve as mile markers on the path to successful digital transformation.

1. Create a roadmap for success.

The development of a comprehensive digital transformation plan should be one of the first goals tackled by bourgeoning digital enterprises. Most business leaders would be correct in assuming that new technologies offer the potential to improve current business operation and outcomes. However, these benefits cannot be attained without a clear plan for implementation.

In a digital transformation, measurable improvements do not stem from new technologies alone. Instead, they are due to the ways those technologies are applied by companies to transform existing processes to fit the digital age.

Business leaders may seek to make their processes more efficient, enhance the customer experience, or foster employee collaboration. Regardless of the stated goals, digital transformation plans should tie into broader, established business goals.

A comprehensive digital transformation roadmap can be a valuable communication tool. Such a roadmap will help employees understand why certain changes are taking place, as well as convey how to best support their implementation.

A roadmap can also assist leaders in prioritizing specific digital objectives, organizing lengthy processes into easily-digested phases, and avoiding the tendency to take on more work than teams can manage. An ideal plan for digital transformation should also establish a system of governance, identifying the individuals who will guide key digitization efforts and the processes by which they will be managed.

2. Leverage new data to inspire future improvements.

Newly-implemented digital processes will yield new data sets. When properly collected and interpreted, this data can inform future improvements to business processes.

Business leaders might consider launching an in-house “citizen data science initiative." Such an initiative will give managers the opportunity to introduce leaders from data-reliant departments such as marketing and finance to the preferred platforms and data management protocols.

This can be a great way to encourage employees throughout the organization to take an active role in digital initiatives. Also, it can give multiple departments the necessary tools to make data-based inferences that inform future strategic decisions.  

Business leaders should also take full advantage of data related to the implementation and success of specific digital projects. By compiling vital data on factors such as revenue, efficiency, and customer engagement from the results of agile process improvements, companies can learn from their successful digital initiatives while avoiding those that are ineffective.

3. Identify and integrate opportunities for automation.

Automation is one of the most wide-reaching areas of technology typically undertaken by digital transformation efforts. Digital automation may be an option for numerous business processes.

However, leaders must prioritize key areas that would best benefit from automation and develop a plan to integrate new digital processes into seamless employee and customer experiences. Data and existing best practices should inform the decision to automate processes in the areas such as speed to market, cloud migration, and application monitoring.

4. Facilitate technological innovation.

New technologies will undoubtedly be a crucial aspect of any digital transformation. Emerging technologies present countless opportunities to enhance both external and internal processes in areas ranging from new marketing analytics tools to remote collaborative work platforms.

Artificial intelligence, blockchain, the Internet of Things, and augmented reality are only a few of the tech sectors currently experiencing rapid growth. With this in mind, business leaders must establish systems to identify and research new technologies that will enhance their operations.

Protocols for implementing new technologies should include processes for integrating digital tools. They should also assess efficacy in relation to wider business goals.

Additionally, it is crucial for business leaders to create dedicated processes to help employees learn about new digital initiatives, as well as how their specific responsibilities will be impacted.

For example, the introduction of new analytics software may require sales and marketing teams to adjust their decision-making frameworks. A new mobile app might increase the relevance of SEO trends to your organization.

In order for a digital transformation to successfully bring about process enhancements, all individuals within the organization must fully understand their role in bringing about this change.

Keith Krach

Keith Krach is Chairman of DocuSign, The Global Standard for Digital Transaction Management.