Integrated technology marketing expert Michael Gale says that 84% of companies fail at digital transformation. The majority of companies aren’t prepared for the major cultural and technological shifts and fail by trying to force it. Even companies that have taken the time to create an actionable strategy for their digital transformation project make one key mistake—starting too large.

A key to successful digital transformation is starting small. Many companies are looking for a big idea, as new products are the top digital disruptor. To gain traction with digital transformation across the company, they should probably start smaller, with more attainable goals.

5 Quick Steps to Digital Transformation

Following are 5 quick steps you can take to supercharge your company’s digital transformation momentum.

  1. Start a Small Discovery Project

A discovery project is essentially an audit of where your company stands today that also determines what steps you should take next. The goal is to bring major stakeholders together to assess key digital transformation challenges and understand the business at a fundamental level. Many stakeholders think they have a firm grasp of their core values and differentiators, but they are often a few steps ahead of the true starting point.

Small discovery projects back stakeholders up a few steps and help them understand the problem they’re really trying to solve. With design thinking and a focus on Simon Sinek’s “start with why” mentality, you can plan a successful path to digital transformation.

This might sound like a major undertaking to some companies, but small discovery projects should only take you 1 to 4 weeks (depending on the complexity), giving you a way to quickly take action and develop next key steps for your digital transformation.

  1. Establish the Business Strategy

When you’ve discovered your “why,” you can start to establish a business strategy for your project. There are many frameworks to help you think about business strategy, but the Business Model Canvas is a good approach for a company just starting out with digital transformation because it allows you to see the business holistically.

Other tools such as Porter’s Five Forces and Blue Ocean Strategy help determine where your company fits in the competitive landscape and identify white space for new product development.

Companies starting out with digital transformation often have a rudimentary business model, but falter when it comes to actually bringing a product to market and standing out from their competition. The goal isn’t just to get yourself into TechCrunch to then become irrelevant a few weeks later—you want to build a sticky product that keeps customers coming back. In 1 to 2 weeks you can understand your company’s strategy and product roadmap, giving you a concrete foundation for successful digital transformation.

  1. Create a Customer Journey Map

The customer journey map is part of discovery, but can be a separate way to help companies with digital transformation. Most companies think that they have to jump into the market where customers are carrying out buying transactions, but a customer journey map can show potential at other stages such as pre-sales decision or post-sales support, bridging the gap between the company and the customer.

One thing you can use a customer journey map for is to determine where you can digitize your business. What offline processes or products can you digitize or take online? Without a formalized customer journey map process, you might be taking your digital transformation project in the wrong direction.

Download the Pillars of a Successful Digital Transformation Strategy White Paper

The best part of the customer journey map is that it only takes a few days to finish. This means you can quickly prove the value of digital transformation to the rest of the organization and start taking it into other departments or processes.

  1. Develop a Clickable Prototype

Iteration and validation are essential pieces of digital transformation product development. The goal is to get your software project in front of customers as early as possible with a minimum lovable product (MLP). Your customers will give you the feedback necessary to create new product iterations and ensure that the problem you’re trying to solve is actually being solved.

Google uses Keynote and PowerPoint to deliver prototypes (sometimes linear, sometimes clickable)—a clear indication that this stage is meant to prove that you’re on the right track before you waste your time with a lengthy development process. Your well-designed clickable prototype should only take a 2- to 4-week sprint to create, getting you off and running with digital transformation.

  1. Building a Proof of Concept

The proof of concept process is similar to the clickable software prototype process, but with a hardware product instead. The same idea applies—you want to rapidly build a breadboard version of your hardware using off the shelf parts that proves your product can later be configured to solve your “why."

Of all the quick steps we’ve provided, hardware proofs of concept will take the longest. But a four week investment to build a quick breadboard proof of concept for your hardware project can be a great start at digital transformation. The proof of concept allows you to validate your concept, pick the right components, and cost out your bill of materials

Moving Beyond the Quick Digital Transformation Steps

Each of the quick steps we’ve listed here could be carried out individually as quick digital transformation wins. However, if you want long-term digital transformation success, they should be done together.

After completing these 5 steps, you’ll be well on your way to succeeding with digital transformation—but there’s much more you still have to do once you’ve started. If you want to learn more about the ideas and techniques necessary for digital transformation, download our free white paper, The Pillars of a Successful Digital Transformation Strategy.

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