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Digitization is non-negotiable for organizations, and the benefits for those getting it right are clear. Companies considered ahead of their peers with digitization initiatives report 40% improved operational efficiency, 36% faster time to market, and 35% improved customer experience. Yet most companies face a series of challenges throughout this transformation process, from strategy to technical difficulties and everything in-between. On the whole, businesses that follow these five rules have the best chance at overcoming the barriers of today’s digital-first mandate...

Rule #1: Clear your desk and focus on creating your overall digitization strategy. If you don’t, who will?

Creating an overall digitization strategy requires a lot of mental legwork: thinking of new business models, entry into new markets, monetization of different assets, and more. Successful leaders spend a good amount of their workday examining trends outside the company to understand what’s happening in the market and collaborating with business and IT leaders across the organization to find new pools of value. Executives may face creative roadblocks or simply not have enough time to allocate to this groundwork. It’s okay if you don’t – there’s a solution to this common challenge!

Rule #2: Don’t deceive yourself that there is an easy fix to today’s skills shortage – aggressively train and hire.

While low-code/no-code platforms have grown in popularity, allowing non-tech users to configure and customize digital solutions, a certain level of expertise is needed for succeeding with digital technologies like AI and automation long-term. On this front companies are struggling. In one study from 2019, 93% of U.S. and UK organizations cited AI as a main priority yet 51% admitted they are hindered by a lack of in-house AI talent. It can be argued these numbers have only increased since the pandemic. Not everyone will make it in today’s digital world. Organizations with the right talent will excel. 

Rule #3: Data issues account for most digitization failures. Start with building your foundation, then your data lakehouse.

About one-third of companies struggle with customer insights due to a lack of quality, usable customer data. For most businesses, the challenge lies in building a foundation. Absent a sound data architecture, you’ll be building with sand. With the right foundation, it’s estimated companies can outperform their peers by 85% in sales growth while innovating with new products and services. McDonald’s is a master at this. The brand leverages listening and benchmarking to gain deep insight into customer behaviors across different platforms and devices and compares performance across all digital teams to avoid the risk of silos. Driven by these insights, the company has rolled out digital solutions like AI drive-thrus and smart mobile app experiences to enhance the digital customer journey.

Rule #4: Lead by example and be a champion yourself. If it’s not worth your time, it’s not worth your employees’ time.  

A 2020 study by Boston Consulting Group found that 70% of digital transformation projects fall short even when leadership is aligned. One of the primary reasons for this is lack of employee adoption. Some workers may be confused by new tech while others are outright resistant to it. Consider a company that has adopted a new digital collaboration solution that’s meant to replace the disparate tools teams use for video, chat, file sharing, and project management. If teams aren’t onboard with this move for whatever reason, they may begin using their own unsanctioned collaboration tools that create more friction across the company and introduce new vulnerabilities through shadow IT.

Rule #5: It’s not about splurging on a technology smorgasbord. It’s about well-thought-out financial analysis.

With today’s digital imperative being so strong and the introduction of new flexible, cost-efficient pricing models by tech vendors, budget seems to be less of a barrier to digital transformation as it once was. Still, costs are important to consider. Certainly not every organization has the budget for major digitization. Focus on low hanging fruit and high return items, then go for them. For instance, in the example above about an all-in-one collaboration solution, the company would easily save costs by eliminating licenses for redundant collaboration apps – saving costs and freeing up budget for new digitization initiatives.

For all of these reasons, digital transformation consulting is key.

An end-to-end digital transformation consultancy can help formulate a company’s overall digitization strategy from the ground up by conducting initial discovery workshops, identifying compelling business use cases, and implementation plans. If you can’t fill talent gaps through hiring, a partner with expertise in digital technologies like AI and automation will work to architect solutions that can be managed entirely by them or jointly by them and you. This includes initial planning, designing, building your AI solution(s), and running and optimizing them for continuous improvement. This partner will also have expertise in analytics and data engineering, ensuring you can harness the power of quality customer data. They can even train and coach your employees on digital solutions for faster adoption. All of this is done with a chief goal of moving with speed and urgency while optimizing budget and saving costs whenever possible.

Learn more about Servion’s DX consulting services.

About the Author

Laurent Philonenko

Laurent is the Group CEO of Servion and its group companies. With 30+ years of experience, he served in leadership roles across Avaya, Cisco and Genesys. Laurent finds his zen moments by running and biking. His passion for the culinary arts also keeps him enthused in the kitchen.