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Tips for planning a successful digital transformation in your company

Image credit: The Mack Institue

In the rush to compete in the digital age, a successful digital transformation is essential, but many organizations are setting themselves up for failure. There's a common misconception that the process is just about technology, but it's not. It's about your business. It shouldn't be treated as an isolated IT project; it should be driven by business needs with the committed involvement of a range of stakeholders.

The benefits are clear
Companies that have embraced digital transformation and reached digital maturity are reaping the rewards already. They are 26% more profitable than their industry competitors, according to Capgemini's report, The Digital Advantage. But increased profit is not a foregone conclusion and digital transformation is not without risk.

Digging into the potential upside, most C-level executives and IT budget holders surveyed by Fujitsu in Walking the digital tightrope, agree on four key benefits:

  • The attraction and retention of a talented workforce
  • Business responsiveness to the market
  • Customer retention and loyalty
  • Increased workforce productivity

Successful digital transformation encompasses these internal and external aspects, and they must be progressed in parallel.

A dangerous disconnect
It's interesting to note that 92% of the IT decision-makers surveyed by Fujitsu classed their organizations as somewhat or extremely mature with regards to digital maturity, and two-thirds saw themselves as digital leaders. Contrast that with the troubling revelation that 70% feel digital projects are a gamble and the admission that 65% feel their digital projects are not aligned.

This lack of alignment has to be tackled. The pressure to dive in is immense and it may be leading some businesses to task CIOs with ill-conceived and poorly supported projects that have a high chance of failure. Look before you leap. A steady approach requires more planning, with careful integration of legacy infrastructure.

It's also worth remembering that the drive to transform isn't all about the carrot, there's plenty of concern about the stick, in the shape of fears about a reduction in productivity and a decrease in revenue. One CEO remarked, "The risk of investing in incorrect technologies is lower than doing nothing and slipping behind the competition."

How do you build confidence?
Step back and look at how technology can deliver more, both internally and externally, to drive your success. Listen to your employees. Try on your customer's shoes. Think creatively about what could improve organizational efficiency and the consumer experience. Encourage creative brainstorming and welcome ideas from all quarters to build a picture of what's really important to your business, as opposed to improving technology for the sake of it. Try to get ahead of the disruption.

Secure early and committed involvement from business stakeholders, including representatives from across the lines of your business and also the support services. The CIO may act as informer of the group, but without input from finance and HR, and other departments, you won't have a complete view of what your business truly is or how technology can change it.

Finding the right mix
One potential route to ensure that the technology you adopt is going to deliver business benefits is to allow business to go direct to the market and find the service or application that meets their needs. CIOs can set frameworks to maintain security and compliance, while granting the business end more flexibility. Find the expertise you need and build partnerships to maintain a secure foundation. Something like Citrix Workspace Suite can provide secure access to business applications, enabling rapid internal change as you test out new ideas and services.

You may also want to split the IT department. Set up soft IT, tasked with trying things and finding out if they work, and failing fast when they don't. You'll also need robust IT to ensure that your existing environment continues to run properly. Rotate operational staff onto these teams and give them the opportunity to work on different projects to keep motivation levels high.

It's important to move fast, but be careful to handle this organizational challenge sensitively and make sure that you carry some of the robust operational efficiency and effectiveness over into your new projects. Work towards striking the right balance in terms of your team, combining old and new, encompassing business needs across departments, and focusing equally on internal and external requirements. Look beyond the technology, and identify what digital transformation can bring to your business.

About Karyn Jeffery
Karyn Jeffery is VP and Head of End User Services in Fujitsu's Managed Infrastructure Services Global Delivery unit. She leads the globalization of Fujitsu’s offerings in end user computing. Contact her at Karyn.Jeffery@uk.fujitsu.com.

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