When organizations undertake digital transformation (DX) projects, they are embracing a world of hope and worry. Hope for the future innovation and growth digitalization will bring. Worry because BCG research shows that the vast majority of DX initiatives (70%!!) fail.
Even still, the risks of failure aren’t deterring companies from investing in digital transformation, either. According to Statista, worldwide spending on DX will reach 2.8 trillion USD by the year 2025. Many, many organizations are investing in digital transformation because they can’t afford not to.
What Is Digital Transformation Anyway?
Digital transformation (DX) is when an organization deploys new, digital technologies, typically focused on one of the following areas:
- Customer experience: This is when you digitalize customer-facing processes. For example, a fast food chain adopts self-service kiosks when previously customers would interact directly with a human cashier.
- Internal operations and processes: This usually involves your organization transforming or automating internal processes for better efficiency and efficacy. For example, an engineering firm that used to use manual spreadsheets for project management, might now use advanced tools that allow employees to share, update, and collaborate with their peers much quicker and more effectively in the cloud.
- Business models: This typically involves augmenting your existing offerings with digital technologies. For example, in recent years many financial institutions have expanded their in-person customer service offerings to the web, developing online portals and mobile apps.
- New products: Organizations are even using new technologies to offer new products and services. For example, an HVAC company could use new technology to collect and analyze data on air quality for its clients and then sell the insights to help clients improve air quality, reduce the spread of infectious diseases, and make their buildings more energy efficient.
Why Do Well-executed Digital Transformations Matter So Much?
In a world where everyone is embarking on some kind of digital transformation journey with a failure rate of 70% or more, success in this arena will put you in an elite cadre of organizations.
How do you stand to benefit? Successful digital transformation projects have the potential to produce long-term gains in growth and productivity by facilitating improvements in efficiency, customer experience, employee experience, and creating new revenue streams. When your organization gets digital transformation right, you are strengthening your place in the market and heading off the competition and potential disruptors.
Successful Digital Transformation Projects Need the Right Talent
While there are many key success factors for digital transformation, one of the most important is having the right talent in place. According to BCG, “deploying high caliber talent” is one of six proven principles for success in digital transformation.
Here’s how to make sure you have high quality talent on tap for your digital transformation:
1. Quantify your talent needs.
For any major digital transformation effort of this magnitude, it’s an obvious but critical step to map out the skills and expertise needed to be successful. Work with department heads and your external network of experts (consultants, staffing partners, etc.) to get realistic estimates of who you will need and when.
2. Identify and rank order your skills gaps.
Now that you have a good understanding of who and what you will need, it’s time to compare that to your current supply of IT talent and identify any skill gaps that could hamper your ability to execute your plan. Remember, not all gaps are created equally. Don’t forget to consider how important different skills are to your success. For example, skill A might be helpful but not critical to your project’s success while a shortage of skill B could derail your plans for months.
3. Work with staffing partners to find the right mix of talent.
In large, complicated projects of this nature, you might need to tap into a wide variety of talent to get the job done. However, it's unlikely that all the talent needed for a specific project will be needed for the entire life of your digital transformation journey. At one stage for example, you might need an entire team of data architects, but you might only need one architect to support the system that team creates long-term. Finding the right mix of contractors, consultants, and full-time employees is essential to keeping your project on-schedule and under budget.
4. Adopt an agile posture.
Remember these words: nothing goes exactly as planned. There are a million ways your digital transformation project can be delayed, side-tracked, and stymied: people quit, tasks take longer than expected, requirements change. You can’t plan for every possible complication. Instead, you should maintain a staffing posture that is ready to respond quickly and nimbly to changes as they happen. Consider having a “rapid response team” of project stakeholders, advisors, and external partners to discuss how to best respond and pivot when things appear to be going sideways.
The Right Talent Strategy is Crucial to Your Digital Transformation
Successful digital transformations are no small feat, and talent is a critical success factor. But making sure you have the right people in the right place at the right time is rarely simple or easy. Effective organizations know how to identify and prioritize their IT talent gaps for a digital transformation. Don’t let a lack of talent slow down or derail your next phase of your company’s digital transformation journey.
If you have questions about how to staff your digital transformation or want to talk more broadly about IT talent strategy, reach out to our team.