A solid digital transformation strategy is the first step to ensuring you have the foundations to refocus your people, resources and efforts in the right direction. So what are the key elements you need to get right in your strategy in order to get your digital transformation off to the best start?

1. Alignment to organisational strategy
The purpose of a digital transformation isn’t to create a silo’d team, new goals or a second stream of projects. A successful digital transformation will enhance an organisational strategy by enhancing digital capability, technology and mindsets. Therefore, before commencing digital transformation work, it is crucial that the organisational mission, values, goals and strategy are clear in order to identify the gaps and the opportunities.
Successful digital transformation strategies accelerate towards a common goal, they don’t divide an organisation.
Key activities for success include:
  • Organisational strategy review
  • SWOT analysis 
  • Market analysis 
2. Customer validation
With consultants, senior leaders and strategists collaborating to deliver a digital transformation strategy, it will be natural to jump to unchallenged assumptions. These assumptions well may be valid and based on previous experience, market trends and academic research. However, to ensure it is relevant for your unique customer, each major assumption needs to be qualified with real customers before making major decisions which will determine your relevancy.
Getting customer validation doesn’t mean that you always have to do what your customers want.

Your customers may not know what they want until they see it. However, if you are going to take your customers in a new direction, you need to know their motivations and plan the change journey you will take them on.

Key activities for success include:

  • Customer empathy 
  • Customer journey mapping
  • Future trend analysis 
3. Co-creation
The easiest path to delivering a digital transformation strategy is to bring the digital subject matter experts into a room, extract a bunch of information and have a consultant come back with a shiny slide deck. This approach will be time efficient but unlikely to deliver transformational thinking and a viable action plan.
An effective digital transformation strategy will be formed by engaging those who can contribute to a wide business lens and a diverse problem solving mindset.

A  digital subject matter experts, senior leadership, your front line team, creative start ups, technology partners and if we really go crazy, real customers! Using this team to create the outputs will ensure that change management can be effectively planned and we get endorsement of the strategy from day one.

Key activities for success include:

  • Open forums
  • Design challenges
  • Progress showcases 
4. Boulders, rocks and pebbles
Digital transformation can be daunting. This is magnified when the output is a list of multi-year, multi-million dollar, interdependent projects which span a horizon likely to reach the launch of iPhone23.
The truth is, we can’t be sure we know what the digital landscape will look like in 12 months, let alone 12 years. But we need to start now.

Therefore, digital transformation actions need to be split into boulders (big foundational projects likely to take years), rocks (medium sized initiatives which can be implemented this year) and pebbles (the tactical improvements to test immediately). By ensuring we have various sized actions we can ensure we can start today, plan for tomorrow and create long term momentum.

Key activities for success include:

  • Time boxed goals
  • Test & learn initiatives
  • Post-strategy 90 day plan
5. Decisions (not necessarily alignment)
When creating a digital transformation strategy, it is inevitable that there will be opinions which do not align. This is not only OK, it is constructive. We want our key stakeholders to have the opportunity to be heard and contribute to the solution. Then, even if there is not consensus on the approach, we need public agreement on a way forward. By having these open conversations and decision endorsement, it is more likely that action will follow strategy.
The most dangerous behavior is implied consensus and silent dissent.

For big decisions, especially around people or technology, silent dissent is likely to lead to politics and wheel spinning rather than action post strategy delivery.

Key activities for success include:

  • Design principles 
  • Affinity mapping
  • Clear sign-off

The one thing that all these elements have in common? A successful digital transformation strategy comes down to HOW we create rather than WHAT we create.  By aligning to one organisational strategy, engaging stakeholders (especially customers), incorporating diverse viewpoints, clear decision endorsement and immediately actionable next steps, you will set your digital transformation up for success.

Nathan is the founder and lead consultant at 12HIGH. 12HIGH specialises in establishing digital strategy including digital transformation, Test & Learn capabilities, eCommerce optimisation and customer connection. Contact 12HIGH now