Today, every industry is facing the digital transformation challenge. Cost, complexity, and technology remain obstacles for many. In fact, according to Forrester, some 47 percent of companies still do not have a digital transformation strategy.1

Below is a Q&A with Jay Edmundson, vice president of advanced technology solutions at CenturyLink Business, discussing the hurdles holding companies back when building their digital strategies and how they can best move forward. In the Q&A, Jay draws on his 20 years of experience with a range of Fortune 100 companies to offer real-world tips for enterprises looking seize the opportunities made possible by today’s digital transformation                                                                               

Q: In your interactions with IT leaders what recommendations do you have to help organizations with their digital transformation efforts? 

A: When I am speaking with IT leaders, I recommend that they first develop their own digital business strategy and take the time to understand the potential business, technology and cultural impacts that the strategy will have on their organization. Providing clarity on the strategy in the early stages is really important for success. Employees are more apt to buy into and support a strategy that they understand the goals for.

I also try to stress to IT leaders that it is imperative to effectively communicate the transformational messages both internally and externally throughout the entire effort. This helps CIOs and IT professionals gain perspective beyond traditional IT boundaries and connect with other drivers in the company. These drivers could include focusing on revenue growth instead of just concentrating on the enterprise demands to control costs or deliver services more quickly. These are the internal shifts we need to explore within the enterprise to begin to see transformation within the business and culture.

As they build out their strategy, I encourage them to check with their constituents inside the business and repeatedly test those thoughts and plans. Make sure that the constituents understand the potential impact specific to their area of the business. It’s a great way to validate that your broad digital transformation strategy is delivering on the intended objectives.

Q: What do you see as the most common misconceptions that organizations have about digital transformation?

A: I see many misconceptions, especially at the CxO level. They perceive digital transformation as a really expansive and complex planning effort. In their minds, that could encompass numerous objectives and potentially large financial investments. But realistically many, if not most, of our clients are willing to adapt their thinking and are able to see that breaking down their strategy into smaller initiatives contributes to achieving their objectives. This should include testing the initiatives to see if they achieve the sought-after results and even abandoning projects quickly if they don’t deliver so they can move on to the next idea. In many of these cases, focusing on specific and measurable priorities will allow them to achieve fast results.

Q: How do you address the above misconceptions?

A: Many companies state that they don’t have a formal digital transformation strategy. There are really two ways that I’ve seen CenturyLink help companies develop their own unique approach to transformation. We talked about the first approach earlier: developing your own strategy and executing IT and cultural initiatives toward success. Another approach is to look at your business today. Understand that many efforts around things like improving speed to market, modernizing your IT infrastructure, journey to cloud or enhancing customer experience currently exist — these are transformational initiatives. So, although companies may think they are behind because they don’t have a formal strategy, many are already taking steps towards transformation. Many times, the examples above are simply not tied back to a larger company initiative to expose the full benefit of the effort.

Many companies see digital transformation as a wide-ranging, detailed kind of plan that encompasses numerous objectives and potentially large financial investments. What companies may not realize is that by shifting focus slightly they can free resources in their business or budget that will really allow them to begin or accelerate their digital transformation.

We assist clients in elevating those efforts, and link them to the business outcome expected. By doing so, we strengthen the effort across the enterprise and maximize spend. This can be a quicker and easier way to get started with documenting a digital transformation strategy.

Take the Next Step in Your Transformation

What is standing in your way of an optimized IT strategy? Engage with CenturyLink’s solution architect team for a personalized assessment of your plans at an Executive Strategy Session.  The session employs CenturyLink’s Solution Transformation Methodology to assess your business goals and develop a customized strategic plan.

  1. “Forrester Report: Digital Experience Technology and Delivery Priorities,” May 2016.

This article was originally published on Forbes Brand Voice.

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