Ron Huber

Ron Huber is the CEO and co-founder of Achieve Internet. He's an experienced senior executive with over 15 years managing and leading software teams in the online media, Internet, and software development space.

About the Author



Digital transformation is a process that helps organizations increase efficiency and effectiveness while adapting to the ever-changing digital landscape.

The process of going digital has never been easy, and it's become even more complicated in recent years. Companies need to think about what they are trying to accomplish versus “going digital.”

To stay competitive with startups and other companies that have already started this transformation process early on, companies need to embrace an outside-in approach and API portals as part of their digital transformation strategy.

Is it a daunting process? It can be. But with the right roadmap, it's a much smoother journey.

What Is a Digital Transformation Roadmap?

A digital transformation roadmap is a tailored guide that offers step-by-step instructions on how to achieve your organizational goals using digital technology.

It will likely change over time as the landscape changes and new technologies emerge, but it should provide a general framework for approaching digital transformation.

Before you create your roadmap, you’ll need to ask questions like:

  • How would your partners and clients benefit from this investment?

  • What’s the competition already doing?

  • What does true digital transformation look like when we’re finished?

Remember, true digital transformation involves updating the way your entire company works with technology—not just upgrading its IT department.

This process changes how the whole business operates and adds value for customers in all aspects of their business lives, from production methods to customer service solutions.

The Outside-In Approach

One of the most important aspects of designing an API is focusing on what people will use it for and how they want to interact.

Every company needs to look at digital transformation as a priority because you're being left behind. And even if you’re just getting started, you can quickly catch up with the competition by taking the outside-in approach.

The outside-in approach starts by identifying your target consumers, then getting acquainted with their needs so you can build a great experience around them.

This consumer-oriented approach asks questions like:

  • In what way would the API be useful to the client?

  • Are there any ways I can help the consumer locate the API more easily?

  • How can I make it easy for consumers to build apps using my API?

For example, you spend two to three years migrating your internal systems to the cloud. You'll use trending words like Kubernetes and Microservices, but then what? Gartner suggests taking a look at the market, and talking to your partners, clients, and even competitors.

Are you planning to expand your business through digital offerings or simply trying to save IT overhead by eliminating your data center?

If it's the former, you should start with your API portal. Identify who wants or needs access to your data and determine how your business will grow through partnering with application developers or partners who are begging for real-time access.

As you develop your digital transformation roadmap, using the needs and pain points of your user base as the North Star guiding your strategy is how some of the world’s largest organizations disrupt their markets and stay ahead of the competition.

Now that you know the essentials, let's move from theory to practice.

How to Create a Digital Transformation Roadmap

While there are many factors to consider when creating a digital transformation roadmap, we recommend considering these key elements.

1. Assess the Current State

To successfully navigate the ever-changing digital landscape, a business must be willing and able to adapt to new technologies and trends. As such, a critical part of any organization's digital transformation roadmap should be an assessment of its current state.

This involves evaluating both existing systems and infrastructure as well as the broader business goals and operational needs of the organization.

Approaches vary according to an organization's industry, size, and complexity, but all of them tend to involve evaluating key performance indicators like ROI or employee satisfaction. These findings help to inform future priorities and processes as the business works to become more agile and responsive in its digital transformation efforts.

These frameworks will help you identify what needs to be done for your organization to achieve its digital transformation goals.

  • SWOT: A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis is an exercise that lets you identify both internal and external factors that may impact your digital transformation efforts.

  • PESTEL: A political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal (PESTEL) analysis aids with your understanding of the macro-environmental factors that impact your business as you seek to digitize.

  • BGC Matrix: The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) matrix is a tool commonly used by businesses to assess their portfolio of products or services. When applied to digital transformation efforts, it helps prioritize initiatives based on their potential impact.

  • SOAR: A strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results (SOAR) approach lets you understand the positive internal factors that will drive your digital transformation efforts.

2. Develop a Digital Transformation Strategy

Whether your organization is embarking on a major transformation or simply looking for ways to catch up with current trends, you'll need to develop a transformation strategy to achieve your goals.

Goals and Objectives

It is crucial for organizations seeking to achieve digital transformation to set clear goals and objectives. This helps ensure that everyone in the organization understands what needs to be done, and it provides a framework that facilitates various efforts as they are implemented.

From developing new systems and processes to optimizing existing technologies, clear goals enable organizations to make focused and measured progress towards their ultimate goal of achieving digital transformation.

Also, when goals are clearly defined and regularly revisited, leadership teams can more accurately evaluate progress and determine if extra support is needed.

Phases

By breaking down your digital transformation strategy into phases, organizations avoid many of the pitfalls associated with large-scale initiatives.

Phase-based projects are more likely to stay on schedule and within budget. Additionally, it's easier to identify and fix problems that arise when you break the digital transformation project into smaller pieces.

Finally, the iterative/phased approach provides a more agile way to allow organizations to gradually roll out new technologies and processes, minimizing disruptions and maximizing employee buy-in.

This ensures that any transformation achieved will be aligned with business goals, resulting in an effective and efficient deployment of resources for your company's success.

Tech Stack

Next, it is essential to understand the existing technology infrastructure within your organization before implementing a digital transformation strategy.

This means mapping out your tech stack and identifying gaps or inefficiencies that need to be addressed as part of the overall implementation process.

Benefits of Tech Stack Mapping:

  • Ensure all critical systems are effectively integrated

  • Optimize performance

  • Improve collaboration and communication across departments

  • Enhance the ability to create and deliver innovative products or services

  • Increase agility and flexibility for the business

  • Allow for faster iteration and response to changing market

Overall, mapping out your tech stack is essential when developing a robust and effective digital transformation strategy.

Budget

You'll also need to establish your budget. When organizations embark on digital transformation initiatives, they often overlook the importance of creating a budget.

This can be a costly mistake, as digital transformation frequently involves significant investments in new technologies and processes.

Without a budget to indicate where money should be allocated, organizations quickly find themselves overspending and in debt.

Incorporating budgeting as part of your digital transformation strategy is a sure-fire way to ensure the most efficient use of resources.

Timeline

The last step is to develop a clear timeline for your digital transformation efforts. Having a clear sense of your strategic goals will allow you to more effectively align your efforts with the needs and expectations of your key stakeholders.

A reliable timeline can help you avoid common pitfalls in digital transformations, such as failing to meet deadlines or making strategic changes in the middle of the process that can derail your efforts.

3. Get Executive Buy-in

A digital transformation roadmap is only successful if it has executive buy-in. This means that senior leaders need to be on board with proposed changes and committed to making them happen.

It will be very difficult to implement the changes necessary for a successful transformation without this support. Furthermore, executive buy-in is important for maintaining momentum during the transformation process.

Senior leaders provide guidance and support when challenges arise, and their endorsement of the roadmap ensures that all employees are on board with the changes.

Ultimately, executive buy-in is essential for guaranteeing that a digital transformation roadmap is successful.

How to Secure Executive Buy-in:

  • Show the potential benefits of digital transformation.

  • Demonstrate how the changes will improve business efficiency and effectiveness.

  • Explain how digital transformation helps to meet strategic goals.

  • Highlight the potential cost savings that can be realized through a successful transformation.

  • Make a clear case for the value of executive buy-in.

  • Describe the risks of not embarking on a digital transformation strategy.

  • Outline a clear plan for how the transformation will be executed.

  • Identify the resources that will be required for the transformation.

  • Explain how the success of the transformation will be measured.

4. Secure the Resources

A digital transformation roadmap needs to include how you will secure the resources required to support it. For example, financial resources will be required to fund the purchase of new technology, as well as the costs of training employees.

Additionally, human resources will be needed to design and implement the new systems, as well as to manage and operate them on an ongoing basis.

The new systems will also require secure data and information, including customer data, financial data, and proprietary information.

By carefully considering these needs at the outset, you can ensure that your digital transformation roadmap is achievable and sustainable.

5. Prioritize Areas of Improvement with the Highest ROI

Digital transformation requires identifying the areas of improvement that will have the largest return on investment to succeed.

This enables businesses to secure early wins that help drive momentum for the broader digital transformation initiative and help identify areas in which further improvements could have a significant impact on organizational performance.

Some key metrics that are typically used when evaluating ROI include factors such as cost savings, efficiency gains, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction.

Additionally, it is important to consider other factors that may influence the ROI projections, such as competitive pressure and business environment conditions that may impact success.

6. Implement Change Management for Key Stakeholders

Every successful digital transformation initiative requires successful change management for each of its stakeholders.

Employees