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Digital Transformation How-To Guide #4: Where to Start

Author by Bill Topel

 Author’s note: Having looked, in this series of posts, at what Digital Transformation is and several of its challenges at both the organizational and societal levels, we now take a look at where a particular organization should start.

Also see the previous posts in this series:

DT4.jpgWhere to start with Digital Transformation is probably the largest area where companies differ in opinion and direction. A Digital Transformation strategy has to be obtainable:

We have all been part of huge projects that equate to boiling the ocean, and the reality is that they never get done. But with a topic as large as Digital Transformation, you need to tackle a big enough initial project to make it worthwhile. That initial project needs to accomplish something timely and lead to follow-up waves of additional activities and results.

Since coming out of the recession in 2009, most companies have already gone through the cost-cutting, cost-saving exercises. They have consolidated platforms, rationalized the software portfolio, eliminated unused applications, reduced staff or out-sourced / off-shored functions. Companies today are at a point where they are running about as lean as they can. So the Digital Transformation strategy needs to focus on:

  • How can we invest in the future to make us more competitive and sustainable?
  • What can we invest in that will insure top line revenue growth?
  • How can we leverage the Digital era to reach more customers?
  • What can we do to more effectively build new products and channels?
  • How can we build a better workplace for employees?

As referenced earlier in this series, technology is expanding at an accelerated pace. The more expansion there is, the faster the expansion is happening. This expansion is partially based on the fact that we are not always starting with new technologies or platforms. There is a constant recombination effort underway where we are looking at combining previously created solutions, in new ways, to create new results. The Waze navigation application is a perfect example of that. Phone-based navigation solutions were not a new idea when the Waze team created their application. Mapping solutions already allowed people to select a destination and get a map—but what was different is that Waze was able to combine a mapping application with real-time traffic inputs to determine the fast route based on current conditions. The application combined existing capabilities to create a new result. The new results allowed new ways of looking at Navigation and Mapping applications.


When looking at where to start a Digital Transformation journey, a clear set of goals needs to be created and agreed upon. As previously mentioned, Digital Transformation can and should affect everyone, so everyone needs to be onboard and understand where a company is going and how/when they plan on getting there.

Key aspects of the business need to be reviewed to determine where opportunities exist to improve design, integration, production, customer experience and information technology. Key questions should be asked to determine what capabilities exist today and what capabilities are required for tomorrow. When asking these questions, don’t focus only on today’s limitations and competitors—ask yourself, “If I could offer a customer or service to my market with anything, what would that be?” Once you have an overview or road map, begin detailing out what you need to change or implement to accomplish your goals. Think big, don’t think short-term: while the journey will take you years into the future, the plan will be full of milestones where benefits can be recognized and course corrections can be made.

This blog series is not intended to address any one industry’s or company’s challenge but to be a general guide offering up suggestions and ideas. That said, ambitions for a Digital Strategy should be bold. There is no place for mediocrity. If you don’t think about dramatic impact, someone else will and that may spell the end for your business. Questions to ask yourself:

  • If every experience were digital, what could you offer your customers?
  • If every touch were automated, what could you offer your employees?
  • Who are the market leaders and what do they deliver?
  • What are the true goals for your customers?
  • What examples from other industries apply to yours?
  • How do other industries service customers and can you apply that to yours?

Once your goals are clear, you can begin to build plans that prioritize outcomes—and these outcomes will ultimately become projects.  So whether you start with Cloud Data Center and focus on scalability, identity management and storage, Modern Applications for IoT and Mixed Reality, Analytics & Data to help you measure and consume data better, Customer Engagement for customer-experience-type applications that strike better relationships with clients for improved collaboration, or new Modern IT Management structures that provides Agility, Security and Governance…start somewhere and get moving, as your competitors certainly are.


In the next post, we’ll look at how Digital maturity is driving more and more companies to look at IT (Information Technology) and how it aligns with and drives OT (Operational Technology). To evaluate Digital Transformation maturity, start by reviewing which areas of transformation will have the biggest impact for the organization easy to say, hard to do.


Bill Topel

Bill Topel is Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Concurrency. Responsible for defining the strategic direction and operational management for Marketing and Sales.