The journey to digital maturity, through digital transformation

By Louise O’Conor, Partner at Digital Transformation consulting firm, Beta Digital.

Source: iStock

How many times a day do you pick up your phone to research, buy, book, compare or just browse for something? Your search presents endless pages of possible results of which you rarely scroll past the second page – that’s how impatient we’ve become in the digital age.

Now, think about how many times you think you find what you’re looking for, get that instant surge of excitement, click on the link only to discover that it’s not what you were looking for at all, or they don’t have the size, colour, availability, the page isn’t optimised for mobile checkout, the form takes longer than you have to complete it, the chat bot is offline and the phone number rings out.

If you do succeed in completing your action, how often has your ticket/ product arrived late, or the wrong booking/ size is sent, it’s damaged or it doesn’t come at all. Frustrated, you pick up your phone to make a complaint only to find that the person at the end of the line can’t find your order, isn’t authorised to help or doesn’t really care.

In the next few seconds, your emotions fluctuate from disappointment to frustration, and even possibly anger. The result? You promise never to deal with that company/ brand again.

You may feel so frustrated that you decide to share your experience to ensure no-one else has to experience it. You immediately open your preferred social channel to vent your frustration to the world and warn others to avoid it like the plague. That’s all it takes. That company/ brand’s reputation is instantly at risk.

At this point, if the company is quick enough, they can still recover by publicly answering with an apology, a promise of reimbursement/ replacement, and a voucher for your next visit. Great, your frustration is quenched and you’re satisfied – for now.

However, if the company doesn’t act fast enough and then receives other similar complaints.. It could be game over – the company is at risk of becoming extinct like so many other brands we’ve seen – just ask Blockbuster or Thomas Cook.

That’s the speed of the digital world in which we live.

It’s happening faster than anyone could have imagined, and faster than businesses are able to adapt. But adapt they must. Having a sustainable and viable strategy is the only way companies will survive and compete in the current digital and customer-driven landscape.

Digital Maturity – Your Starting Point

Understanding what this all means for businesses and how to implement it, can be daunting and is the challenge most leaders are facing today.

Establishing a starting point is key. It requires an honest assessment of where your company currently is in its digital maturity and how it can be improved.

So what is Digital Maturity? How can you measure it?

Maturity is a gradual process that unfolds over time. Children don’t grow up overnight or instinctively know what they might become. They adapt as they mature. The same applies for organisations.

Digital maturity is the process of your company learning how to adapt and respond appropriately to the emerging digital competitive environment and having an aligned approach to understanding your customers, people, process and only then, adopting the right technology to enable it.

Undertaking a digital maturity assessment for your company can help identify your starting point. Most tools include different assessment criteria to measure aspects such as culture, attitude, technology infrastructure, operating models, processes, strategy, customers and delivery of services/ products.

Establishing your company’s digital maturity will determine where you are in your digital transformation journey, and based on this information, enables you to set short-term and long-term goals which will serve as a roadmap through your transformation.

Digital Transformation – The Journey

Just as the Industrial Revolution changed societies and altered the work people did, the Digital Revolution has similarly changed how people communicate, shop, work and live. Digital transformation enables companies to adapt and embrace this change in order to survive.

But what is Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation, in its simplest form, is a business decision and strategy to adapt, align and innovate an existing business to meet changing business, digital, customer and market requirements.

Depending on your digital maturity, it will involve adapting your strategy, processes, culture, data, operating and business models, talent and customer experience, all enabled by digital technologies.

Change cannot be achieved overnight. It is a journey and can be implemented incrementally alongside business-as-usual activities.

What will it actually require?

Before proceeding on any type of journey, it is important to be prepared. Here are a few essential digital transformation requirements:

  • Leadership and Commitment

Digital maturity doesn’t develop accidentally, nor is it the result of a quick fix. It is a continuous and ongoing process of adaptation to a changing digital landscape, and requires long-term vision, commitment and leadership.

  • Strategy

Strategy is the strongest differentiator of digitally maturing companies. Digital should not simply be an add-on to existing processes and practices; it needs to be embedded in the foundations of everything you do.

  • A Change of Mindset

Digital maturity requires looking at old problems and processes through new eyes and approaching them in new ways. Leaders must help to cultivate a digital mindset by encouraging a culture of experimentation and enabling people throughout the organisation to both challenge and improve upon best practices.

  • Stronger Culture

Many people fear change. But with change, comes the opportunity for unity and alignment. Digital Transformation develops a stronger company culture, allowing for a successful and confident transition, provided there’s strong communication and leadership.

  • Consolidation of Operating Models and Processes

Companies undergoing digital transformation often find that their operating models and processes, that served them well in the past, have now become a barrier. Consolidating and improving company processes and operations enables a business to become more agile and ready to respond to their target audience faster and more efficiently.

In today’s era of volatility, there is no other way but to re-invent. The only sustainable advantage you can have over others is agility, that’s it. Because nothing else is sustainable, everything else you create, somebody else will replicate.

Jeff Bezos, Founder, Amazon

  • Organisational Structure and Skills

Digitally mature companies are less likely to rely on hierarchical management structures to make decisions. However, many companies struggle to develop talent with the necessary skills to enable their digital ambitions. Using flexible talent models and third party insights can significantly help create an environment where employees are eager to continuously learn, gain digital experiences, and grow.

What can all of this do for my business?

For businesses that truly embrace the journey to digital maturity, through digital transformation, will reap the benefits of:

  • Improved customer experience, engagement and retention
  • Increased employee engagement and collaboration
  • Stronger company culture and transparency
  • Updated skilled workforce
  • Improved data-based insights and decisions
  • Increased operational efficiency
  • Financial and competitive growth (Here are 7 brilliant examples of how investing in digital transformation can make a large financial impact over time)
  • Greater strategic resilience to a rapidly changing world

Sounds good – but is it too late for my business?

It is never too late to start becoming more digitally mature, and the process is never complete.

The mindset of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” will no longer suffice. Companies who wait until their current ways “break” may not survive. Even those on top must be ready to adapt and innovate.

As businesses undergo digital transformation they implement new ways to solve traditional business problems. These digitised strategies and new business models open up the potential for new streams of income, new partnerships, and a broader reach for growth.

There will always be new competition, new tools, and new trends. With that, customers will demand more, wanting it faster and better than before. Whatever a company’s vision for the future, it must include digital transformation in order to survive and compete in this digital and customer-driven world.

Want to learn more about Digital Transformation, why businesses need it and how to go about implementing it? Register for our breakfast seminar “Leading Digital Transformation” on Wednesday 12th February. In this free session, Louise O’Conor will provide insights and real world examples of companies who have undertaken digital transformation initiatives, the challenges they faced, the financial benefits and growth they experienced, and the importance of leadership and frameworks in the process to ensure success.

About the author

Louise is a strategic and innovative leader with 20 years international experience digitally transforming and scaling businesses (startups, SMEs, multinationals) across global markets and multiple industries.

Louise is a partner at Beta Digital – a specialised Digital Transformation consulting firm, delivering winning transformation and business strategies for companies of all sizes looking to adapt, grow and compete, through strategy, digital and transformation.


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