8 Essential steps to digital transformation

I wish we could just call it business transformation but in the world full of buzzwords and keywords I will also call it digital transformation. Digital transformation is just a business transformation in the digital age. Some also call it digitization and digitalization (Read how they are different).

Leading Digital Transformation

  Digital transformation is less about technology but more about the transformation of business models, customer experience, employee experience and the overall business. The major success of the digital transformation projects is dependent on how well the organization adopts digital culture like Agile, Data lead decision making, failing fast, customer centricity and adoption of emerging technologies like Machine Learning, RPA and other branches of Artificial Intelligence across all departments.

The following is a framework that I have been successfully using to bring digital change for over a decade at large organizations:

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Build a guiding coalition
  3. Develop a vision & strategy
  4. Enlist a volunteer army
  5. Enable action by removing barriers
  6. Generate short term wins
  7. Sustain acceleration
  8. Institute change

Some of the key points related to digital transformation success that senior leaders like CIOs, CTO, CMOs, CDOs and most primarily the CEO should keep in mind are: 

  1. Transformation of customer and employee experience will eventually lead to big business growth in revenue, profits and retention.
  2. Think about Customer Lifecycle Experience and not just Lead to Cash
  3. Don’t limit this to just Technology Transformation like the transformation of backend systems like ERP, CRM alone. Technology transformation should enable digital technologies in every part fo the organization.
  4. You must involve experts to not just produce Digital Strategy but also the execute the transformation
  5. Pricing and servicing models must be analyzed, simplified and revamped to support transformation at scale.
  6. Business processes must be minutely looked into to make execution easier and enable continuous optimization
  7. Leading indicators on Digital Transformation should start becoming visible in 2nd year while ROI of the investment should start in 3rd year for most programs.
  8. The digital transformation that is siloed to Marketing and Sales will never lead to long term business growth
  9. Always keep Amazon effect in mind
  10. Embrace long term mindset as most digital transformations are long term projects. At any organization bigger than $1Bn in revenue I will expect this to be 3+ years of effort.

Few years ago I was introduced to John P Kotter’s book on leading change by my mentor Mr. Andy Burtis who was Mr. Kotter’s student at Harvard Business School. Since then I have adopted his format as it matches what I have been already practicing and gives a better structure to my approach. If you like reading books, I highly recommend his book “Leading Change”.  

Leading Change by John Kotter
leading change by John Kotter


Rohit is a visionary digital & marketing leader skilled at disrupting and transforming small to Fortune 500 companies. Renowned for designing and executing digital transformation that has enabled major business growth.

10 thoughts to “8 Essential steps to digital transformation”

  1. Thanks Ryan. for the clarification that the Road map strategy has to be on the overall business but the execution can be in a properly orchestrated manner, similar to what I insinuated.

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