Leading a successful digital transformation

The advantages of digital transformation are huge, but organizations need a clear vision and strong top-level support to derive its true value

By KP Sunny , Additional General Manager, Federal Bank

Digital transformation is being discussed widely these days, but only a few have a clarity on what it means. Even within an organization, the term means different things to different people—marketing, IT, HR, and operations will have their distinct views. Before an organization gets set for a digital transformation, it is important to have a clear and uniform definition acceptable to all.
DIGITAL VISION
A clear vision on the part of the leaders and the organization in general precedes any digital transformation initiative.The success or failure is in proportion to the earnestness with which the executive leadership drives the transformation. The idea is to make it a part of the  organizational DNA. Digital practices followed by the peers and learnings  from other industries can bespeak the opportunities that digital can bring in. A closer look inward can help to pinpoint the bottlenecks that choke efficiency and bring down the customer experience. These can form the building blocks in architecting a digital vision for the organization.
Digital transformation calls for both digital and leadership capabilities. It is essentially a business transformation facilitated by digital technology which can impact all the functional areas of an organization. Most importantly, people form the key factor in this transformation, not technology.
Better customer experience is at the heart of the digital  transformation. However, it does not mean reinventing the wheel. Rather it is complementing the existing processes to bring in efficiency and better customer experience.
BUILDING BLOCKS
It is the duty of the top team to articulate a digital vision clearly so that it is shared and accepted at all levels within the organization. Driving digital transformation is a two-way process, top-down and also bottom-up.
One of the tools, widely being used to ensure employee engagement is the company-wide social network, which helps employees to share, connect, and engage with one another.
Digital transformation becomes easier and acceptable organization-wide when the necessary skills for transformation are acquired. It will be ideal if the institution can build internal talent but can augment inhouse talent pool with external help to cross-pollinate.
Digital transformation can best be led from the front with the top leadership setting examples in making use of the technology and social media. Radical changes like digital transformation require total employee support. New roles like ‘Digital Champions’ established
exclusively for driving such changes can aid in skill transfer and in engaging the rest of the organization.
Crowdsourcing ideas for transformation through contests can ensure employee engagement. Gamification is another concept being used to ensure buy-in of technological initiatives.
Finally, the proof of the pudding is in the results and not in the sophistication of the tools employed. Success should be measured by the actual user adoption of the digital technology and not by the availability of the technology.
ROAD BLOCKS
Governments, cities, and local authorities are vying with each other for digitization. Economies are getting ready for digital transformation and significant changes are happening in the way we work, collaborate, and communicate. This causes unprecedented challenges for CEOs.
Digital technologies have brought down the entry barrier for new entrants and start-ups paving the way for ‘digital leakage’. Hence, leaders have to continuously strive to maintain efficiency and better customer experience.
Success lies in finding novel ways of employee engagement. The buy-in will be poor if the field and operational level employees did not understand the digital technology and the benefits they are going to bring in.
Organizations with employees of different age groups will have different skill sets and learning curves. Communication going to these groups need to be crafted carefully, considering this basic difference.
Also, wider adoption of internal social media may call for more transparency than anticipated by the middle level management, and organizations need to be prepared for this. Only organizations with a clear vision, right investment, and dedicated teams will be able to overcome these hurdles to bring in the digital transformation and the resultant benefits.
NEW OPPORTUNITIES
Digitization offers new opportunities to extend the reach of organizations, improve management decisions, and speed the development of new products and services.
It is changing the traditional business models and the proven customer engagement procedures. In fact, the day is not far when digital transformation may be seen as a dire necessity to stay in the business

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