Taking your first strokes in Digital…

You are swimming for the first time, fighting to stay afloat.   Panic takes over.  You navigate towards the unknown, to safety and land.  In this moment, you have a choice – will you sink or will you swim?  Companies are faced with a similar choice when it comes to Digital Transformation.  In today’s world of rapid technological innovation and customer expectations to keep pace with, staying competitive is a sink or swim moment for many senior leaders.   

Organizations’ interest in digital is more pervasive today than it has ever been, and our collaboration with the MIT Center for Digital Business found during a survey of executives and managers that 78% of respondents view Digital Transformation as critical to their company.  However, despite this interest, there is a fear of sinking when approaching Digital; leaders often feel encumbered and daunted.  In the same survey, only 38% of respondents stated that digital is a key objective on their CEO’s agenda, which prevents many executives from progressing, exploring and diving into digital opportunities.  So, with this huge potential for opportunity, how have successful companies started their digital journeys?

How do I begin?

A successful digital journey always begins with a diagnosis of current digital maturity and a clear understanding of one’s strategic aspirations. 

Our research indicates that companies can be categorized into four levels of digital maturity.[1]  Beginners are companies who have just started their digital journey and have made few digital investments.  More advanced are the Fashionistas, who explore digital technologies but have not focused on a clear digital strategy and the Conservatives, who understand the need for an integrated digital vision but are cautious to adopt digital technology.  Finally, Digirati represent the true digital innovators and leaders.  They have integrated digital as part of their strategic business vision with strong support by management, governance and the creation of a digital organizational culture.


We used these digital maturity levels to help a global investment management firm assess its digital maturity.  The client prided itself in exceptional client service through high-touch, personal experiences but relied heavily on manual, costly and low-value client interactions.  It was struggling to complete with peers who had incorporated digital engagement strategies into their business models.  Our assessment identified that this client was a Digital Beginner.  Using this baseline, we established a path forward that that would enable the company to prioritize critical digital investments, embrace a digital culture and improve its high service levels while expanding to better target increasingly digital savvy and younger customers.

Similarly, determining where your company resides today involves an assessment of your current digital state.  This can be completed through:
·         Assessment of current digital maturity:  Our Digital Maturity Assessment Tool can help you diagnose your company’s digital maturity as well as use benchmarks developed through our research collaboration with MIT to rank your company’s digital maturity against industry peers  
·         Analysis of your existing digital initiatives and skills: Scan internally to determine what levels of digital knowledge, technology and talent  currently exist in the organization and whether you can harness this talent and enthusiasm to jumpstart your digital journey
·         External review of other competitors’ and industries’ digital strategies: Look externally to peers and across industries to study what others have done and determine how you can incorporate or bring these digital initiatives into your organization
Once you have established your digital current state maturity, you will be able to define the digital gaps between where you are today and what you desire to build for the future. 


What Should I Do Next?

When performing a digital current state assessment, consider the following:
1.       Connect the dots with business objectives and vision: A properly developed digital strategy will align with and enable a company to accelerate and achieve its organizational goals.  An understanding of these strategic imperatives will help prioritize the specific areas of focus for the digital current state assessment and the opportunity categories.  Examples of digital opportunities are centered around the digitization of: customer experience, operational process and business model.
2.       Assemble your team: Digital Transformation challenges current operating models and requires the participation of cross-functional players from across the entire organization.  Input from stakeholders in the C-Suite IT, marketing, infrastructure / data etc. all must be consulted to prioritize business with digital objectives.  The collaboration among these groups will be imperative to execute digital success.  
3.       Identify your movers and shakers: Digital Transformation means permeating change across the organization in the way things are done.  Buy-in and support will be required to achieve digital success, so the earlier the socialization of digital, the earlier the chance for success and long-term change sustainability.  Early change management and communications around Digital Transformation can be extremely effective in establishing a momentum and culture for change.
4.       Flexibility can lead to big wins: The road to digital can be a long one, but establishing the path forward is critical to getting on the right path. Small, iterative tests rather than a big-bang investment will be required for digital success.  Focus on identifying quick wins that can be realized early on to demonstrate success and build foundation for the larger investment initiatives.
The courage to take the plunge into Digital Transformation combined with the right strokes will prepare you for a world awash with digital.
For additional inspiration and to learn how other companies have successfully rode the digital wave, be sure to read our upcoming “Leading Digital” book, published in collaboration with MIT following 3 years of extensive digital research.  More information is available at http://www.leadingdigitalbook.com/ .

[1] The Digital Advantage: How digital leaders outperform their peers in every industry.” Capgemini Consulting, 2013