The Importance of Creating a Digital Roadmap

A perspective on achieving digital transformation success through building a plan of action and the application of agility.

Digital transformation initiatives have been around for years. I’ve personally been a part of numerous strategic roadmap engagements over the past decade. As the CTO of a major consulting services organization, I believe that technology can drive both innovation and optimization in any type or size of industry or company. But I’ve seen many of these transformation programs become oversized, overly complex, and unachievable. According to a recent article in Forbes, a staggering 70% of digital transformations fail. So, here’s my perspective on achieving digital transformation success through building a plan of action and the application of agility.

According to a recent article in Forbes, a staggering 70% of digital transformations fail.

First, set your long-term strategic business objectives. I like the idea and all aspects of SMART goals, but make sure they’re measurable. Determine how you’ll measure whether they were completed successfully. While it’s great to have a KPI to measure against success criteria, sometimes these objectives might be more abstract, and you may need to identify evidence that the goal has been achieved. For example, if I wanted my company brand to become well-known in a new market, how would I measure this brand awareness? There may be several ways to say this goal was met, but without objective measures OR other evidentiary indicators, you’ll never have clarity on meeting your targets.

Once you’ve identified your strategic objectives, it’s time to select the digital trends that can help you achieve those goals. Should I be focusing on personalizing the customer experience, automating the enterprise, or securing critical data? It’s essential to choose the right trends that are uniquely applicable to your industry, organization, and culture. Remember, digital transformation is ongoing and ever-evolving, but the trends you select will help drive change and move you forward on your journey. Just don’t try to chase every trend. Pursue the ones that will make a real difference and particularly if they are in the early stages of adoption, which gives you a chance to be a digital leader.

Now that you understand your strategic objectives and have selected the right digital trends, it’s time to turn them into discrete actions. What actions should you take to help make progress against that trend in support of the big picture? Create a list of the first 3-5 priorities or projects to implement. It doesn’t have to be a comprehensive list. I like to make this list and score it in terms of benefit versus cost, complexity, and risk, which helps me determine the prioritization and creation of a roadmap or action plan. These digital roadmaps should represent the attainable components of digital transformation over, no more than the next 12 months. They may also require periodic adjustment, as business objectives and digital trends change over time. These roadmaps will also be supported by tools and technologies that may introduce various constraints. But create your digital roadmap and select the right technologies rather than letting the technology dictate your course.

Finally, these roadmaps will drive backlog for your products and services. This allows you to tie story points back up through strategic objectives and provides a way to measure progress in your digital transformation program across the enterprise. You’ll still need the right people, processes, and technologies to be successful. There may be nuances to implementing this approach in your organization, but I hope this gives you a basic framework for turning digital transformation from an idea into action.