Strategy & Consulting

Don’t rush digital transformation: plan for speed first

Written by Pim van Helten on 10, Auth 2020

It isn’t often that a crisis as big and impactful as Covid-19 throws every industry into uncharted territory. Understandably, businesses might panic, but as Winston Churchill famously said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” It can be the opportunity to implement long needed innovations that are necessary to move forward.

Now is the time

If not now then when? Digital transformation is nothing new and has been a hot topic for decades. But, post COVID-19, the shift from offline to online has accelerated. Being able to work remotely, having an online presence and servicing customers from a distance is the way for survival in a rapidly evolving world. We all know it’s time to step up, but how to go about it? 

Embracing digital is a great start, but keep in mind that digital transformations are not for the fainthearted. When done right, it will be a thorough, transformative, company wide trajectory, with many implications and stakeholders. It’s complex and cumbersome to roll out. Without consistent effort and a clear plan, digital transformations often tend to fizzle out, leading more than 70% of them to actually fail

Adapting to new opportunities

COVID-19 has significantly changed consumer attitudes, behavior and purchasing habits, with many remaining post-pandemic. How exactly you should adapt is different for every industry and business, but the following points are a great start: 

  1. Be in touch with what your customers want now and update your journeys, touchpoints and requirements accordingly. This situation affects your customers, and you have to understand what their changing wants and needs are. 
  2. As consumption changes, setting up relevant platforms will allow you to stay in business and even expand. Brick-and-mortar stores that are building webshops, event organizations that are running webinars or museums that are creating complete digital experiences are good examples. 
  3. Once your infrastructure is in place, measuring the results, tracking conversions and making necessary adaptations is key. The first ninety days are often the most crucial. 
  4. Technical solutions and engaging content go hand in hand. Communication is critical, driving traffic and generating leads is often your lifeline.

Internal challenges

The digital part of your transformation is important, but certainly not the only aspect that needs your attention. Quite often the biggest hurdle to overcome in any transformation is implementing and embedding change within your whole organization. People are usually not very flexible towards adjustments and being forced outside their comfort zone. Changing the mindset of your employees and culture before implementing any digital technology will determine the success of it. 

Not to be underestimated as well, is defining what a digital transformation means for your organization. As the concept is often still misunderstood. Digital transformation is so much more than simply implementing the latest tech trends. Setting priorities of where to focus your efforts and what works for your organization should be high on your to-do list. 

Long-term thinking is key

As intimidating as the process sounds, it’s important to think ahead and have a plan in place for how you’re navigating this new digital reality. Try to keep these five points in mind: 

  1. Don’t rush, but think long-term and carefully plan for speed and direction.  
  2. Understand new customer needs and business requirements before starting with the implementation process, who knows what new opportunities you will discover. 
  3. Measure, adapt and update your new digital landscape and stay on top of your game. 
  4. Don’t forget that the real work often starts after the implementation is finished. Keep the communication with your customers going at all costs.  
  5. Keep stakeholders and employees in the loop and take them with you on your transformation journey. They need time to adapt as well.
Pim van Helten

Pim van Helten


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