How to ensure a smooth digital transformation

Digital transformation has been a buzz word for a long time. I saw it first hand during my time at Adobe as we hit the narrative of the need for businesses to shift strategies to the mobile/cross-device consumer. It’s all well and good for marketers, sales folks, designers, and executives to pound on this, but it’s the infrastructure owners who are on the front lines.

This was one of the themes from the VMware vForum online conference on October 16th (available on demand). I wasn’t able to make it to VMworld this year, so was excited to be able to tune into the broadcast to learn more from some of the brightest minds on trends in infrastructure. It can be overwhelming for these leaders to decide which tech to invest in and which path to take, but it can also provide the foundation for the future.

Chris Wolf, VP and CTO of the global field and industry at VMWare said “start small, these are hard skills to hire for, so try to develop from within.”

Chris Wolf presenting at VMworld

Building on what Chris had to say about digital transformation, here are 4 steps on how to achieve digital transformation.

  1. Analyze where you currently stand
  2. Choose your OKR (Outcome and key result)
  3. Get buy-in
  4. Evaluate and optimize

Analyze where you currently stand

CEO of Adobe, Shantanu Narayen had this to say. “Our product cycles were too slow to keep up with the pace of innovation our engineers wanted to deliver,” Narayen explained. “We didn’t have a direct customer relationship to understand which features would add the most value. And we weren’t attracting the next generation of new users.”

“Moving to a cloud-based subscription model put the customer experience front and center,” he said, “delivering a continuous stream of innovation to customers.”

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen presenting on digital transformation at Adobe Summit

When I started at Adobe the flagship product was Creative Suite 6 (including Photoshop, Premiere, etc…). The revenue stream was sporadic and updates weren’t as frequent. The company had frequent all-hands meetings for employees to bring all hands on deck to the digital transformation. They were transparent and took in all the information possible along the way.

The company did loads of research and planning prior to making the leap and that belief in the vision and research helped push the company through the move.

Choose your OKR

John Doerr, one of Google’s early investors and a current Board of Directors member, learned about OKRs from Andy Grove while at Intel. Doerr explained that when he joined Intel, the company was transitioning from a memory company to a microprocessor company, and Grove and the management team needed a way to help employees focus on a set of priorities in order to make a successful transition. OKRs helped them communicate those priorities, maintain alignment, and make that switch.

Infrastructure, without it a company would crumble.

You can’t just decide upon a goal or theme for your business without having some tangible goals. Setting OKRs at company and org level can help to ensure buy-in and accountability on the path to digital transformation.

OKRs may involve an annual goal to have certain processes automated or moved to the Cloud. Smaller quarterly goals can help lead the team along the way.

Get Buy-In

It’s crucial to get buy-in from the most affected orgs and even company-wide if your culture calls for it. I appreciated from the beginning the approach Adobe took to getting buy-in from teams. For a company of around 20k people, it definitely felt more like a startup.

Keys to getting buy-in can start small and spread as a commitment to the plan grows. If you are leading the transformation you will want to have a clear vision and steps for the process. Have a plan for commitments from your infrastructure teams, have a hiring plan, and have the energy needed to push the company through.

As a leader of digital transformation, you need to create a culture and vision that shows your company as more than just a production house. Your vision needs to show how the company fits into a digital and automated future. It can start with just a simple statement that is visual

As an example of transformation vision, at CloudApp we are leaders in the Collaboration 2.0 movement. According to the State of Collaboration report from CloudApp, more than 1 in 2 office workers prefer to communicate visually with more than 57% of Gen Z working remotely each week. At CloudApp, we are enabling that visual collaboration through the creation of instantly shareable screenshots, videos, and GIFs.

Passing that vision onto your teams can encourage a strong culture for transformation and help the team push through the harder moments that lie ahead.

Getting buy in from your team and company is critical for digital transformation

Evaluate and optimize

Your people will be key to implementing new systems and infrastructure. Teams involved in digital transformation should have frequent check-ins with OKRs to ensure the vision is being executed on.

As you start the process, priorities may change and adjustments may need to be made, but the overall vision and strategy should remain the same. Consistency with evaluation and optimization where needed is crucial for pushing digital transformation forward.

On top of infrastructure and moves to the cloud, you may also consider other transformation tools to lead you into the modern workplace. Tools like CloudApp with its screen recording, snipping tool, and GIF creator enables instant visual business communication and has proven to be a strong keystone for customer support, marketing, engineering, sales, and other orgs.

Want some examples?

You can find their transformation stories here.


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