Ever heard of “Digital Darwinism”? – It’s us living, working and building companies in the era when technology and its impact on business and society are constant with inevitable degrees of evolution. Digital Darwinism ultimately created an environment, where businesses must “adapt or die”. To conclude – ignoring change is no longer an option for any organization across the world. To thrive in these times, many companies are investing in digital transformation, which, firstly, should begin with a radical shift in perspective.
“63% of executives revealed that the pace of technology change in their organization was too slow. And the most frequently cited obstacle to digital transformation is a lack of urgency”
Digital transformation strategy of any organization must align with market changes. Companies should exploit new technology that serves as an enabler to compete at scale in the new (and rapidly changing) world. To guide organizations through the stages of digital transformation, a series of patterns, components, and processes have been identified and analyzed. That, in turn, led to the creation of these 6 distinctive levels of digital transformation maturity:
- Business As Usual
- Test & Learn
- Systemize & Strategize
- Adapt Or Die
- Transformed & Transforming
- Innovate Or Die
What stage is your company at?
STAGE #1 | BUSINESS AS USUAL
“We’re profitable today! Why should we change?” is a common definition for this stage of digital transformation maturity. Processes and tools are scattered and decentralized across many departments within a company. If your organization is at the “Business As Usual” stage, there will be evident signs, like (1) lack of urgency, (2) outdated technology-first roadmaps and processes, (3) lack of understanding or infrastructure around digital, (4) technology is not viewed as a mechanism for optimization, scale, and efficiency in operations, (5) lack of “one” customer view across the organization, (6) marketing is still campaign-based across multiple social, digital, and traditional channels with little or no collaboration across different disciplines, (7) data exists in separate caches for every channel… And the list goes on.
STAGE #2 | TEST & LEARN
At this stage, teams usually still work in silos but become increasingly efficient at experimentation and tracking results. It takes a “change agent“ within a company to recognize that things aren’t working, that other businesses doing things differently and that it’s time to take action. That, in turn, might create an internal buzz and hype around change as well as amplify the chances for chaos as inconsistent experiments occur in isolation from other departments. At that point, companies start to courageously explore how to better understand the connected customer journey and start to invest in research, internal training programs, workshops etc. If your company is at the playground of “Test & Learn“, it is normally time to farewell with the comfort zone.
STAGE #3 | SYSTEMIZE & STRATEGIZE
Time to accelerate the speed of change! At this level of digital transformation maturity, companies are getting smarter, with its change agents seeing the bigger picture and starting to progressively work toward it. It’s when the corporate team begins to explore tech investments and partnerships to scale pilots and possibilities. Additionally to that, (1) metrics start to mature for investment optimization, (2) data becomes a fundamental tool for decision-making, (3) digital customer is placed at the center, (4) executive education is introduced, (5) digital literacy becomes a primary focus, and (6) most importantly, innovation as a strategy becomes a focal point to identify new business opportunities and potential disruption outside of the company.
STAGE #4 | ADAPT OR DIE
At this point, there comes a notable momentum, wherein change is recognized and appreciated by the entire organization. Businesses in this stage are becoming resilient. Efforts in digital transformation become intentional with short- and long-term goals supported by investments in infrastructure, people, processes, and technology. Resources are shared across departments (Data, CRM, Content, Education & Training and Governance). Remarkably, learnings gained through the digital transformation journey bring teams and executives together. New roles are established to further lead transformation in priority areas. Efforts shift from the traditional sales/marketing/commerce funnel to a more dynamic model that adapts change in technology and consumer behavior.
STAGE #5 | TRANSFORMED & TRANSFORMING
Digital transformation is no longer a temporary phenomena, but a gene in company’s DNA. At this stage, leadership establishes new agenda around culture, purpose, and the future of the organization. Digital literacy is now a way of leading and growing business. Learning becomes consistent, continuous and conscientious. Decision-making is optimized and focused on immediate and next-gen results. Every part of the organization is in sync, is aligned with goals and is responsible for jointly undergoing digital transformation and adapting innovative culture. Most importantly, new products and services are developed as a result of this transformation. Now, it is evident that organization is operating in a more unified manner with digital transformation efforts led by a governing body.
STAGE #6 | INNOVATE OR DIE
You did it! The teams/departments once dedicated to transformation and technology are now shifted toward innovation and disruption. It is when a culture of innovation ultimately becomes prevalent. Now, new models, roles, and investments shift towards innovation to accelerate transformation and identify new (unconventional) opportunities for business growth. At this stage, companies often form in-house innovation departments or centers or move those to an innovation hub around the country and even beyond. The main mission for these teams, naturally, vary but often include: (1) Recruiting new talents, (2) Identifying new technologies for internal/external piloting, (3) Investing in or acquiring startups, and (4) Scouting new opportunities for products and service development.