5 Steps To Audit Your Digital Transformation Efforts

Have you ever noticed that no matter much digital transformation you “do” for your company, you’re never finished? That’s because there’s no finish line in digital transformation. Every day, advancements are made in business technology, including developments specific to your industry. For this reason, it’s never safe to think of digital transformation as a one-and-done achievement. It’s something you need to continue to evaluate and invest in as time moves forward.

Revisiting your digital transformation strategy at the pace of change is unrealistic and overwhelming. However, performing a digital transformation audit as an annual task—at minimum—would be a strong choice. The following are a few tips for incorporating digital transformation audits into your current digital transformation plan.

Step 1: Accept that Digital is No Longer a Differentiator

Being on the cloud and incorporating AI into your martech campaigns is no longer enough to win in today’s business landscape. Martech alone is moving at a record pace, allowing companies to nab key customer insights in real time. If you aren’t aware of how your competitors are using this technology, you’re already falling behind. Being digital is no longer enough. You need to be digitally leading within your market or you’re already falling behind.

Step 2: Involve Your CEO

The companies that succeed in digital transformation are the ones that have the powers-that-be on their side—the ones who have strong communication skills and are able to convey why digital advancement is essential to the company and its customers. As a CIO, you will never move your company forward on your own efforts. You need the support of the CEO and other C-suite execs. The CEO especially plays a tremendous role in ensuring that digital transformation projects roll out successfully. Focus on building those relationships on an ongoing basis. After all, much like digital transformation, relationships aren’t a one-and-done either.

Step 3: Pay Attention

Yes, rolling out a new CRM or robotic process automation (RPA) platform takes a lot of effort. Once you do it, it’s natural to want to put your head down and kick the ball to the next day-to-day business goal. But in digital transformation, you need to keep your head up and pay attention to what’s happening in your industry. First off: is the tech even working how you wanted it to when you adopted it? Second, how are your competitors using it better? What could you learn from them? What are their customers demanding from them? How could you beat them to the punch? Make these questions, and others, a regular part of your digital transformation audit.

Step 4: Think Scale

Gartner reports in its 2020 CIO Agenda Survey that 40 percent of companies think they’ve reached scale with their digital initiatives (compared to 18 percent in 2018). Before you get worried that your company isn’t there yet, know this: those companies probably aren’t there yet either. Most businesses today are merely upgrading their legacy systems—not necessarily transforming their business in new and innovative ways. As you continue your digital transformation journey, think about investing in software and infrastructure that will allow your company to grow at scale. Find service providers that allow your data to plug and play with other providers and to move to new providers when necessary. Being stuck in one place with one partner isn’t conducive to ongoing transformation.

Step 5: Pivot When Needed

The thing digital transformation is teaching all of us is not to get too attached—to a business plan, new tech initiative, or even an age-old product offering. Companies today need to be able to pivot away from even the most favorite idea if the data says it won’t work, or the industry starts to move in a new direction. Your company needs to be able to recognize those pivot points, and those moments of reflection will only happen if you make a conscious effort to incorporate them into your audit strategy.

Digital transformation is happening now—and it will continue to happen—no matter how well prepared you are for it. Rather than leaving it to chance, make an effort to perform an ongoing digital transformation audit—annually at minimum—to ensure that you aren’t left completely behind.

Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.

The original version of this article was first published on Forbes.

Daniel Newman