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PHOTO: Elena Koycheva

Despite the global push towards developing digital workplaces, many organizations have either yet to develop a digital strategy and initiate digital transformation, or have a digital strategy in place but are unsure how to set it in motion.

This is, and will continue to be, a problem moving forward. Recent research from IDC predicts that by 2023, more than half of all worldwide GDP is predicted to be driven by products and services from digitally transformed industries. Its FutureScape report (registration required), published in October, looked at the impact of digital transformation initiatives and new technologies on businesses over the next year.

According to the report, “Within the next four years, the global economy will finally reach 'digital supremacy,' with more than half of the GDP driven by products and services from digitally transformed enterprises.”

It also suggests enterprises need to transform themselves to compete in the emerging digital-first marketplace: bringing digital supremacy to their IT budgets, expanding their digital reach, becoming digital innovation factories, mastering AI, increasing their commitment to digital trust and scaling up their own third-party developer ecosystem.

There are seven drivers pushing this:

  1. The age of innovation is driving the future enterprise.
  2. Accelerated disruption requires new ways to navigate business challenges the platform economy is now competing at hyperscale.
  3. Organizations will continue to maximize data value.
  4. Intelligence everywhere driven by AI's opportunity and implications.
  5. AI, human and organizational "learning" fuels asymmetrical advantage.
  6. Rising customer expectations from digital enterprises.
  7. Escalating digital threats mandate strategic responses.

Anyone watching the digital transformation space will be familiar with most, if not all, of these drivers as the top 10 stories in our digital transformation coverage over the past year shows.

1. Don't Confuse Digital Transformation With Customer Experience 

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably familiar with two popular industry buzzwords that are often mentioned in the same breath: digital transformation and customer experience. Digital transformation is the application of digital technologies like mobile, data analytics and smart embedded devices to reinvent customer relationships and business processes.

2. 6 Digital Transformation Challenges Enterprises Need to Overcome 

Digital transformation strategies have so many moving parts. And as a moving target, it's difficult to pin down, which makes it unsurprising how much attention the process gets. In a piece in the Harvard Business Review last year on why so many digital transformation projects fail, Thomas H. Davenport and George Westerman defined digital transformation as follows, "Digital transformation is an ongoing process of changing the way you do business. It requires foundational investments in skills, projects, infrastructure, and often, in cleaning up IT systems. It requires mixing people, machines and business processes, with all of the messiness that entails.”

3. 3 Ways to Change Company Culture to Support Digital Transformation

When successful companies have culture problems they make headlines: "Inside Uber’s Aggressive, Unrestrained Workplace Culture," "Amazon’s Allegedly Harsh Work Culture Has Made Headlines," "What You Can Learn from the Facebook Culture Crisis" are just a few examples. These headlines serve as a reminder of how important company culture is to the success of your business. Poor company culture plays a large part in failed digital transformation initiatives. If you are planning to embark on a digital transformation journey, it’s important to examine the current state of your company’s culture to ensure it is strong enough to support digital initiatives.

4. Yes, You Can Outsource Digital Transformation 

Contract workers have been a fixture in the IT employment universe for several years now — indeed, for many companies, most famously Google, contract workers outnumber full-time employees. About 32% of tech industry roles are now freelance, according to a report by Porch.

Given that, is there a case to be made that digital transformation should be any different? According to Jason Bloomberg, president of Intellyx that answer should be yes. Digital transformation is a software-empowered, customer-driven business transformation where customer preferences and behavior drive enterprise technology decisions, he said.

5. Failure to Launch: 5 Causes of Digital Transformation Failure 

The gap between digital transformation dreams and digital transformation realities is reflected in this McKinsey analysis:

“... the painful reality is that most transformations fail. Research shows that 70% of complex, large-scale change programs don’t reach their stated goals. Common pitfalls include a lack of employee engagement, inadequate management support, poor or nonexistent cross-functional collaboration and a lack of accountability. Furthermore, sustaining a transformation’s impact typically requires a major reset in mindsets and behaviors — something that few leaders know how to achieve.”

6. Why Digital Transformation Feels So Difficult

Despite our collective energy and investment (and even though it’s about to enter its second decade as a top-of-mind IT trend!), digital transformation still feels difficult. There are, of course, many reasons why this remains the case, but let’s start with the most obvious: digital transformation is difficult. No amount of buzz, no list of best practices, and certainly no single technology is going to change that.

7. The Ingredients of a Successful Digital Transformation Strategy

The term “digital transformation” may admittedly be ambiguous, but the symptoms and organizational impact of it are very real.

In this current age of disruption, organizations face pressure to become more competitive and deliver more value to their customers, and leading change through evolved digital capability is how it should happen. The biggest challenge, though, is that transformation does not happen overnight. To do it successfully, certain capabilities must be in place. Successful digital transformation relies on a combination of cultural strategies, business and IT process changes, and modern technology.

8. Why Employee Experience Is Crucial to Successful Digital Transformation 

Work is radically evolving in the 21st century, with software set to disrupt most traditional industries in the next five to 10 years. Anyone who has ever led a transformation initiative knows that change is hard, but digital transformation is even harder. Whether it’s the scope of change, the adoption of technology or the reorganization of legacy business units, digital transformation affects people, processes and technology, making it difficult to get employees to adapt to and embrace change. McKinsey found that organizations with fewer than 100 employees are 2.7 times more likely to report a successful digital transformation than those with more than 50,000 employees.

9. Why Information Management Plays a Critical Role in Digital Transformation 

Most employees say productivity suffers because of poor information management. This should come as no surprise considering the amount of data being generated by companies, employees and consumers in today’s digital ecosystem. According to the 2019 Global Intelligent Information Management Benchmark Report from M-Files, 82% of the 1,500 surveyed said small and large organizations alike will suffer from less than optimal productivity if they don’t address information management issues.

10. Leading a Data-Driven Organization: Create a Culture That Embraces Digital Transformation

Digital activities and the data generated by them have made it possible to automate on a scale unimaginable even five years ago. According to McKinsey, existing technology could automate 40% of sales activities, and that number could potentially rise to 50% once machines are better able to understand and process language.