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17 March 2020

3 steps to embarking on a successful digital transformation journey


Digital transformation has quickly become one of the most talked-about disruptors across the world. In fact, Gartner reports that globally 90% of organizations are making it a priority. This means that now, more than ever before, businesses are on the lookout for innovative solutions to outdated issues.  

As technology evolves, there’s little doubt that it can provide modern and forward-thinking tools. Yet, despite the obvious interest in upskilling, automating and implementing of digital solutions, only 26% of high-tech and telecoms companies have managed to successfully reap the benefits of digitalisation — so why is the success rate so low? 

One such answer indicates that organisations may not actually have a clear picture of exactly what a successful digital transformation looks like — let alone the objectives that accompany it.  

Vino Govender, Executive for Strategy at Dark Fibre Africa (DFA), says, “The key to defining success is having a clear picture of what it looks like in the context of both medium – and long-term business objectives. Having established this, developing a clear road map towards achieving it, along with measurable milestones, is critical”.  

To ensure you’re on the right track, here are three steps your organisation could take to execute a successful transformation: 

Step 1: Create a list of digital objectives 

Before even thinking about the plethora of digital solutions and how they could impact your organisation; analyse how your business operating model, processes and systems are working to meet your main vision. The vision should be customer centric and informed by the sustainable growth and competitive market positioning of your organisation.  

This analysis will determine the current state of your organisation while also identifying the gaps between where you are and where you want to go. With this knowledge in mind, it’ll be easier to create a prioritised list of objectives that’ll allow you to close the gaps.  

“DFA’s digitalisation objectives ranged from foundation ones such as data management and data integrity activities to more advanced initiatives including catalogue driven order management automation and AI-driven network management initiatives,” explains Vino.  

Step 2: Develop an implementation strategy  

Once your digitalisation objectives have been established, determine the kinds of digital solutions that will help you close the gaps. It’s imperative to take these solutions and form definite, realistic and measurable goals around each one. These goals will inform your roll-out strategy.  

For example, determine what solutions can be implemented straight away and which ones will need employee buy-in or assess your current budget to understand what solutions you can afford now and which ones you’ll need to save towards.  

“DFA plans to introduce more levels of automation where this is appropriate in order to meet our business objectives. In addition to this, data analytics and organisation-wide data-governance practices will remain at the top of our priority list,” continues Vino.   

Remember that your strategy needs to be flexible as trends and technology are constantly evolving — build on your goals but be ready to adapt when necessary.  

Step 3: Remember it’s about people, not just technology 

Driving digital transformation takes more than the introduction of new software or processes, it takes a complete buy-in from all the people involved — namely your employees and your consumers. Working at the people level will create a number of advocates for your organisation and allow for a smoother transformation overall.  

“From putting the customer at the centre of our transformation to taking our employees and other stakeholders along for the journey – emphasizing people empowerment and people-centred leadership” has been a key driver for DFA.   

Vino adds, “Throughout the journey, robust change management has been and will continue to be imperative. DFA is planning more awareness campaigns and training as part of a continuing commitment to putting people at the forefront of our transformation” 

In conclusion, digital transformation is critical to the longevity of an organisation in this fast-paced world — and can be successfully implemented with employee buy-in and a realistic understanding that it’s an ever-evolving solution. 

The last word of advice from Vino is to “cut your losses: during the digital transformation journey you will encounter a number of firsts and, as with any other unexplored undertaking, there are a number of risks associated with it. The worst thing you can do is to keep sinking money into what is not working.” 

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