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Digital Transformation

How To Advance Transformation in One Hour, One Quarter, and One Year

We asked leaders across industries about the tangible actions that power their company’s digital transformation in just one hour, one quarter, and one year. If you’re thinking critically about your people and processes, these first steps will show you the way.

illustration of five hands stacked together in a circle
Digital transformation is not a finish line. It’s an evolution of people and processes. In as little as one hour, these are the steps you can take to advance your business growth. [Petra Sitaru]

What you can do to advance transformation in an hour

Martin Mehalchin, executive vice president for retail, consumer, and loyalty practices, Concentrix

Do your homework. Go to school on a company that’s enjoyed a successful digital transformation of its own. Nike, Starbucks, and Sephora are all great case studies to explore. Scroll through your network and find someone you know at one of these companies. Schedule some time to pick their brain. Even more powerful, become a customer of these companies if you aren’t already. Use their app or other digital touchpoints to understand firsthand the experience they have built.

Tyler Prince, executive vice president for alliances and channels, Salesforce

Catch up on the conversation. For many, the phrase digital transformation can seem vague. The term is admittedly broad and encompasses many fast-moving conversations about technology, business models, and new leadership trends. Companies are using digital technologies to reinvent how work gets done, to connect people, and to innovate. It’s worth investing an hour to read the latest about the future of work, leading through change, or the economic impact of technology from sources such as the World Economic Forum and Harvard Business Review, or other reputable business publications.

Brian Solis, global innovation evangelist, Salesforce 

Decide who owns it. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, many digital transformations failed. It immediately became a phrase tied to digitization with no purpose, stated outcomes, or ROI. Let’s avoid these issues by establishing a point person for your digital transformation – whether that’s the CIO or someone else – who can own the process from the start. They should make clear to all business units not only what digital transformation entails, but also what they will get out of it. While you’re at it, also establish a responsibility matrix for cross-functional movement and ownership.

What you can do to advance transformation in one quarter

Martin Mehalchin, executive vice president for retail, consumer, and loyalty practices, Concentrix

Run an innovation pilot. Choose one of your customer journeys – one that’s overdue for digitization. Bring together a small team across functions (and maybe enlist the help of an outside agency) and challenge them to build a high-fidelity digital journey prototype in four or five sprints. Use the pilot to get a new experience into the hands of real customers to demonstrate the art of the possible to your broader organization.

Tyler Prince, executive vice president for alliances and channels, Salesforce

Automate a single business process. An easy way to think about digital transformation is through automation. Challenge yourself or your team to use collaboration and workflow tools, such as our Slack offering, to streamline or reinvent a business process that is manual or causes pain points for your team today. For example, scheduling meetings with team members in multiple time zones can be a complex exercise. If collaboration can happen asynchronously via a technology tool, it may take meetings off of calendars and email out of inboxes. This drives efficiency, increases capacity, and enables better balance for your team.

Andy Cotgreave, technical evangelist, Tableau

Identify the gaps. Oftentimes, leaders don’t know what data their organization has access to, or where it lives. Spend time establishing the true picture of data across the entire company. Don’t just ask your VPs and directors for their thoughts – ask all your colleagues. The further down your company hierarchy you go, the more honest an answer you will find. Without knowing the true picture of all your employees’ experience with data, you will not be able to measure the transformation you seek to bring.

What you can do to advance transformation in a year

Martin Mehalchin, executive vice president for retail, consumer, and loyalty practices, Concentrix

Renovate one business function. Maybe it’s making your supply chain more transparent by using the Internet of Things and blockchain to reduce friction. Or maybe it’s modernizing your data systems to support more dynamic financial planning and analysis. Pick one key function in your business and rebuild it to be digital from the ground up. Set aggressive goals, and use objectives and key results (OKRs) to drive focus and outcomes.

Tyler Prince, executive vice president for alliances and channels, Salesforce

Work with a team to create a roadmap. Shaping your digital transformation, vision, and plan requires input from customers, employees, and prospects to understand how technology can help you exceed their expectations. Ultimately, driving innovation and growth requires a powerful combination of trusted data, tools, and skills. Beyond technology, digital transformation also demands changes in human behavior, and to achieve that, you may need a fresh perspective. So, don’t go on your digital journey alone. Partner with digital agencies, systems integrators, consultants, and independent software vendors that provide strategic planning, change management support, and implementation best practices and assistance.

Brian Solis, global innovation evangelist, Salesforce 

Reimagine your relationships. What’s on the other side of transformation? My colleague Henry King and I call this relationship transformation, or RTx. It’s the articulation of a desired state for customer and employee relationships to then guide digital and operational transformation. 

  • How have the changes to your business impacted your relationships with customers?
  • How can employees better work?
  • How can we ensure their wellness?
  • Where is there room for improvement?
  • Where is there friction?
  • Where are other ways to introduce new value?

Take a look at other companies – and not just those in your industry – to see who is delivering the best experiences. Take cues from them and bring them into your world. For example, Domino’s looked beyond the fast-food space and made innovation a corporate pillar, and now nearly 70% of its customers’ purchases in the U.S. are made through digital channels.

Andy Cotgreave, technical evangelist, Tableau

Change the way you use data. Don’t bring static dashboards to meetings. Instead, explore data live in meetings, driving the conversation with data that’s dynamic. Add data-driven insights to your internal communications, and be sure to include and acknowledge the workplace uncertainties these data reveal. Ensure all employees have data fluency training, and measure the completion of that training as a core company objective. Demand that people use data to inform decisions. You must be hyper aware of the times people can’t get the data to make those decisions, and work to fill those gaps quickly when the data is missing.

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