Recently, American market research, analysis and advisory firm, International Data Corporation published a technology spotlight examining the process of digital transformation in companies and the importance it holds to success. Noting the speed at which new ideas and start-ups can disrupt established businesses, it discussed the different stages that companies may find themselves at and how to approach the process of digital transformation in order to best realise the benefits it can bring. The report focussed on technology with a long-term benefit, rather than temporary gains.

Five different stages of digital transformation maturity were given, ranging from companies which use minimal digital technology and poorly implemented IT services, to businesses which utilises cutting-edge technology to disrupt markets and create new opportunities. The bottom stage represents a disconnect between the business and IT components of a company with an associated lack of focus on customer experience. Following on from this are companies which know they need to innovate but fail to do so effectively – assigning sporadic projects to try and achieve progress. The middle level is where IT is well integrated in a business and enables digital product creation and services; however, there is a lack of focus on the more innovative and disruptive technologies. Companies in the fourth stage are market leaders and provide high quality products or services continually as IT and business goals are fully integrated and aligned. The final stage – the one to aspire to – is for the pioneers in markets which have an in-depth knowledge of the ecosystem and constantly use feedback to innovate and disrupt the sector. These companies embrace new technology in all aspects of their businesses in order to provide the best products or services.

In order to move up the ladder of the digital transformation process, the report described a number of points to consider. Firstly, there is a need for companies to have an honest assessment of the stage they are at in the digital transformation process. From there, discussions would need to take place as to what the goals of implementing the digital transformation process would be and from there, the areas of the company that require input in order to effect the changes needed. The process would result in the setting of standards and milestones to achieve digital transformation. In order to do this it might be necessary to look for third-party options, including consulting services to assess the business and suggest steps for progression.

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