Digitization and process optimization is everywhere these days. Hardly one day passes without news about the IIoT and digital transformation. In this blogpost we present the 10 most challenging topics of digital transformation.

1. The definition

Tip: Finding one universal definition is hard. Define digital transformation for your business and act according to your interpretation.

A lot of people, even those in important positions, do not really have clear ideas about what digital transformation is and how it can be managed. Widespread misconception: companies do have to digitally transform quickly and completely at one go. OK, the process of transforming should lead to completely digitized processes, the integration of partners/customers/suppliers into these processes and, depending on the company, even to digital products. But before comprehensive digital transformation the most companies need to optimize and digitize their processes. Even by digitally transforming single processes you can benefit from great increase of efficiency and furthermore get interesting insights that are helpful for follow-up projects.

2. The start/the strategy

Tip: Test your goals according to future security.

Every beginning is hard. So it is when starting digital transformation. You have to decide between developing a clear strategy or gradually implementing projects that don’t follow a clear strategy? Sure, establishing a clear plan on how to deal with digital transformation needs time and this time often is missing.

8 tips for a digitisation strategy can be found in this article.

Despite this, most companies deal with the potentials of digital transformation by implementing projects and celebrating the results. In point 7 you can read about the effects.

“Although most organizations understand digital transformation as a completely new IT-paradigm only a little part yet has internalized it holistically within a detailed strategy.”

Heiko Henkes, Director Advisor Experton Group and study director “Digital Transformation Readiness”

3. Choosing relevant projects

Tip: Think and digitally transform across the whole company. 

When there’s a clearly defined strategy it’s much easier to identify useful projects in line with the strategy. Is this strategy missing every eligible project needs to be evaluated to make a decision. The result often is a mixed bunch of different projects in different departments which mostly is only known by the department itself.

4. The responsibilites

Tip: Define clear responibilities for your digital transformation.

Digital transformation must affect the whole company but who really is responsible, the CEO, the CIO or even the CDO? No matter which position is in charge of identifying, collecting or implementing suitable projects, you need a specific contact person with appropriate skills and possibilities. When departments refuse to transform digitally it needs assertiveness, empathy and sometimes even the hierarchic position that allows assertion.

5. Choosing suppliers

Tip: First define projects and their aims. Only then start searching the suitable supplier to implement your concepts.

Let’s be honest, digitization is everywhere and also in our business environment there are apps for every task. Despite this, the market for mobile business applications still is growing. People who are able to keep the overview within the jungle of applications and suppliers really are lucky. Considering that the most IT projects and therefore those for digital transformation have a cost and schedule overrun one can see the importance of choosing the right supplier. But even the best one can’t work reliably without having a clear task. So, before ordering a new application make sure that its aims are clearly defined.

6. Involve employees (IT and other departments)e)

Tip: Identify employees that are convinced of digital transformation and encourage them to inspire their colleagues.

In point 4 we already mentioned the possibility that there are departments that might refuse digital transformation. Reasons may be:

  • Personal reasons, like antipathy against responsible person
  • Fear, for example for new technologies or the fear of confessing failures
  • Security concerns
  • Laziness

You can’t simply decide to transform digitally and then insist on your decision by forcing people to do what you want. The whole company has to support the movement and that’s why it’s essential to involve all departments right from the start, for example by active participation or by letting them choose devices. Only by creating enthusiasm no matter for which part of digital transformation you will receive full agreement. The greatest effects often can be created by colleagues. They motivate and inspire far more than every management decision or employee meeting. Create a culture of transformation.

7. The project-jungle

Tip: Clean up your digitization projects.

At this point at the latest you see negative effects of having made digitization projects without having a clear strategy. There are many different projects and nobody really knows how much there are. When you don’t start to clean up now the costs for administering your projects will ruin all savings. At this point the responsible people are likely to appreciate that a strategic orientation wouldn’t have been that bad.

8. The consolidation

Tip: Ask your IT-manager to dinner. In the best case he or she knows about all implemented projects.

Now, the hard work starts, depending on how many projects already have been implemented. You need to get an overview. But that’s hard when several people are responsible for different projects. It can take a while to find out about processes already being digital. Now, it’s a matter of strategy to avoid this mistake in future. Important questions are:

  • What are the aims of digitization?
  • Which projects do you want to implement to do so?
  • How do the solutions need to be connected to avoid a repeated chaos?

9. Secure the future

Tip: Develop all future projects on one technological base. Only when doing so you can keep the overview.

The only way to manage future-proof digital transformation is to use technologies that don’t require special skills as highly specialized staff is hard to get. Nevertheless all systems need to be compatible, the applications must be interconnectable to be able to work sustainably. But it’s not only about sustainability, speed also is an important topic within digital transformation. Search for ways to faster implement your applications and keep or even increase their quality.

10. Stay up-to-date

Tip: Get inspired by consumer applications

Keep an eye on developing technolgies. By doing so you will recognize trends and establishing standards and will have the opportunity to react at an early stage. Keep an eye on developing technolgies. By doing so you will recognize trends and establishing standards and will have the opportunity to react at an early stage. Consumer apps are valuable trend barometers that shouldn’t be underestimated. In our blogpost “Why is enterprise software considered ugly?” we explain why.