Four practical tips for a successful digital transformation

16/10/2018 - 07:49

It is becoming increasingly clear that the fruits of economic growth are picked by companies that embrace the increasing digitization. However, many SMEs still lag behind because of ignorance or conservative management. While the advantages of digitization are numerous, they are difficult to get for traditional SMEs. Companies with outdated business models and infrastructure are being pushed aside by companies that are able to use the tools of the digital era.

Although the average lifespan of companies has declined over the past half-century – the data from Standard & Poor’s show that it was 61 in 1958, 25 in 1980 and just 18 in 2011 – digitalization puts organizations under unprecedented pressure to evolve. That means managing your transition to a digitally driven business model is not only crucial to beat competitors; it is crucial to surviving.

In this post, we discuss four practical tips that assist your SME towards a successful digital transformation.

     1. Create a digital roadmap

Although digital transformation is mainly driven by new technology, a successful implementation depends on a good strategy. Create a roadmap with all projects that will jointly contribute to the digital transformation. The roadmap clarifies which projects are being worked on and which resources they require. Furthermore, the roadmap offers a crucial tool to communicate the company’s objectives to employees. However, do not hold stubbornly to the original roadmap. Digitization is a long-term process and undoubtedly some initiatives will not go according to plan. Responding quickly to changes is essential.

    2. Adjust your organizational structure

Modern companies know that cumbersome hierarchical structures are no longer optimal. Companies are increasingly evolving towards a flexible structure where cooperation is central. The organizational structure is synchronous with the customer objectives through a focus on fast, project-based structures consisting of employees from various departments who organize themselves in work groups.

    3. Put the customer first

Digitization has strongly influenced the communication between company and customer. Numerous digital platforms have come on to the scene where customers can encounter your company; let’s take Facebook posts, Google reviews, and Instagram photos as examples. Consumers are more exposed to companies than ever before.

As a company, you can use a customer journey map where the interactions of an individual and company on all channels are mapped. Focusing on these points of contact during the digitization process ensures that the customer remains central. When the customer journey is fully mapped out, companies can concentrate on how they can digitally make each point of contact better, faster, more efficient and fully integrate them into one coherent experience. A streamlined customer journey will benefit the customer experience and translate them into more loyal customers.

    4. Experiment

In order to meet short-term financial targets, most established companies must support their traditional value proposition, but in order to succeed in the digital economy in the long term, a digital offer will have to be developed. By constantly experimenting with small adjustments, the feedback received will let companies find out what their customers value. The key to success will then lie in quickly scaling up successful experiments.


Technology evolves at lightning speed and influences all departments and processes of a company. In addition to this, the digital (blockchain, artificial intelligence, internet of things, …) developments follow each other at an arrow-fast pace. It is, therefore, often difficult for company managers to know where to start. As a company, you do not want to get carried away by every technology hype, but you also do not want to fall behind. The disruptive technologies of yesterday are the fundamental building blocks of today.