Many people have tried to sum up what “digital transformation” means. For the most part, it’s defined as using digital technologies to create or modify processes, culture, and customer experiences to be more effective and competitive.
However, this definition doesn’t address how to measure the effectiveness of a business’ efforts to digitally transform itself, nor does it propose where such transformation efforts should focus within the organization. Digital transformation isn’t an objective, but rather an evolutionary approach. The true objective businesses have when embarking on digital transformation is to improve the organization’s digital maturity.
How to get it Right
Digital maturity is a misunderstood term. People often think of it as a measure of a business’ technical capabilities. They believe the more functional capabilities provided in the portfolio of software and systems that a business has procured, the more digitally mature an organization has become. Buying the latest software is viewed as an upgrade or growth in capabilities, but there is a big difference between the availability of capability and maturity. Organizations can buy digital capability, but they must develop digital maturity.
Digital maturity in its true form is a measure across the people, processes, and technology within an organization and how they come together to provide value effectively. In the case of digital commerce, that value is measured using a variety of commerce key performance indicators (KPIs) today, but the most critical factor is how these forces combine to engage with a digital audience. Do they frustrate, satisfy, or delight the audience? Do you even know if they do any of those for your audience? An organization must mature their understanding of how to provide value to their digital audience and meet their expectations as they also mature the people, processes, and technology that attempt to meet and exceed those expectations.
Think of digital maturity as a chain that is made of links from a business’ people, process, technology, and audience insight. That chain is under constant and greater strain that the audience is placing on it. We know that the chain will break at its weakest point. We also know that even if the links are currently holding, they will fail as the audience expectation strain increases. Digital maturity is the quality and gauge of the chain.
Let Digital Maturity Be Your Guide
Businesses need to assess people, processes, and technology across all the capabilities that create the digital audience’s experience along with how well they know that audience’s expectations. Only then can a business truly understand their digital maturity and were limiting factors are inhibiting them from delighting digital audiences. Organizations are often focusing on improving what isn’t the current limiting factor to great audience engagement, only to wonder why things have not improved after a lengthy effort.
An organization can have incredibly talented teams with the latest technology, and yet still be limited by how the processes that unify them have evolved. The processes that served the business well will have become a burden and outdated yet are still often overlooked by a desire to add more steps and functionality to an already crippling workflow.
Likewise, having great processes and technology without the human resources that can leverage them fails to capitalize on the opportunity to delight digital audiences. In my experience, it’s almost never the case that technology alone is the limiting factor to success, yet it’s still where businesses spend the most time, money, and effort while ignoring the people and processes that could dramatically improve the effectiveness of the business for a fraction of the effort and cost.
Where You Should Go from Here
Assessing an organization’s digital maturity does more than simply provide a scorecard of where they rank across people, process and technology, and audience understanding. It proves an honest and tangible metric to prioritize the improvement and maturation of a business to align with how its audience engagement expectations. The chain of digital maturity is only as strong as its weakest link. Improving the weakest link in the digital maturation that businesses should focus on if they wish to align and exceed digital audience expectations.