“I, like many others, believe that digital transformation is much more than just obtaining new technologies. Technology plays naturally a fundamental role, but there is much more to it. Many other factors are equally important for the company to reach digital maturity and competitive advantage.“
We say that digitally excellent companies have digital in their strategy, personnel, and management. How can we achieve this in practice? – In my mind, enhancing the digital excellence is like climbing up the stairs. Digital excellence consists of different entities that the company can implement in suitable steps and so, piece by piece, reach the target.
One cornerstone of digital excellence is to ensure that IT and business is aligned. There is a huge difference in the outcome, depending on how IT-functions are organized in an organization. According to many studies that have been conducted during the past few decades, IT/business alignment improves financial, operational and customer satisfaction performance.
IT/business alignment is a strange and maybe slightly old fashion term, but it simply means that IT and business have a shared understanding and that the decision making, organization structure and collaboration between parties is done in such a way that IT understand business targets and business has a rough understanding of what IT can enable. In other words, there is no client – service provider set-up. Instead, there is great trust and partnership between business and IT.
For the alignment to build and grow, there need to be motivated and skillful people. Digitally excellent organizations invest in having sufficient digital talent in their workforce. To develop and hold onto that talent, it requires much more than just training, but also creating an environment where employees are eager to continuously learn and grow. In the rapidly evolving environment, work is a never-ending learning journey.
Like all changes, also digital transformation needs someone to vision and show direction. Even if all other elements would be in place, people will not obtain new practices without someone visualizing the future and persistently and consistently leading the transformation. This is something that great leadership can and need to provide.
Finally, in the endless fight of success and survival, companies need to bet on good strategy and innovation. A strategy is necessary for any company, but to achieve competitive advantage with help of digitalization, business and IT strategy should be aligned to be one. Effective digital strategies are not about implementing technologies to become more digital, but they involve identifying the opportunity for greatest business impact.