Digital Transformation Needs to Happen Now

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According to a May report from Forrester Research, the following five signs might indicate that businesses’ digital transformation strategies are flawed:

1. The company is still doing rigorous planning for three years or more into the future. According to the report, the days of three- to five-year business road maps are over. While a long-term vision and strategy is important, trying to manage details too far into the future can hinder businesses. The report suggests that organizations not only be open to changing directions, but actually plan on changing directions based on new opportunities.

2. The company takes a Band-Aid approach to legacy systems. Businesses should not fall into the trap of trying to improve old systems via upgrades, as this strategy will not be agile enough for modern business needs and will be unable to support the sweeping changes of a digital transformation strategy.

3. The company relies on requests for proposals for strategic experience work. The report notes that RFPs are useful when companies want to compare clearly defined approaches and are focused on cost. But companies today need to work with their partners to address business goals that might not have a clear path to achievement. For this reason, businesses should not subject their vendors and partners to lengthy RFP cycles.

4. The company views outsourcing as a commodity. The report notes that as the lines between agencies, consultancies, and technology firms continue to blur, service firms of all types are competing for work. Moreover, businesses should seek out partners that take an integrated approach to creative and design, customer experience, and technology.

5. The company resists change when it comes to organizational technology, relying on the same-old trusted solutions they’ve always had as opposed to investigating the bleeding edge. This, the report says, is a low-risk, low-reward strategy not suited to digital transformation.

The report then identifies a number of priorities for companies looking to succeed in their digital transformation strategies. The first of these is an appetite for risk—even at the risk of failure—over detailed planning. The report notes that customers and competitors can both dictate new priorities, which can change at a moment’s notice. Thus, organizations should not waste time on details, such as exact dates and teaming structures, a year or more into the future. Digital transformation is the result of embracing change and constant experimentation at the moment of need, not months or years down the road.

This kind of agility demands that companies set themselves up in the cloud as the foundation of their new business models, according to the report. Forrester’s analysts maintain that cloud-based software deployments provide much greater speed and flexibility. They also suggest that businesses look into replacing major on-premises solutions in their entirety with cloud technologies and avoid add-ons that result in further fragmentation.


The next crucial element in the digital transformation race is picking the right partners. As opposed to having partners fill out long RFPs, organizations should engage partners with proofs of concept and have their appropriate personnel visit potential partners’ innovation centers and design studios to immerse themselves in the culture.

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