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The Future Of Making

Three Steps for Starting Your Digital Transformation

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Digital transformation is reshaping the world

Digital transformation is a much-hyped phenomenon, reshaping the world’s organizations and disrupting our industries. The reason for the hype is apparent. Organizations that incorporate digital technologies into all areas of the enterprise streamline their business, generating massive savings from a time and cost perspective, while enabling innovation to both their products and processes. For example, companies that implement digitization build better communication channels with customers and employees alike, allowing them to take a customer-centric approach and improve working conditions. However, digital transformation is not the panacea for every business problem. If you do not proceed with caution, digitization can quickly get out of hand, causing unnecessary and often harmful disruptions to businesses. In this post, we will explain how you can reap the full rewards of your digital transformation.

1 - Begin at the End: Define Your End State

What do you want to achieve with your digital transformation over the next few years? Before you consider any other aspect of your initiative, you must answer this question. Your response will drive your entire transformation project and, without a clear objective, your digital efforts will lack direction and will, ultimately, fail. So, you first need to understand how your organization can benefit from your digital transformation initiative.

Buy-in from staff and stakeholders is fundamental

How can you figure this out? Digital transformation begins with redefining your existing business processes. First, you should develop a clear vision, detailing how your organization will run once your digital change is complete. For example, if you run a manufacturing plant, you may want to upgrade the machines on your production lines to minimize downtime. Or, if you are a retailer, you may want to optimize your customer feedback mechanisms. These two examples redefine existing processes for these organizations to address a business problem. Through careful analysis of your market and your internal company data, you must discern what changes to introduce into your organization to improve it. You should also start to list tangible goals for your initiative. The more clarity you can provide in these early stages, the easier it will be to transform your business digitally.

Once you have devised your final state, share it with your colleagues. Buy-in from staff and stakeholders is one of the fundamental attributes that could help your digital transformation initiative succeed. So, communicate your vision to everyone involved across both your exec and non-exec teams. What’s more, welcome their feedback and respond accordingly.

2 - Take Reasonable Steps, Realize Value

When you have identified your primary objective for your digital transformation initiative, you must work out how you are going to deliver on your promise. So, break the entire implementation into discrete steps. As you outline each step, you may want to identify critical technologies and tools to enable the proposed changes.

Each step should solve a business problem

Whatever you decide on, each step should solve a business problem and deliver value on its own. Any new technologies introduced by your digital transformation efforts should improve on your existing processes, which will solve your current business issues, and deliver value. For example, this value could take the form of enhanced customer experience to improve loyalty, revenues, productivity, and retention. Or you may want to reduce your organizational costs and improve productivity by introducing a new digitally-fueled process. When identifying these steps, determine some metrics to measure this increase in value. Demonstrating the value of your digital changes with clear KPIs will help you communicate the benefits of your digital transformation initiative and achieve buy-in across your organization.

Finally, define the criteria for the completion of each stage of your digital transformation initiative. Each phase of execution should end with a completed milestone, which mitigates some form of risk for your organization. If you don’t introduce clear criteria for each step, one step will blend into the next, and you will struggle to communicate the progress you are making as well as the benefits you are bringing to your organization.

3 - Get Tactical with People, Process, and Technology

Often the most significant challenge when enabling digital change is cultural change. You cannot only release a new technology into your business and hope for the best. Instead, you have to acknowledge and plan for the people, process, and technology changes that must take place for your digital transformation initiative to succeed.

Skilled people need to shape your digital plans into actionable outcomes

On the people side of things, you will need skilled individuals with the right mindset, who are willing to shape your digital plans into actionable outcomes. As a result, you may need to introduce new roles or alter your existing ones, which will require you to upskill your current workforce and, maybe, find new talent. What’s more, for any transformation project to succeed, your leadership teams must support it.

Your processes will also need to change, with new practices, steps, and stages introduced into your current ways of working. Try to standardize as much as possible and document everything carefully so everyone can follow your new processes. This effort will help your staff think and work more effectively, make better decisions, and use the right tools for the job going forward.

Your technology enables change, allowing you to develop your people and processes to futureproof the growth and success of your company. Without the right technology, you cannot realize any digital change in your organization. However, it is worth remembering that without the right people and processes in place, even the most state-of-the-art piece of technology is redundant.

Summary

Digital transformation is a global phenomenon, helping businesses realize many benefits and widespread innovation. But you must proceed with caution to reap the full rewards of any digital changes.

Start at the end by defining your primary objective for your digital transformation initiative. This goal usually refines an existing business process and, once finalized, should be communicated across your organization to help buy-in.

Break your entire implementation into clear steps, identifying the value each one brings to the organization. If possible, identify metrics to measure this increase in value and define the criteria of success for each stage so you can clearly communicate both the added value and progress you are making during your digital initiative.

You must take into account the people, process, and technology changes to enable digital transformation. While technology is the key enabler to change, you need the right people and clear processes in place for your initiative to succeed.

Technology trends shaping the future of manufacturing

Manufacturers are under more pressure than ever to deliver better products faster, at lower cost, and with less waste. Let’s explore future manufacturing trends and technology that can help you succeed in this rapidly changing era of digital transformation.

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