Last month Forbes published a list of the seven essential steps for a business to make their digital transformation. Let me save you the click – here’s what made the list:
- Adopt an exponential mindset
- Build and recruit digital capabilities
- Create a broad digital roadmap
- Inventory company assets and activities
- Apply business model, design thinking, not just product or service design thinking, to create your future business model
- Build digital assets
- Adjust the organizational structure—start small, then go big
As someone whose job involved working with companies on their digital transformation I can tell you this is a solid list. No surprise, the author of the article, Barry Libert, has a wealth of expertise mentoring CEOs and helping businesses make their digital transformation, and he knows of what he writes.
But there’s one thing that Libert has left off his list and it’s the one that is perhaps the most essential to a company achieving their digital transformation: deciding to start a digital transformation.
It might seem to go without saying but the first step forward is deciding to make the change. While it seems straightforward, I have witnessed many companies put off even deciding to get started on – let alone actually begin – their digital transformation. Leaders get distracted with short-term issues, operational matters rise to the top of agendas and push strategic planning aside, and the advantages of investing in a digital transformation that are obvious to the entire C-suite end up being ignored as fears of changing what already works overwhelm decision makers. If it ain’t broke, why fix it, goes the boardroom refrain, and the digital transformation is put off for another quarter, another half, or another year.
There are many reasons why putting off a digital transformation is a bad idea.
Consider your customers, for one. Companies can serve their customers better, more efficiently, and keep them happy by adopting digital technology and embracing true digital transformation.
Or consider your operating efficiencies. Here at The CoSMo Company we have worked with Europe’s largest electricity transmission system operator, RTE, during their digital transformation. Our technology has helped them choose optimal asset investment and management strategies that are expected to generate operating expenditure and capital savings of more than 14%. For a company that spends as much as RTE on their assets, that saving represents an $80 million digital solution.
Accessible examples from a variety of industries have chosen to begin their digital transformation and experienced almost immediate success. Whether it’s JetBlue (transport) and Dominos (fast food) whose investments in mobile technology led to smoother purchasing cycles and increased sales, Ford (automotive) or CaixaBank (finance) which both invested in digital and data analytics to the benefits of company and customer alike, or global names like GE and Disney that have proven that digital transformation can pay off fast in multiple verticals at once, the examples of companies that have chosen to start their digital transformation now instead of next month, next quarter, or next year abound.
Now it is possible that your business doesn’t want happier customers, doesn’t want to save on operating expenses, and is happy relying on instinct and intuition to guide major long-term investment decisions. If your business is happy to continue in the same vein it always has, apply the same tired approaches to new and dynamic markets, and if you are content to stand like a rock in the face of a changing world, then a digital transformation is probably not for you.
For most businesses, though, a digital transformation is essential. And more than that, a digital transformation is essential right now.
Barry Libert is right to argue that there is a process behind any successful transformation but that transformation needs to get started, that first decision needs to be made, and the sooner it is made the sooner a business can expect to see their name alongside those other digital transformation success stories. Putting off the decision to start that transformation means leaving cash on the table and customers dissatisfied, and in a competitive and dynamic business environment there are precious few businesses that can afford to do that.