Digital transformation has been a buzzword for more than a decade at this point, yet what it actually is and why it’s important remains a mystery for many. In part, that may be because the term itself is somewhat misleading: The goal of digital transformation, after all, isn’t simply shifting an organization from some pre-digital as-is state (which doesn’t accurately characterize any functioning business nowadays) to some fully digital, or even post-digital, to-be state. Instead, it’s about creating bottom-line value. Whether that’s done by increasing operating efficiency, digitizing processes or enabling your company to launch new products and services, digital transformation is ultimately a way of positioning your organization to more effectively pivot and adapt on the road ahead.

And the metaphor of driving is an appropriate one — it’s why referring to digital transformation as a “journey,” however cliche that may be, remains the most accurate description. But the challenge is that too many organizational leaders seem to lose sight of mileage, road signs and key checkpoints along the way.

Take the findings of one recent Deloitte survey, for example: Nearly nine out of 10 CEOs reported that they had “accelerated” the digital transformations of their companies during the pandemic. Asked what that meant specifically, however, most of them couldn’t articulate how the investment laddered up to their bigger-picture business strategies, nor pinpoint clear-cut instances of progress being made beyond those investments themselves — as if investing in tech somehow became the ends, instead of the means.

In absolute terms, of course, the landscape-scale disruption wrought by COVID-19 has massively expedited the adoption of digital technologies across the workforce — perhaps even by several years, according to some analysts. Yet all too many companies are still struggling to achieve buy-in and adoption from customers and employees alike, with the result that digital transformation projects are often mired by waste, inefficiency and lower-than-expected ROI. Today, as the competitive landscape continues to change so fast, what can organizational leaders do to drive better outcomes?

The answer starts with rethinking not only how you’re bringing digital transformation to life, but what you’re prioritizing as you do so.

two female colleagues working on their laptop
two female colleagues working on their laptop

evangelize transparency

Transformation implies change, obviously. So what happens when that change comes veiled in secrecy? Well, it’s a lot harder to secure buy-in from the outset, simply for starters. Plus, your digital transformation initiatives are also much more likely to meet with resistance later on, particularly when it comes to adoption.

That’s part of the reason transparency is a factor that so often influences the success of digital transformation efforts, and it starts with effective outreach and communication. For example:

  • Do employees across your organization truly understand why the transformation is happening in the first place?
  • Do they have clear expectations about the timeline for execution?
  • Are they aware of the extent to which their own roles may be affected in the near term as well as in the future?

Taking the lead with these and related outreach efforts is among the most vital responsibilities of C-suite leaders in driving digital transformation, because the benefits go way deeper than obstacles around adoption.

Consider the ways in which transparency and accountability are linked, for example. In fact, you might even define accountability as a condition made possible by transparency — because it certainly is not possible without it. And without the expectation of accountability, your ROI is bound to suffer.

With all of that in mind, you’ll need to not only take the lead on communication efforts but implement guidelines to foster transparency across all levels of your organization. This is necessary prep work in advance of any digital transformation initiative, and it should start with all-important C-suite conversations. Otherwise, lacking a clear view into how processes work (approvals, for example), or who’s driving the initiative forward at each stage, you aren’t going to realize the full value of your investment.

get everyone on the same page

If every member of your C-suite is creating their own domain-specific digital road map, you aren’t going to get very far. In fact, the odds are good that you’ll wind up duplicating efforts, and thereby squandering budget. Six months down the line, expect to find yourself with a handful of digital pilot projects just getting off the ground — and little else to show for it.

To avoid that, your chief executive will need to work closely and collaboratively with the rest of the C-suite team to identify key challenges, pinpoint opportunities and ultimately get everyone on the same page, with the same priorities and expectations.

Equally critical, at this juncture: Developing talent and capability road maps that are as detailed and carefully planned as your technology road map. Otherwise, instead of unlocking growth opportunities, what you’re actually doing is exposing critical fault lines within your organization. This is an area where strategic partners can contribute a lot of value.

digital transformation: the tech and talent continuum

digital transformation
digital transformation

the role of strategic partners in advancing digital transformations

Successfully leading digital transformation efforts is a whole lot easier when you can leverage the resources and expertise of a team that understands the nuances of your journey from end to end. How many organizations can say that they have that level of expertise in house and at the ready?

Not very many.

With that in mind, here are three ways that strategic partners like Tatum help unlock the value of digital transformations for companies today.

1. leveraging end-to-end expertise

When you’re planning for or leading a large-scale digital transformation, it’s going to be a heavy lift, needless to say, and one which comes with unique challenges. For starters, with so many moving pieces in play, it’s relatively easy for C-suite executives, even when they’re working closely with human capital leaders, to overlook emerging talent gaps and similar obstacles. It’s a common hazard, as HR teams don’t always understand the breadth or scope of the long-range business vision.

Especially in that context, working with a strategic partner to align your digital transformation with your human capital strategy is a value-adding move. From identifying future-looking skill sets to rolling out best-in-class upskilling and reskilling programs, partners like Tatum can lighten the load for organizational leaders — and ensure that their businesses move forward in a way aligns with the broader strategy as well.

2. arming you with market intelligence and insights

If you’re trying to successfully navigate change while hiring and onboarding a highly experienced CFO, time is obviously going to be of the essence. You need a trusted partner you can turn to for deep insights into the dynamics of the hiring market — for example, candidate availability, fluctuations in your local market, salary and compensation expectations and more.

At Tatum, we can deliver all of that in spades. Plus, with our deep bench of experienced executives, unmatched talent pipeline and flexible delivery models, we can bring you top-tier candidates far faster than you would be able to on your own. Over the short- and long-term, that’s going to save you both time and money.

3. delivering on diversity and inclusion goals

At this point, two things about diversity and inclusion are being acknowledged by companies across virtually every sector: first, that more diverse workforces translate to better bottom-line outcomes, and second, that they need to make significant near-term headway in this regard.

Yet it remains an ongoing challenge, because the majority of inhouse HR teams lack the resources, pipelines and bandwidth to truly move the needle — and for that matter, many organizations don’t even know where to start. But at a moment when, for example, roughly three out of four women in finance say unfair prejudices or biases towards women have negatively influenced their performance assessments, what’s clear is that this has to change, and fast.

But how?

It’s another area where strategic partners like Tatum contribute value. We’re regularly tapped by industry leaders to compile curated shortlists of experienced executive leaders on tight timelines. As a result, no matter where you are in your diversity and inclusion hiring journey today, we can help you overcome your existing challenges — and ensure that you progress to the next stage, as well.

next steps

The bottom line? Human capital requires the same level of care and planning as your overall digital transformation strategy — from the outset, in fact, these two things shouldn’t be treated as discrete agenda items. They’re critically linked, and strategic partners can step in to make sure they’re aligned.

So when you’re ready to bring to life meaningful, enduring and above all value-oriented digital transformation initiatives at your organization, get in touch with the experts at Tatum to learn how we can add value.

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