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In my most recent article, I covered the “why” and “who” behind digital transformation – why it’s something businesses across most industries need to be thinking about, and who enterprises can partner with for success. Today’s technology challenges are complex, and they require a new way of thinking. Companies are desperately trying to navigate a tired industry as they search for a new breed of IT service providers: those that are nimble enough to quickly alleviate their challenges, agile enough to deliver a timely solution and mature enough to scale as needed.

In this article, I’d like to explore how companies can successfully develop their road map and actually deliver on their digital efforts. In my discussions with enterprise leaders, I am astounded at how many proof of concept (POC) technology initiatives have been left on the shelf, never to be executed. An IBM/Forrester study estimates that 84% of digital transformation efforts fail. What does this tell us about what not to do?

Digital transformation is not about hopping on the bandwagon or jumping on the cool, shiny, new toy. This is what we saw in the early days of cryptocurrency, or when companies race to implement AI or voice technologies without first addressing how they fit into their business strategy. It’s not about slapping emerging technology onto existing operations. That’s a recipe for disaster and a road too often traveled.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s a way to think about and execute your road map so that you’ll reach the right destination.

First, the most important consideration for any company embarking on a digital transformation is to focus on the business strategy and the desired outcomes driving the company’s digital efforts. The “big idea” needs to be connected with a practical road map for implementation. Digital transformations are successful when you take a bottom-up, integrated and holistic view of your business. Your route not only has to be integrated with the long-term goals of your business strategy, but it also needs to show how your company can compete and dominate your space. It requires you to take a hard look at existing systems in order to implement a user-centric design and evolve with the emerging technologies that can help in the short term.

In other words, it’s not a one-off exercise. Companies have to look beyond “the tech flavor of the day” and ensure that the big idea aligns with their strategy and can realistically be delivered with the correct resources.

When done correctly, digital transformation typically increases customer growth, helps you gain a competitive advantage and improves your organization’s bottom line. To achieve success, here are the key steps that you must consider as you strategize:

1. What’s the ‘big idea’ in your business strategy?

You need to be able to envision the future state and get creative about how you are going to compete moving forward, whether you’re focused on employee efficiency and empowerment or the ability to deliver innovative products. Your digital strategy needs to be closely tied to your overall business strategy.

2. How can you unify and strengthen your core operations?

Next, assess your existing core business processes and applications. For a professional services company, it might be audit applications; in healthcare, it might be a hospital management system. You can’t digitally transform an organization without a solid foundation. Your digital road map must start with a plan to bolster your existing processes before you can move forward.

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