“Transformation is often more about unlearning than learning.” ~Richard Rohr
When it comes to digital transformation, the quote from Richard Rohr sums it up entirely too well. The business world is changing so quickly that it can be hard to keep up – but business who embrace a culture of change and transformation are well on the way to ensuring the future of their organization. So far in our series on digital transformation, we’ve defined digital transformation and discussed the current state of adoption of digital technologies. But now, we should take a look at the different stages an organization goes through in the journey to achieve digital transformation and what it takes to realize true transformation.
Brian Solis, the principal analyst at Altimeter, studies digital technologies and their effects on businesses and society. In his recent report, he notes that digital transformation is one of the most important trends for businesses today and details the 6 stages that an organization would go through on the journey.
6 Stages of Digital Transformation
Stage 1: Business as usual
The status quo. Businesses continue to operate in the way they always have, with no insights into their customer’s perspective or desires. A prime example of this is Blockbuster and Netflix. Blockbuster refused to make the switch to an “as-a-service” model, even as the popularity of Netflix became apparent, and eventually pushed the organization into obsolescence.
Stage 2: Present and Active
In stage 2, businesses have recognized the need for transformation and may even be experimenting with different technologies to bring themselves further along the path. But the efforts are not organized and different departments are approaching the problem in a myriad of different ways. Unless a business can find a way to move from the chaos to a more organized approach, the efforts to transform will most likely fall flat.
Stage 3: Formalized
Once a business moves to the formalized stage, you start to see intentional experimentation of new technologies, with key visionaries and change agents within the business seeking executive buy in. It’s at this stage that businesses are most likely to run into roadblocks put up by company culture. For a company to move beyond this, they must make changes to the company culture to be successful.
Stage 4: Strategic
Once a business has reached strategic, they have managed to wade through the roadblocks of entrenched work culture and executive buy-in and have moved towards creating a strategic roadmap. Individual groups and departments have recognized the power and strength in digital collaboration and are moving towards investments in technologies that will transform the business.
Stage 5: Converged
The general definition of converged is a pair of lines that meet at a point. Businesses who have made it to the converged step of digital transformation have developed a specific, targeted team of innovators to guide the business down a strategic path towards transformation. These businesses have overcome the cultural roadblocks traditionally seen when business embark on the journey towards transformation and are well on their way to success.
Stage 6: Innovative and Adaptive
Businesses who have made it to this stage have achieved true digital transformation. It’s become a way of life and organizations are well placed to continue to pursue new technological paths and adapt to the ever-changing business world with ease.
Key Observations from Altimeter’s Report
One thing that stood out very strongly was that the biggest obstacle a business faces in the journey to true digital transformation was cultural. It is very easy to fall into the trap of “the way it’s always been” but at some point, the way it’s “always been” becomes obsolete. To truly compete and survive in this highly competitive world, businesses need to find new and alternate technologies that will help them reduce costs, attract the right talent and enable the workforce and clientele to communicate how and when works best for them.
Getting Here from There
One way to start is by tackling small steps at a time. How is your demographic trying to contact you? How about your workforce? Are they demanding a more flexible, mobile way of work? Where can you save some money by utilizing alternative technologies like Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS)?
If you are wondering how DaaS can help your organization start down the path to true digital transformation, start by reading how others just like you have successfully launched new digital initiatives here.