Digital transformation is imperative for companies today. Those that fail to evolve will quickly fall behind their competitors, as consumers and organizations increasingly demand easier and more efficient ways to conduct business.
However, digital transformation is an often-used term that’s also often misunderstood. True transformation is about more than just creating a mobile app or enhancing the digital experience for your customers—although those are steps in the right direction. The evolution to a more digital approach to business should involve a company-wide shift to focusing not on products but customer outcomes.
When completed effectively, digital transformation can provide your business with many important benefits, including:
So, digital transformation is a critically important but complex and challenging process. Consequently, it’s vital to choose the right digital transformation partner. Select the wrong provider and any number of issues may arise, from projects that don’t meet your requirements and expectations, to having to make a mid-transformation change when the company reluctantly acknowledges it doesn’t have the skills to get you where you want to go.
But how do you know whether you’re choosing a digital transformation partner that can drive the type of change you need? Fortunately, there’s a set of attributes you can look for in a strategic partner that will tell you if they’re the right organization for your transformation initiative. If they have these qualities and characteristics, you can be confident that your collaboration with them will be positive and productive.
Your Digital Transformation Foundation: Assess Your Internal Resources
It’s not uncommon for companies that are preparing to execute a digital transformation strategy to overlook their internal resources and dive right into their search for a third-party provider. That outside digital transformation expertise may be central to your success, but if you have in-house skills and knowledge that can support the effort, you certainly should capitalize on them.
In fact, if your company is strong enough in a particular area, the availability of that skill set may mean that your digital strategy partner doesn’t need to have it—or, at a minimum, doesn’t need as high a level of proficiency as might otherwise be required. Ultimately, anything you can do internally to help move a digital transformation project forward is a good thing.
Finding the Ideal Provider to Lead Your Digital Metamorphosis
As you search for a digital transformation partner, here are five must-have attributes:
- Deep expertise. Being familiar with the technical areas that are important to you isn’t enough. The provider you select should have in-depth knowledge of the challenges you’ll face in your transformation—both those posed by your old systems and your new solutions—and how to overcome them.
- Track record of success. There’s a distinct difference between knowing how to do something and doing it. Your digital transformation partner must be able to demonstrate real-world successes, ideally in the areas of expertise for which you’re turning to them.
- Commitment to clear communication. How does the provider propose keeping everyone “on the same page” throughout your digital transformation initiative? Regular project team meetings? One-on-ones with your project point person? Weekly status reports? All these and other methods? You should find out before you commit to working with them. Failure to communicate effectively is a leading cause of projects getting off track or missing the target completely.
- Collaborative approach and well-defined project management methodology. Successful transformation virtually always requires input from multiple parties, both internal and external. Your transformation partner should provide input, of course, but must also be receptive to it. Willingness to collaborate isn’t a sign that the provider is lacking insights or unable to come up with an effective transformation strategy on their own. On the contrary, it’s an indicator that their focus is on your success in this engagement not their own. Also, it should be clear how the project will be managed and what each participant is responsible for.
- Exceptional post-launch support. Problems are common even in the most carefully planned and executed digital transformations. The key is working with a partner that stands ready to address them promptly and fully. Attentive support after the launch of apps, new digital experiences, etc. is crucial.
Cultivate a Digital Transformation Ecosystem
While working with a digital transformation partner that can provide all the services you need is ideal, your requirements may be so diverse that you require multiple partners. That’s particularly common with enterprise-level organizations.
Leveraging the capabilities of different service providers for different focus areas and cultivating a digital transformation ecosystem gives you the flexibility to work with best-in-class partners on the different aspects of your transformation and also to shift responsibilities if a partner isn’t delivering as promised. Plus, it’s likely that you’ll find that working within this type of environment enables you to see your challenges from multiple perspectives and, as a result, come up with the best solutions.
Measuring Your Digital Transformation Results
Choosing the right digital transformation partner for your project should be your top priority. But a close second place is being able to assess the outcome of their work and its value to your organization.
Making that determination actually starts before the project begins. To measure the effectiveness of your digital transformation initiative accurately, you have to know where things stand today on whatever metrics you deem to be most important. Taking the time to collect that data before your digital evolution begins is vital.
Once you have baseline data, you can use it to gauge your improvement. And that improvement data can then be used to fine-tune the solutions you’ve developed and implemented. The most effective digital transformations are iterative processes.
A Final Important Digital Transformation Partner Attribute: Transparency
Your digital transformation partner shouldn’t rely on some proprietary “secret sauce” to produce the results you’re looking for. As you’re talking with providers, they should be very willing to explain the results they can deliver for you and also how they’ll deliver them.
Similarly, it’s to your advantage to work with a provider that uses best-in-class, open-source and SaaS tools to deliver solutions that your team—or anyone with solid technical skills—can maintain. You don’t want a “bespoke solution” that can only be understood and modified by the partner that created it. That’s good for their bottom line, but not necessarily yours.
At MarkedQuery, we’re very open and honest when it comes to discussing transformation objectives and the path we’ll take to achieve them. If you’re looking for a skilled and experienced collaborator for your digital transformation project, we’d be happy to tell you about our background and talk with you about the kind of assistance you’ll need.