How to start the digital transformation initiative?

14194296290_b87c286cb2_kComplementary to my last post on the urgency to refocus the discussions around “Social” and “Enterprise 2.0” I would like to add some thoughts on the “how-to” for starting the digital transformation initiative. Again to make it clear – the general consensus about the digital transformation is not to implement some “fancy” new technologies or to use social media as a new marketing channel. The digital transformation is about re-adjusting the corporate thinking towards a culture of digital DNA. In this I follow the nice definition of R. “Ray” Wang on the “digital transformation”:

“Digital Transformation is the methodology in which organizations transform and create new business models and culture with digital technologies.”

Infuse digital artistry into organizations

In a post last year Ray Wang has defined seven key rules to succeed in the digital transformation. His argumentation follows a “market potential perspective” in which he sees the key potentials for further business development in the values generated from digital disruption. For this he states enterprises need to find new digital business models, approach markets according a digital proficiency segmentation of customers & workers and to understand generated data form digital interactions as foundation of digital business. For this he closes: “Concurrently, a market will develop for those who can spread the digital business gospel and infuse digital artistry into organizations.” (Source)

In another post from June last year Ray Wang published a nice illustrations of the five steps for the start of the digital initiative that outlines that the digital transformation is about the re-adjustment of thinking within the organization:

Ray Wang’s Five Steps To Digital Transformation Success

Improve business decisions from the social context

All of the digital transformation experts from Constellation Research’s Ray Wang to Ex-Altimeter Group’s Jeremiah Owyang or the people of McKinsey or CapGemini see one of the key traits of “digital profiency” in using digital data and insights a “foundation for digital business” decisions. But relying only on the hard data from transactions will not be enough for this, to gather the context digital leaders like Burburry have fostered the exploration of the insights gathered around social interactions and social connectivity.

Therefore enterprises need vivid customer and employee communities to better understand the context of business decisions. Social collaboration is therefore – once more – not only “gimmick” of “social activist” but an indispensable prerequisite for effective decision making for digital leaders.

Certainly the decision-orientated exploration of this data is another requirement – but first you need the data and then you have to generate valuable insights from it.

Explore the value of the digital ecosystem

A better understanding of the digital context will also led to the fifth step of Ray Wang’s approach – the “co-creation and co-innovation with new partners”. Or as our all-time E20S fellow Dion Hinchcliffe has emphasized already in an 2012 written post – digital leadership is characterized by the understanding of the “dynamism and value inherent in (business) relationships”. He has therefore defined the “thinking in terms of ecosystems” at the heart of the digital transformation.

Dion Hinchliffe’s Creating the Sustainable Digital Busines (Source: CMS WIRE)

The immanent support for exploration of a networked ecosystem is another key aspect of “social technology” and therefore brings another good reason to push on the social adoption platform when it comes to the digital transformation.

So even if the experts in the field of digital transformation are not talking about “social” anymore – the establishment of a social platform within the organization is an important building block for the digital transformation initiative – as it provides an effective support for digital transformation strategy.

And how you can sucessfully establish a social platform in your company – you can learn at – yes, you know it! – at the Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT / Paris!