In a world where chaotic “X factors” such as virus outbreaks  and abrupt market volatility  can shake the foundations of any business sector, intelligent companies realize a robust future relies heavily on a strong digital-transformation strategy.
Around 70 percent  of companies surveyed claimed to have a digital transformation strategy in place or to be preparing one. From fintech to healthcare to retail, forward-thinking firms are creating agile, anti-fragile  plans to face the next major business disruption. Last year, 40 percent of all technology spending  shifted towards digital transformation.
Matthew Abdy, Ciklum’s Vice President of Sale for UK, Benelux, Spain, recently sat down with CTO Practitioner Mark Ridley to discuss a checklist to build a next-level digital strategy.
Focus on value and mission
Ridley advises companies to harmonize digital transformation – the adoption of new technologies – with the overall values and mission of the company.
“The first thing that I would look for is, not what is the digital strategy, but what is the strategy for the business,” he said. “Often I work with businesses and that’s my starting point – not to ask about the technology but to ask about what the company strategy is.”
Team up to identify roadblocks
Another review notes that only 7 percent of surveyed companies  have fully implemented their digital transformations. The best-laid plans…indeed.
“Is it a legacy organization that’s dealing with inefficient processes or … dealing with disruptive players coming into the market with new customer approaches?”
Roadblocks, once identified, can lead your team to unveil the right-sized technologies which, in turn, bring focus to building the appropriate team.
“As always, where every company that I’ve worked with is time-poor, there are always competing priorities and so the big blocker is always going to be ‘Can I prioritize well?’” Ridley said.
“I think the marker of an excellent organization is prioritization, which will flow down into your technology roadmap and your digital transformation roadmap.”
Build a robust and flexible strategy
Often, digital transformation can alter a company’s very core suppositions.
A robust strategy that opens the door to evolution over time empowers a company to discover the right resources, invest in the right programs, and create space to “breath” and successfully deliver the best solutions. Many companies are leveraging just such a strategy:
“No strategy will ever be perfect, it will never survive contact with the enemy,” Ridley said.
“Making a strategy is the beginning of a process of continuing to iterate on a strategy – it’s more important that a company becomes good at forecasting, changing their strategy and running the strategy process … there is a big vision that they want to head to, but at any point, something might change their direction”
That means companies that best react to change are the companies more likely to launch a successful digital transformation.
Be quick and agile
Many companies “talk the talk” when it comes to promoting digital transformation, but fewer are ready to “walk the walk.”
“What you need to do is be quick and agile adopting change,” Ridley notes. He highlighted gargantuan companies like Amazon AWS and Microsoft Such companies are perceived as perhaps “too big” but have nevertheless created, launched and sustained revolutionary tools that have kept their product offerings relevant. Both have invested heavily in cloud solutions that create fresh market opportunities.
“What Microsoft and Amazon have done is democratise that technology so it’s available to more people with smaller budgets and so innovation can fundamentally change,” Ridley said, adding that the opportunity to launch agile solutions have prompted smaller companies to “nip at the heels of the Google’s, Microsoft’s and Amazon’s of the world … developing go-to-market strategies around very specific things.”
“What we’re actually seeing is the growth of other services. There are interesting services coming out of China; so, it’s not just a U.S.-driven innovation model now. There are other places that we can look to for innovation but also smaller services; so, you may see niche cloud providers.”
Identify what’s valuable
It’s one thing to claim digital transformation is of real value. It’s another to truly invest. Fortunately, 52 percent of marketers  say “driving growth through digital transformation” is their top strategic focus.
For Ridley, “it’s all about value, it all has to come back down to value.”
He poses some important questions a company may ask in determining the value proposition:
“Am I going to be able to increase profitability? Am I going to be able to increase revenue and deliver a better product for a customer? Will this technology somehow make me able to serve my customers better?”
“Will technology help me make the business more efficient? Can I make cost savings from the technology that I’m going to adopt?”
Ridley further advises companies to consider future innovations in evaluating values: “robotic process automation, the adoption of new models of taking things out of silos and moving them into far more natively automated systems.”
Find your Evangelist
In every company, “there is somebody who is really good at explaining why that technology is powerful,” Ridley said.
An evangelist is a key linchpin around which transformation strategies rise or fall.
“What [successful companies] have is a technology leader who is very good at translating into a language that the rest of the executive team can understand,” Ridley said.
“You have to take the CFO, the chief commercial officer, the HR team, the people team and the CEO on a journey that describes the value of technology. It’s not being driven from the executive team down into technology, it’s being driven with technology as a motivator of the organisation.”
Keep the Customer first
Almost half  say improving customer experience and customer satisfaction were the leading influences to start a digital transformation.
Ridley notes that a customer-facing set of priorities is just as important in 2020 as it was 10 years ago – maybe more so.
“It would be unusual now not to walk into a business that didn’t have any customer engagement team or a customer fulfilment team and to actually drive some level of customer desirability right from inside the business.”
Looking back 10-15 years ago, Ridley notes that IT pros were more focused on operational efficiency rather than customer experience. “Now we might actually see our internal staff as consumers and customers in the same way that we do with an external customer.”
And the transformation to customer experience over efficiency is a success story:
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