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Determining the who and why of your digital transformation

(Image credit: Shutterstock / aorpixza)

It’s no secret that Covid-19 is accelerating digital transformation faster than ever before, with worldwide spending slated to top $6.8 trillion by 2023. Even pre-pandemic, most leading businesses prioritized digital transformation to boost ROI, productivity and cut through opacity. 

However, with the sudden disruption to traditional business models, digital transformation is no longer just a driver of success, it’s necessary to survival. Unfortunately, research indicates that only *thirty percent* of companies undergo successful transformations, a bleak reality for IT leaders who spend tireless hours trying to win over C-suite executives and board members. So, what distinguishes a digital transformation from a digital disaster? 

The answer lies in effective strategic planning. In the early planning stages, too many organizations dwell on the “how” of their transformations. How will we decide which technology solutions will enable success? How will we upskill workers to maximize new investments? How will we communicate new product offerings and services to customers and prospects? While these are important considerations, they are not the first ones that need to be addressed. 

To take a strategic and effective approach to digital transformation, organizations must first ask: “Why are we undergoing this transformation?” “Who will I need to get on board with this project?” and “Who will be impacted?” “What are the benefits that will be delivered to the key stakeholders, and what method will be leveraged to measure benefits?”  To answer these questions, companies must examine their business ecosystems – made up of stakeholders (internal & external), partners, customers, products, and services – through a single, holistic lens. 

Aim for a customer-centric digital transformation

As a key determinate of success, the customer is perhaps the most important factor to consider in any digital transformation. In fact, forty percent of digital decision-makers state that customer experience is the number one priority motivating their digital transformation journey.

Ask yourself, “How will digital transformation impact my customer base?” Answering this question is essential to building a robust, customer-centric digital transformation strategy. 

Digital transformation is widely recognized as an opportunity to unlock unparalleled customer experience and build stronger customer relationships, so the need to transform will likely be easier to communicate to customers than other entities in your business ecosystem. However, it’s important to consider how these changes will impact future customers too. Fortunately, the increased speed, efficiency, and agility that comes with digital transformation will give your organization a competitive edge and provide major advantages when breaking into new markets and industry verticals. 

Accelerate buy-in

Key stakeholders can shut down a digital transformation project before it even gets off the ground, so, you’ll need to work overtime to gain their stamp of approval. Project leaders must be prepared to clearly explain to the C-suite how the transformation will benefit the organization and help them remain ahead of the competition. Unfortunately, achieving buy-in will be even trickier in a fully remote setting.  

Before you (virtually) go in front of your board of investors and skeptical C-suite colleagues, you must strategize why they should want to take on this project and remind yourself of the advantages that digital transformation presents. Then, you’ll need to deliver a comprehensive plan that is tailor-made to your organization and considers every entity in your business ecosystem. Some critical elements to hit on are increased productivity, ROI and, as mentioned, bolstered customer experience and the opportunity to expand to new customers. 

Identifying the value of digital disruption for the disrupted 

Employees make up a critical entity in your core business ecosystem, so you must consider how they’ll be impacted as well. Because digital transformation can be a full-scale disruption to your operations, ultimately, they’ll witness the changes the most. They’re the ones interacting with the new technologies in their day-to-day roles, and they will need the training to leverage the digital solutions and new processes effectively. 

Though digital transformation will alter how your workforce operates forever, ultimately, the list of benefits for employees far outweigh the burdens of upskilling. When developing your strategy, consider what aspects of the project will excite your workers. 

Example? Increased productivity and efficiency will make their jobs easier and more meaningful and eliminate time spent carrying out menial tasks. Plus, the professional development opportunities are endless. Learning how to use and interact with new technologies will drastically grow your employees’ skillsets and help them stay relevant in the ever-evolving world of business. Plus, perspective employees will be eager to join a forward-thinking company that’s committed to staying on the cutting edge of technology. In parallel, the increased ROI promised by an effective digital transformation will allow you to hire more talent and expand your team significantly. 

Partnering up for digital success

Partners play a vital role in your business ecosystem and your overall digital transformation journey. Digital business is accelerating at unprecedented rates and teaming up with other companies is imperative to avoid becoming obsolete – less about ego-systems and more about ecosystems. Luckily, harnessing innovation effectively is a less daunting task when organizations work together to deliver value by sharing resources and expertise.  

However, with strategic partnerships comes interdependence, consequently, the risks and benefits of your digital transformation are also shared with every partner in your ecosystem. 

Reflect on the opportunities that will come with your transformation and strategize how to express these to partner enterprises. 

A truly successful digital transformation will improve your partners’ bottom-line as much as it benefits yours. If you operate in a well-formed business ecosystem, your partners can leverage your new digital capabilities for expansion, and together you can team up to take on larger, more established corporations, even as small enterprises. 


From assessing your digital maturity model with key stakeholders to evaluating customer journeys, there are a lot of elements to consider in digital transformation. Focusing on the “why” and “who” of your digital journey will help you identify key aspects of a foolproof digital transformation strategy.

Assessing your business ecosystem and the entities that operate in it is an excellent starting point. Just be ready to explain your “why” at the next virtual board meeting, client call, or internal check-in.

Kevin McCaffrey, CEO, Tr3Dent (opens in new tab)

Kevin McCaffrey is the CEO of Tr3Dent. A serial entrepreneur, McCaffrey is mission-focused on enabling enterprises to develop the complex ecosystems and business models required to deliver new digital services.