Digital transformation is about playing the long game, not the short game.

The problem most companies face when starting on their digital transformation journey is that they don’t look far enough down the line when building out their strategy. 

Many companies, responding to competitive and market pressures, look for quick, short-term gains. But every time they buy new technology or software from a vendor that solves a one-off problem, they can actually sabotage their future success.

When organizations tackle digital transformation, they need to think about how to future-proof their technology to set themselves up for success in the long term while still making those important short-term gains. 

As new capabilities become available, organizations need a strategy to enjoy those quick wins without further complicating their existing platforms and overall enterprise architecture.

Understand What Needs Improvement

Digital transformation is not a one-size-fits-all approach, so it’s critical to understand exactly which areas need the most attention. 

Take customer service as an example. 

Customer service has recently emerged as one of the key drivers for business success. Businesses are under tremendous pressure to ensure their organizational structure, company culture and technology are aligned to best service customers and deliver more relevant and personalized customer engagements.

Digital transformation has become a catch-all antidote to these customer service issues, sending organizations scrambling to find more innovative ways of doing business and connecting with customers.

Find the Pain Points in the Customer Journey

As organizations create their digital strategies, they need to evaluate the entire customer journey to understand where in the process customers are looking for more immediate engagement and support. From those insights, they can determine what digital technologies the business should invest in.

Let’s say an organization performs some customer journey mapping and uncovers that a critical hotspot in need of attention is their mobile and Web self-service experience. To address this need, the business might implement a co-browsing solution. 

When customers call into a contact center for support, customer service representatives can use co-browsing to virtually look over their shoulder to see exactly what they’re doing on the website and guide them through their site actions in real-time. By being able to see exactly what the customer is seeing, reps can make an instant diagnosis of the problem the customer is having, and can help the customer quickly resolve the issue.

The co-browse example shows how making one digital “quick win” within an organization can fit into a broader plan to create better customer experiences. 

But while making these more accessible short-term enhancements brings organizations closer to digital nirvana, they shouldn’t ignore long-term planning, or they could make things even worse.

Build a Digital Transformation Roadmap

Before buying any new technology or updating existing platforms, organizations should create a clear vision of what they want the end goal to be. 

This requires answering some complex questions that look deep into the needs and challenges of their business, such as:

  • How can we use our customer data to improve the customer journey?
  • Where is the business headed in the next five, 10 years?
  • How do we plan to replace/update our existing technology to ensure it can keep pace?
  • What channels need improvement to support customer demand and how can we address this short-term need, while being mindful of long-term plans?

Consider the platform that will be the basis of their digital transformation and the solutions that will function within it. Companies with legacy applications and systems that aren’t yet ready to be replaced — which is common — still need to evolve and keep pace with new capabilities, untapped channels and rich data to outpace their competition. 

No matter how they want to take advantage of digital technology enablers such as social, mobile, cloud, analytics or the Internet of Things, companies should form short- and long-term plans to support new channels and use the data at their disposal in a way that helps them achieve their business goals.

All technology eventually becomes obsolete. By forming a digital transformation strategy that focuses on quick wins that build toward long-term business goals, businesses will ensure digital success.

Digital Transformation Wasn't Built in a Day

Undertaking a complete enterprise digital transformation can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be done overnight. 

Identify smaller, more palatable steps towards digital transformation. By making incremental, actionable decisions that will drive toward longer term goals, businesses will be able to thrive in today’s digital economy. 

Title image "the game plan" (CC BY 2.0) by  idlebrat