Implementing a digital transformation strategy is one of the most pressing challenges for business leaders today. Embarking on your digital transformation journey fundamentally shifts the way your organization operates, and if you tackle the transformation head-on, it can pay off immensely for years to come.  

Digital transformation is so much more than simply implementing new IT and software across your organization; technology is merely the enabler of that transformation. An even bigger (and some would say more important part of this process) is the cultural shift that a company undergoes at every level — from team structures to an entirely new mindset around how to use technology to improve and streamline workflows.

Some projects can fail. This is especially common for businesses with cultures resistant to change. After all, technology is only as good as the way it’s been implemented and used. That’s why our Success Cloud teams work hard to help our customers avoid the most common pitfalls of digital transformation. Implementing new technologies and shifting mindsets can be really hard; however, these are the keys to a successful digital transformation with long-term value and impact.

We are in constant communication with our customers as they create and undergo their own digital transformation journeys. And based on these conversations, we’ve come up with three critical questions that every company must ask before embarking on a digital transformation of its own.


1. Are your customers at the center of everything you do yet?


The central reason to undergo a digital transformation is to effectively reorient the business around a holistic view of the customer: what they want, need, and expect from your company. To do this, you have to throw out the rule book from the pre-mobile days when customers had less choice (and fewer opportunities to walk away). Today’s customers demand to be engaged and served in an entirely different way than in years past. 

So what does that mean to your company — and what is it that makes your customers unique? Finally, what do your customers need from you that only your company can provide? This will help you build a plan for improving their overall experience. 

Once you know that, you’ll need to team up with different business units to begin executing on that plan. At first, that will likely be your IT team, but you’ll need to get key stakeholders and leaders from other parts of the organization on board, too — from the board of directors down to the most junior employees. Everyone has to be equally invested for a digital transformation project to successfully get off the ground. Know what the end goal is, the results it will drive — and then get that buy-in and support from the people essential to making it happen.


2. What do you need to do to get your employees to embrace large-scale change?


All leaders know that no change happens without some resistance. However, many companies are concerned that implementing a digital transformation will cause internal paralysis rather than sustained growth and success. And even if they acknowledge that short-term disruption can lead to long-term gain, the potential upheaval around a digital transformation program poses some very real concerns.

Most people don’t like change for change’s sake. Fortunately, digital transformation benefits customers as much as it benefits your own employees, and it’s important to communicate those benefits properly. If employees don’t get on board, leaders and stakeholders can quickly become an “army of one” fighting the digital transformation battle alone. They need their vision for success to trickle down and be embraced by the broader team.  

A well-implemented digital transformation program can offer endless opportunities for teams to upskill and take control of their own career paths like never before. And leaders must communicate the value of these changes as well as the positive impact they will have for both personal and professional development that will allow them to flourish.


3. How do you create a consistent vision for success?


Everyone within an organization needs to feel as though they are part of the digital transformation journey and the success it will create for the company. And vision has to be communicated consistently and clearly — in a way, it needs to become the guiding light for the entire organization so that the employees and customers understand the changes being made and why they benefit everyone.

Providing a forum for a constant flow of feedback is another great way to get the entire organization involved in the process. Further, leaders need to not only communicate in a top-down manner, but also allow ideas and changes to that vision to be discussed by the general employee population. This will better drive involvement and a feeling of shared success. Leaders also have to walk the walk as well as talking the talk — and create an understanding for everyone in the company that everyone is in it together. The success of this project will be the success that creates a better offering for everyone — customers, employees, and the entire value chain.

Leaders have a tough task juggling the various demands the digital transformation journey throws up. And quite rightly, they have concerns. But it’s important that any potential roadblocks don’t stop them from embarking or continuing on the path to digital transformation, because ultimately, it’s the route to success for companies that want to gain or maintain market influence in an age of continually shifting customer priorities.

These are just three of the questions that come up in the conversations we have with customers about digital transformation. And ensuring that companies have what they need to create success is critical to Salesforce, so we collaborated with a select group of Trailblazers at the world’s most influential companies to create the “North Star Report”. This research offers companies actionable insights and the strategies they need to achieve digital transformation success now.

Want to read more insights and help create your own journey to success? Be sure to download the “North Star Report” today.