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The Three Pillars of a Successful Digital Transformation

By: SEI Team


Unlock the full potential of your technology with the right digital transformation strategies — SEI is here to guide you every step of the way.

Today’s business environment is more competitive than ever, meaning even the slightest advantage can make a significant difference. And in our digital age, digital transformation is a major game changer for small and large organizations alike.

When employed correctly, digital transformation strategies can increase efficiency, boost productivity, improve resource management, and raise resiliency. Digital transformation also allows an organization to respond to market demands faster, provide personalized service to customers, innovate more quickly, and ultimately remain more relevant and profitable in the long run. So, it’s hardly surprising that 74% of organizations list digital transformation as a top priority, and global digital transformation expenditure is predicted to reach $3.4 trillion by 2026

Unfortunately, just 35% of organizations’ digital transformation efforts are successful, meaning countless businesses never reap the benefits of digital transformation. That’s why having a solid strategy is essential.

To help set your organization up for success, we’re sharing the three pillars for successful digital transformation: strategic alignment, technological infrastructure, and organizational agility. By using these pillars as a framework throughout your digital transformation, you can overcome challenges and drive change more effectively.

Pillar 1: Strategic Alignment

A foundational step to any successful digital transformation strategy is aligning your digital transformation with your business goals. If you skip this step, you may spend money on technologies that don’t have a high return on investment or meet your organization’s specific needs.

On the other hand, if you carefully synchronize your digital transformation initiatives with your overarching business strategy, you can ensure that any new technology directly impacts your business goals. As a result, you can set your organization up to grow and compete.

There is no single goal of digital transformation; it is (and should be) different for each organization. Digital transformation is about automating manual hand-offs and preventing data-entry errors for some businesses. For others, their digital transformation goals are to eliminate redundant activities to save people time and boost employee morale. Some organizations may even undergo the digital transformation process to completely reinvent their operations, such as a retailer shifting from a brick-and-mortar location to an e-commerce business. That’s why it’s so important to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding the organization’s overall business strategies and how they hope digital transformation can benefit the organization.

As part of the strategic alignment process, there’s perhaps no more important first step than working closely with leadership. For example, organizations that have an actively involved Chief Digital Officer are 1.6 times more likely to have a successful digital transformation. Make sure that everyone in a leadership position is engaged in the process and agrees on the overall strategic vision. After all, digital transformation must occur on a large scale, and leadership team members are in the best position to get everyone across the organization informed and bought in. If your CEO, chief technology officer, and other C-suite leaders can’t agree, your digital transformation efforts, organizational goals, and process improvement plans may be disjointed, minimizing digital transformation’s full impact. 

Pillar 2: Technological Infrastructure

Technological infrastructure is the backbone of any digital transformation, so you must ensure your infrastructure is up to scratch. If you don’t have the right hardware, software, networks, and systems in place, you won’t be able to adapt and integrate new digital initiatives.

You’ll need to invest in scalable and flexible technologies — and one solution won’t cut it. Instead, a thoughtful combination of technologies should be used to maximize the effectiveness of your digital transformation efforts. For example, for deep insights based on data, you’ll need devices to collect data, cloud or edge computing for storage and computation, and even machine learning and artificial intelligence tools for processing and analyzing the vast amounts of data you collect.

Some technologies that can help your organization become more efficient can include: 

  • Mobile Platforms: Mobile platforms will allow your organization to reach customers and employees anytime, anywhere, enabling seamless communication, collaboration, and access to essential resources on the go.
  • 5G: 5G, the 5th generation mobile network, allows for faster connectivity speeds, lower latency, and greater bandwidth, making it possible for people to use mobile platforms anywhere.
  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence: Machine learning and artificial intelligence have come a long way and are still developing quickly. When combined with comprehensive data programs, these technologies can give your organization valuable insights that let you quickly make accurate decisions regarding sales, marketing, product development, and more.
  • Cloud Computing: Cloud computing offers elastic computation and data storage services, meaning organizations can scale resources up or down as needed and easily access applications and data remotely.
  • Edge Computing: Similarly, edge computing offers organizations additional computing power and storage which can make applications faster.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Devices: IoT devices can help your organization effortlessly collect data from devices near and far, giving you the information you need for cloud-based and edge-based data analytics and the ability to make highly informed choices.

Regardless of which technologies you adopt, you’ll need to prioritize data security and compliance. Not only do you need to meet various data protection standards imposed by governments and other regulatory authorities, but you also have a duty to maintain your customers’ and stakeholders’ trust. Forgoing robust data security and cybersecurity can result in reputational damage, financial penalties, and even legal liabilities, so investing in things like employee training, regular audits, and powerful cybersecurity solutions is vital.

The Importance of Data Management Best Practices

Proper data management is essential for all organizations, but it’s particularly important for those undergoing a digital transformation. Efficient data management can allow your organization to make the most of its assets, gain valuable insights, and improve overall performance.

If you’re looking for a good place to start, consider these best practices:

  • Establishing Strong Data Governance: Data governance involves defining policies, procedures, and roles to ensure that your data assets are effectively managed, used, and protected. When done correctly, data governance can foster accountability across your organization and set guidelines for everything from access controls to data usage.
  • Ensuring Data Quality and Accessibility: You’ll also want to put collected data through quality assurance processes like data validation and cleansing to ensure it is accurate, complete, and consistent. You should also make sure that authorized users can easily access the data. This will allow them to make fast and informed decisions.
  • Using Data Analytics For Better Decision-Making: With the help of data analytics, you can see patterns, trends, and correlations, ultimately allowing you to gain actionable insights from large amounts of data. These insights can then help you to improve everything from your processes to your strategies.
  • Creating Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans: By developing strategies to ensure high data availability and integrity in the face of natural disasters, cyber attacks, or other disruptions, you can make sure your organization can continue operating no matter what happens.
  • Investing in Data Literacy and Training Programs: It’s important that all your employees understand how to access, interpret, protect, and use data — and a thorough data literacy and training program can help you get everyone on the same page.

The Role of AI in Digital Transformation

While organizations have historically used artificial intelligence solely to automate workflows and processes, the technology’s influence is now more widespread. AI has proven to be a game-changing technology capable of reshaping business operations, innovation, and customer value, helping with everything from customer service to product development. In fact, AI is driving unprecedented levels of efficiency, agility, and competitiveness across countless industries, from healthcare to manufacturing.

These days, artificial intelligence can help organizations make more informed decisions. For example, you might use artificial intelligence-driven analytics to predict customer trends and behaviors, allowing you to make smarter, potentially more profitable decisions. Similarly, machine learning models can help you anticipate changes in the business environment, enabling you to mitigate risks, capitalize on opportunities before the competition, close your company’s value gap, and develop more proactive business strategies. Once you have a plan, you can use artificial intelligence to segment your audience, personalize your messaging, and deliver relevant content and product recommendations. This can lead to higher levels of customer engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty.

Artificial intelligence can also help you automate routine and complex operations, improving operational efficiency and agility. Through AI-powered automation, your organization can optimize workflows, minimize manual intervention, and reduce errors across various functions, from customer service (AI-powered chatbots) to manufacturing (AI-driven robots) to supply chains (AI-powered data analysis). Since AI can automate many repetitive tasks, your employees will have more time and energy to focus on creating winning strategies and pivoting when necessary.

Pillar 3: Organizational Agility

The market is changing constantly — and so are technology and digital transformation trends. If your business can rapidly adapt and respond to these dynamic changes, you can more easily leverage new opportunities and remain ahead of the curve.

Pay attention to your culture to make your organization as agile as possible. After all, you can’t achieve organizational agility if you don’t have a culture of innovation and continuous learning. Encourage your employees to think creatively, challenge the status quo, and be unafraid of exploring new ideas. This will help drive innovation, allowing you to develop groundbreaking products, services, and solutions that meet your customers’ ever-changing needs and shifting market demands.

It’s also a good idea to implement agile methodologies in your project management and development. By doing so, you can gain a more flexible approach to project execution, which can help your teams quickly adapt. Agile methodologies can also help you promote a customer-centric approach, as you can incorporate feedback from stakeholders throughout the development process.

Tackle Your Digital Transformation Confidently With SEI

Navigating the complex landscape of digital transformation is an ongoing challenge that demands continuous adaptation and strategic foresight. It’s not merely about adopting new technologies; it’s about rethinking old paradigms to unlock growth and drive innovation across your organization.

At SEI, we excel in guiding companies through the intricate process of digital transformation. Our consultants bring a wealth of experience and a proven track record in technology enablement, having collaborated with clients from various industries to develop customized, cutting-edge solutions tailored to each unique set of challenges and objectives. They are adept at identifying effective strategies and staying ahead of the curve with the latest trends in digital transformation.

Whether your goal is to refine existing processes or to introduce revolutionary new technologies, SEI’s experts are equipped to elevate your business operations and help you achieve a competitive advantage. By partnering with us, you gain access to insightful guidance and strategic support tailored to ensure your digital transformation is not just successful, but also sustainable.