The COVID-19 pandemic forced thousands of organizations around the world to undergo rapid digital transformation as they shifted to remote work. In the process, it upended many long-held assumptions on how businesses should operate.
“Digital transformation is less of a digital problem than it is a transformation problem,” George Westerman, principal research scientist for workforce learning in MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab, said during a recent webinar for MIT Sloan Management Review. “It’s a leadership problem for envisioning and driving change.”
While the pandemic may be easing with vaccinations, digital transformation efforts are far from over. In fact, many organizations are accelerating their transition. Where should you target your next-generation digital initiatives? Here are four areas Westerman recommends, as seen in the MIT Sloan Management Review.
Customer experience: In the age of digital technology, customer experience is more personal than ever. To create more personalized experiences for customers, organizations are using data, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and mobile apps to give customers products and services targeted to their specific needs and interests.
Employee experience: Some organizations are leveraging digital tools to help their employees work more efficiently. For example, an organization can use augmented reality to superimpose instructions onto a workspace to help employees, such as using overlays to show electricians how to install wires.
Operations: New technologies driven by the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 (like digital twins and machine learning) allow organizations to enhance their use of real-time data to boost operational performance and deliver new services. For example, contract manufacturers can leverage data to understand which components to use and what suppliers are best at assisting customers design high-quality electronics products.
Business model transformation: Organizations don’t need to make huge leaps in digital transformation. Many can be successful making small changes tailored to their needs. Fleet companies, for example, are using real-time data and analytics to provide predictive and proactive maintenance services.
Haven’t Started Your Digital Transformation Journey? Start Small.
If your organization is just getting started on the road to digital transformation, it is best to start small, according to Alex McWilliam, a cloud consultant manager at Google. Not only should the project have immediate value to your organization, McWilliam recommends identifying a project that can be executed in a month using only the resources you currently have in order to stick to the timeline. McWilliams says you can overcome challenges by:
Proving you can execute: Every person on your team needs to understand how to make “meaningful contributions.” Likewise, the team must have an ability to “collectively make informed decisions in a timely manner.”
Taking heed of skeptics: Some people at your organization will correctly have doubts about your digital transformation efforts. Your solution will likely come with some drawbacks. Be upfront about your project’s weaknesses and prepare to explain why the benefits outweigh them.
Working with who and what you can: Instead of asking leaders to give you a certain number of developers to assist you, request to work with developers who are interested in working on the project. These individuals are most likely to get excited about the project and make time for it.
While digital transformation poses some major challenges to organizations, its benefits cannot be dismissed. By starting small and targeting your next-generation digital initiatives, your organization is well on its way to mastering digital transformation.
Prepare Your Organization for Digital Transformation
Get your organization ready for digital transformation. The IEEE five-course program, Digital Transformation: Moving Toward a Digital Society, aims to foster a discussion around how digital transformation can transform various industries and provide the background knowledge needed to smartly implement digital tools into organizations.
Contact an IEEE Account Specialist to get access for your organization.
Interested in the course for yourself? Check out the course program on the IEEE Learning Network.
McWilliam, Alex. (30 July 2021). Big Digital Transformations Come In Small Packages. Forbes.
Stackpole, Beth. (27 July 2021). Digital transformation after the pandemic. Sloan Management Review.