By Corey Moss

A few months back I wrote the blog The Digital Discussion of Convergence and Disruption which referred to digital transformation, with reference as well to velocity of change in part influenced by this article, where the author discusses how things are changing fast in the world, and small companies are taking traditional business concepts and turning them upside down (with a reference to the company Zipcar which threw the Hertz and Avis models off balance) – this to go along with the relative high stakes that are involved.

In the technology industry, the leaders innovate rapidly, then promote these innovations through correlating marketing efforts to strategically gain market share – which in turn also leads to scaling faster than those who may still be clinging to older, standard business models. In the business world, whether an organization is technology-based or not, this same exact thought process applies. Advance technologically and transform – or else.

A global executive digital transformation study 

In a Forbes Corporate Communications post from November of this year Half of Executives Worldwide Expect Vast Digital Transformation in Next Two Years, Says New Study, according to a new report by Forbes Insights (in association with Hitachi Data Systems) digital transformation sits atop the strategic agenda for enterprises, where half of the executives surveyed (including 573 senior executives worldwide) believe the next two years will be critical for their organizations in order to make this transition and prepare for future opportunities. The global study revealed that now more than ever, every industry and company faces the pressure to transform – before it’s too late, although this is something that remains to be defined as to when it will be too late.

The focus of evaluation for the study is on business processes, where it’s determined that real business transformation, made possible by digital transformation, is only achievable when organizations realize the interconnectedness of people, processes and technology. Fair enough, however, when considering such interconnectedness among the three, you also need to consider the following statement that all three must be synchronized for meaningful business transformation to occur. And now comes the buzz when discussing the act of being synchronized, or in sync, which I believe is one of those “outlawed” terms in business now. Let’s just say the jury may still be out on that one.

Added to this is the fact that only a third of companies in this study consider themselves leaders in customer experience, where it’s also pointed out that the potential of data and analytics to help with this process has been underutilized. Five steps toward the transformation are detailed, and beyond making transformation a top strategic priority toward digital maturity (yes that is step #1), the next step concerns how business outcomes need to drive digital transformation (DX) – new models followed by new technologies. The following three steps, which includes untapped potential of data and analytics, are specified as issues which companies still grapple with, and must resolve.

An organizational focus on digital transformation – readiness and adoption

Where we begin with the organizational focus on digital transformation, one must first review the organization itself in terms of its readiness and then consider that, according to another of the five steps presented as a challenge, an enterprise-wide approach to DX needs to be adopted where currently cross-functional teams are not involved enough in developing or implementing strategy, with the bulk of this work done by IT. There are also those who consider that by just implementing “newer” technologies they’ve supplied the answer to a road toward such transformation, however it is a much more concentrated effort for certain.

In a silicon ANGLE article Does every company have to become a technology company?, Rowan Trollope, SVP & GM of the collaboration technology group at Cisco Systems, Inc. states “When companies are digitizing, they need better collaboration tools. That’s the first thing they need.” He also contended that collaboration tools help make communication between IT and other employees as speedy and frictionless as digitization demands – where much of this transformation does happen to emanate from the IT side.

In the article Trollope makes the claim that technology is something which absolutely needs to be woven into the fabric of every business. “Every company has to become a technology company,” he stated. “The question is how many of them are going to be able to make the transition. That’s a hard transition to make.”

I agree to a certain extent, and in fact I’ll take it a bit farther. As we speed along in this increasingly mobile-first world, organizations must adopt a mobile business platform. Extremely late to the game these days will translate to little to no plan for mobile adoption, leaving those who have not moved in this direction way behind the eight ball. And  honestly, they’ve had more than enough time as it is.

It is somewhat strange though that this transition is still considered to be a difficult one in 2016, and as we know, unified communications and collaboration represent just one focused area of advancement for the organization. However when you think of it, we know that business does not get done without at least two to four people engaging in some sort of collaborative effort (thus the creation of the huddle room). Extend this to the notion that these days, with the tools for videoconferencing and collaboration which we have, a meeting should be able to get done from anywhere at any time – whether in the office, or on the road on a laptop or mobile device.

Thus any enterprise organization should be able to accomplish their transformational goals while being able to provide the proper tools for getting business done within, along with generating the best experiences possible for their customers. Data and analytics can provide some of the answers for business tranformation, real-world strategic technology implementation, proper utilization and the ability to pivot properly on change management will provide the answers for true overall transformation.

Is there a deadline?

As I alluded to however, when is the deadline for this transformation before it becomes too late and an organization finally fades into the enterprise transformational abyss? The last step, in which companies must learn how best to marry technology with human resources could possibly present the answer to this question, where according to the study it’s seen as the biggest challenge and the main contributor to a successful digital transformation – as people are at the top of the list when it comes to how to deal with challenges of DX.

For technology to be considered a main transformational contributer, people (defined as talent and capabilities here), as part of this final step need to be viewed as main contributors to overall success as well. With this, the need for management/employee team concept has never been viewed as stronger and so in demand as it is now for survival.

People, processes and technology – perhaps the answer does lie in the interconnectedness and synchronization of the three to achieve the DX that so many enterprise executives seek. Don’t forget to add collaboration and mobility to that mix as well – the technologies, the talent and capabilities, and the training. All in sync, of course.

(Note: figures/percentages related to the five steps as well as respondents in the study can be found in the Forbes Insights report in the article).