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PHOTO: Alternate Skate

Nicolette Stepakoff, G Suite digital transformation manager at SADA Systems, recently worked with an enterprise client that had 15,000 employees. “Their adoption metrics for Mail and Calendar were 95%, which is fabulous,” she said. However, the client noticed that only 5% of people were actively using Google Drive. SADA's digital transformation team planned its next move. It decided to remove the client's network shared drives — where most data resided — and migrate that information to Google Drive. “This initiative increased the Drive usage by 40% and the client was able to save money on decommissioning most of their network servers and maintenance costs,” Stepakoff said.

The increase in Drive usage represented a small but important victory to SADA. “One of our goals as a digital transformation team is to understand where the client currently is in regards to adoption and set a concrete plan to grow that number,” she said.

SADA’s experience also illustrates an important maxim for digital transformation projects at large: don’t pause too long between victories. Why? Because valuable momentum can be lost.

Keep Up the Momentum

Business transformation has long ceased to be a “nice to have” project and now belongs in the category of essential. At the same time, digital transformation is new enough that each milestone achieved provides a good reason for a team to take a step back and marvel at their accomplishment. For various reasons, this is never a good idea especially as the time between projects becomes longer and longer. Stagnation then sets in.

The good news is there are a number of ways to stave this off, starting with the leaders at the company. For them, it is important to remember that the industry is in a constant state of change, and their mindsets need to reflect that, said John Mullen, CEO of Capgemini.

“Change is the 'new normal' for all organizations — this means constant thinking, constant planning, constant activations, which in turn will lead companies to constant innovation and business growth,” he said. “While this can sound daunting and exhausting for some that are newer to digital transformation — it’s also important to know that their competitors who choose to thrive in the face of change will overtake them in their respective industries.”

Related Article: An Iterative Approach to Digital Transformation

Celebrate Wins, But Don't Get too Comfortable

It is just too easy to become complacent, especially if a goal or mini-goal is easier to reach than predicted, said Sean Si, CEO of SEO Hacker. That happened at SEO Hacker as the company was undergoing a digital transformation change to support a goal to increase both its team members as well as its clientele. “The best strategy I use to keep our team grounded is to be transparent enough to tell them that although the wins are obvious enough, we are still experiencing losses that are difficult to mitigate,” Si said. "Always remember that people are easier to convince if you present facts and data, which is why I always remain transparent with regards to 'wins' that relate to our goals for the year. This helps us keep our heads in the game and strive for more wins as well."

None of this is to say that companies should ignore milestones, especially with difficult projects. “Celebrating achievements is a great way to motivate a team to keep driving forward and it provides an opportunity to address what is next,” said Justin Grossman, CEO of meltmedia. Digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight after all, he added. More key, though, is that these celebrations should happen against a backdrop of a company culture that embraces learning and innovation. “Keep your eyes on the immediate and the long-term plans and make adjustments based on the achievements and the lessons learned,” Grossman said.