#AIIM17: 3 steps to successful digital transformation

IT professionals are discussing the concept of digital transformation more and more, but the question is: How do we define it? And is it merely a buzzword or is it the new paradigm and standard for business in the modern world?

At the AIIM conference last week, attendees referenced this topic often. But during a roundtable I attended, they specifically discussed the topic’s true relevance.

Digital transformation is a reality. But what does that really mean?

Though the consensus in the room was a resounding “yes” to the question of the reality of digital transformation, the definition seemed to differ depending on the person – highlighting the new reality of digital transformation. It’s a changing landscape, both in business needs and technological advances.

Digital information is not digital transformation

One representative in the room brought up digitizing paper, claiming digital transformation has been around for decades and is nothing new, simply a new buzzword.

But another questioned if digitizing paper was true digital transformation. This person claimed today’s world requires digitization of entire processes, not simply the information, and digitization of information can no longer be the only focus. Concurring, another attendee highlighted that the way we communicate has far surpassed simply paper-based communication.

Because of new communication tools, information and content is now born digital, not transformed into digital, creating new problems and, in essence, a need for continued and evolved digital transformation.

The next step: Cloud and mobile

With the backdrop of understanding this continuum of digital transformation, the group discussed the competitive landscape. Specifically, an interesting observation revealed that businesses born today are born digital – with hot topics like cloud document management and mobile content management at the core of how these new businesses develop processes.

This poses a new threat for organizations still struggling with turning outdated, paper-based processes into modern, automated, completely digital functions as their new competitors avoid those struggles entirely. But don’t worry, here are some tips for success.

3 steps to successful digital transformation

Throughout the discussion, three core thoughts emerged surrounding the “how-to” of digital transformation:

1. Create a clear vision

Attendees emphasized the importance of preparing a digital transformation vision for their organizations. That includes some big questions:

  • How do you envision business changing and why implement this change?
  • How extensive could this transformation be in terms of changing job roles?
  • How extensive could this transformation be in terms of changing processes?

One attendee highlighted how important the clear vision was in discussions with the c-suite at his organization.

2. Don’t try to boil the ocean

A theme not just in this discussion but throughout the conference, attendees recommended starting small. Trying to transform everything at once can be chaotic and more disruptive than helpful.

They recommend picking a process that could quickly and easily show ROI. The initial success and tangible ROI can make the entire vision that much easier to sell to stakeholders.

3. Focus on people, speak to your audience

“People” continuously came up as the leading roadblock to successful digital transformation initiatives. But the group agreed that at the core of solving this problem was strategizing communication of the transformation.

As I stated earlier, having a clear vision that includes a cost-benefit analysis will answer some questions before stakeholders ask them, generating enthusiasm and gaining acceptance. But the attendees referenced the importance of understanding your audience.

For instance, the c-suite may be the correct audience for a high-level vision statement including examples of potential ROI within specific processes. One attendee picked a process involving a single document – a type of customer-facing form that is uniquely completed and processed over 35,000 times over the course of a year.

He estimated the cost to the organization for each time it processed that form. The math of potential savings wowed his executives. For individual employees the transformation might impact, he brought up the importance of explaining the change in their terms – highlighting that the transformation can relieve them of repeated, mundane tasks and free them for more meaningful work.

This type of transformation is meaningful both for the goals of the organization and individual career goals.

There seems to be no question digital transformation is a reality, not only involving the digitization of information, but also digitization of the entire business. With the investment and change it brings, it is critical that you create a strategy not only for the transformation itself, but for communication around it as well.

To set yourself up for long-term success, you may want to hire a Director of Digital Transformation – a new role that is surfacing in organizations around the world (including one of the attendees in the roundtable!).

Are you seeing similar trends or have you hired a digital transformation role in your organization? Continue the conversation by leaving your thoughts in the comments below!

Jaclyn Inglis Clark

Over the last few years working at Hyland, creator of OnBase, Jaclyn has definitely started to drink the Kool Aid – day and night enthusiastically discussing the wonderful benefits of... read more about: Jaclyn Inglis Clark

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