IBM Systems Lab Services

Developing an effective digital transformation strategy

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Digital technologies like mobile, social, analytics and cloud have redefined how we do business, revolutionizing client-business relationships and providing new ways to deliver and consume information. According to a survey by Forrester, executives expect 47 percent of total sales to be influenced by digital by 2020, but only 26 percent believe their CEO has a clear vision for digital. And now cognitive computing is bringing the next wave of digital intelligence. Adapting your organization to the realities of the digital age is critical to your future success, but many businesses are unsure of how to develop an effective digital transformation strategy.

“Digital transformation” is simply the process of evolving your business to embrace digital. Whether you’re looking for advice on how to do a strategic overhaul of your IT infrastructure or want more of a slow, incremental plan, these tips should help you to start forming a solid digital transformation strategy.

How to develop an effective digital transformation strategy

Learn about digital technology.

Digital has been around for years now, and we all use smart digital devices in our daily lives, but the degree to which digital has impacted a business can vary greatly depending on your industry, offerings, and how forward-thinking your business strategy is. As you start to develop a digital transformation strategy, identify and understand the key business risks and opportunities presented by digital technologies, being sure to consider industry trends and how your competitors are using digital. Pay attention to emerging digital developments.

Know your business strategy and needs.

Understand the key business priorities and initiatives in your organization, and evaluate how digital technology can support them. What are your business imperatives? How will you define and measure the success of your digital transformation? Make sure to assess the level of commitment from the business to address digital transformation opportunities since buy-in from stakeholders across the company is critical to success.

Define your prioritized digital initiatives.

Next, identify and confirm key strategic digital transformation initiatives. This is where your IT teams will start to get into the weeds of some of the key projects related to digital. You’ll want to ask yourself what IT capabilities are needed to support your company’s digital transformation initiatives and how they relate to IT requirements. Assess your current and future requirements for IT, people and processes to achieve these initiatives. What will the costs be? What’s an achievable timeframe? You should also, at this stage, perform a current-future state gap analysis. As your digital transformation strategy starts to take form, create a structured roadmap to execute it. Organization is essential! I recommend that you have a high-level, focused IT action plan for your digital transformation, even if it changes over time.

Get started.

The pace of technological change can be overwhelming at times, and many organizations struggle to keep up with the barrage of new digital capabilities. Your company’s maturity in digital might vary greatly from other companies depending on how much emphasis your industry puts on technology trends, how long your business has been around and so on. But no matter where you are today, you can take steps toward digital transformation to help your company stay competitive for the future.

Finding guidance on the digital transformation journey

I lead the IBM Systems Lab Services Worldwide Business Development team, a group of over 130 professionals, and am a practicing Executive Consultant who works with CIOs and business leaders on business and IT alignment. Systems Lab Services consultants have proven expertise in helping companies to design, build and deliver IT infrastructure for the cognitive era. They have helped numerous clients to develop digital transformation strategies for their organizations. Reach out today to get our help in developing an effective digital transformation strategy for your business.

Manager - World Wide Business Development, IBM Systems

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