According to The Enterprisers Project1 digital transformation is defined as the profound and accelerating transformation of business activities, processes, competencies and models to leverage the opportunities presented by digital technologies across society in a strategic way.

This transformation is a huge commitment for companies to make – especially for large enterprises. Organizations tend to be divided into two categories when it comes to adopting new technologies, the digital laggards and the digital leaders. A recent white paper authored by Marco Iansiti and Karim Lakhani from the Harvard Business School states, “a substantial performance gap is opening between digital leaders and laggards, effectively creating a ‘digital divide’ across companies. While many are benefiting from the new range of capabilities and opportunities created by digitization, others appear to be falling behind.”

Seize the Opportunity or Fall Behind

This fact reminds us that despite the many risks it brings and the commitment transformation requires, the opportunity to drive business success is clear – this can include higher revenue, competitive edge, happier customers, reduced costs, and more. The paper continues, “Our research shows that digital transformation not only provides a challenge for managers, but also defines a major opportunity – investment in digitizing your business appears to pay. Our empirical observations show that digitally transformed organizations (“digital leaders”) performed much better than organizations that lagged behind (“digital laggards”).”

Reinventing the Business Model

When it comes to large global organizations, we continue to see new examples of successful digital transformations and it is quickly becoming clear who is neglecting this essential effort. The white papers cautions, “Without adopting a new, digital operating model, the same assets will be stranded and old organizations will be on the way to irrelevance and displacement.”

Digital transformation comes in many forms depending on industry and company goals. A manufacturing company may look to improve the HR user experience to ensure employee engagement and satisfaction. A car company may look to develop an autonomous car that delivers pizza to cut costs and increase distribution potential. A hotel chain may look to replace their front desk staff with robots to improve efficiency and quality. In these cases, being a digital disruptor brings you to the front of the competitive pack.

Choosing to Be a Digital Leader

Once companies decide to make the investment in digital transformation, quality execution, speed and driving business results couldn’t be more important. How do you ensure this huge investment and such significant change brings the performance benefits mentioned above? For many companies, digital transformation has a lot to do with their enterprise applications. These apps and the end-to-end business processes they support are at the core of driving business outcomes.

The need to manage digital business challenges and accelerate transformation is driving the adoption of intelligent automation. As companies evolve and improve operating models, they find the manual effort they’ve always relied on won’t cut it. Automation enables companies to embrace new capabilities, keep pace with constant technology changes, and deliver business outcomes faster. In this new environment, it’s more important than ever that end-to-end business processes across enterprise applications perform as designed, without disruption.

Here are four things you should keep in mind once you’ve decided to be a digital leader:

  1. You need a strategy: Enterprises need to have a clear vision of exactly what they want to accomplish, and the steps they plan to take to get there. For example, Accenture’s Office of the CIO recently set a goal to automate repetitive quality assurance activities. The first step was to document end-to-end processes to reduce duplicate test script creation. The second step was to use automation to rethink each test scenario for insight into tactical changes that could increase efficiency. The third step was to compile and evaluate results that can help guide future investment. In this case, the project was an overwhelming success, reducing regression testing effort by 60% and decreasing the following fiscal year’s testing budget by 50%.
  2. Prioritization is key – Make digital transformation part of your company’s DNA. Mary Kida from 3M said that during the journey to automation, engaging in frequent communication with business stakeholders, especially during ramp up was crucial to her team’s success. Another success factor? Securing support from senior leadership. If it’s a priority for them, the whole company will embrace the strategy.
  3. Change is good – Things will change, but that’s good and necessary! Updating and introducing technology change is critical to driving success. Companies need to implement change quickly and with high quality and doing this manually is no longer an option. Using automation during the journey ensures that employees can focus on high value strategic initiatives, instead of spending countless hours on mundane manual activities.
  4. Play the end-game – Keep your end-goals in mind. Why did you start the journey to digital transformation? It may take time to adopt new digital technologies and implement new processes, but keep your focus. As the statistics are telling us, it pays off!

Today’s digital world means that there are growing expectations that executives will continuously deliver high quality technology that works. Seamless execution, process improvement, insight execution, flawless user experiences. Automation helps make digital projects as fast and error free as possible. The decision to start the journey can be daunting, but embracing this opportunity with automation is the best way to get there more quickly and with confidence. Don’t let your organization end up in the digital laggard category. As the white paper referenced earlier says: “The time for investing in digital transformation is now. Digital technology has been spawning networks for several decades, but the rate of transformation is increasing.”

  1. “What is Digital Transformation” The Enterprisers Project, 9/1/17,
  2. “What Companies on the Right Side of Digital Business Divide Have in Common” Harvard Business Review, 7/6/17,