From The FieldTechnological prowess can set up a company for success, but usually not by itself. The best-performing companies don’t lose sight of what customers need or how employees can deliver it, and that means cultivating a culture to empower both groups. ARC vice president and chief information officer Dickie Oliver offers tips to companies trying to keep pace in a digital world.

Many organizations have embarked on or completed digital transformations to try to stay technologically current and relevant to the needs of their customers. They have modified their technology capabilities to successfully reinvent their business models. One of the best-known examples of digital transformation is Netflix’s move to streaming movies from DVDs-by-mail. Another is how Apple harnessed technology to upset the longstanding paradigm of the way music was distributed.

A similar digital transformation is underway throughout the travel industry today. Airlines and travel agencies, and the technology companies that support them, are innovating with new technological approaches to deliver frictionless service and value to their customers.

But what does digital transformation really mean for your organization? Is it just new technology tools, a new cloud strategy or new ways to interact with customers? Or is it how you reimagine your business?

Here are some points to consider when embarking on your own digital transformation:

It’s driven by the customer experience. Technology in itself isn’t the goal. Technology enables the goal, which is to deliver improved products, services and experiences to customers. This should be obvious, but many organizations focus myopically on the technology and not on the bigger picture. Once your organization has aligned on a vision of where you want the business to move toward, the technology decisions needed to bring that vision to life will follow.

It challenges the status quo. To create the best possible solutions, you have to shed all preconceived notions. In an industry like air travel, where parties are so interconnected through deeply complex processes, dispensing with those preconceived notions can be especially challenging – but it’s critical to ensure your new systems enable new efficiencies. The real value comes from team members, both technical and non-technical, understanding the power of the new technology and using that power to challenge the status quo and reimagine the business to drive real customer value and convenience, and ultimately real business growth for their companies.

It is a journey, not a destination. Technology changes quickly. You must be forward-thinking while transforming your organization. Your new systems need to stay relevant even after the transformation. The truth is, the transformation never ends. You need to reimagine what your company will deliver to customers in the future, but also what your company will look like internally. What new roles will you need to fill? What knowledge do you need to build among your employees? Think big.

It’s embraced by every leader and employee. The transformation mindset must be driven from the top down and embraced by all. The leadership team must empower employees by giving them the tools they need to make the most of this new future. Because your employees will be the ones carrying out the vision, they need to be a part of designing it. They need to own it and know how it all works. At ARC, we’ve been dedicated to communicating our transformation internally through all-hands staff meetings, town hall Q&A sessions, newsletters, interactive workshops and events like knowledge fairs. We also created autonomous teams that continually ask themselves and others, “What else can we do given this new capability?” Every person should be empowered to use new capabilities to drive business value both internally and externally to our customers through increased efficiency, faster speed to market and improved processing.

It isn’t exclusive to technology. When ARC first began transformation efforts, virtually all of our focus was on technology. We soon realized, though, that transformation involved more than just technology. From talent management to culture change to training and communication, we now know that transformation impacts the entire company. The importance of changing the culture and mindset of your organization should not be underestimated during this digital transformation journey. In fact, it may be the hardest area to change. Use transformation as an opportunity to re-skill a variety of business areas and challenge your cultural status quo internally.

No two companies’ journeys will be the same and no two companies will end up in the exact same location. Creating a roadmap and vision, driven by dedicated people who are aligned and empowered to shake up the status quo, will be the key to your overall digital transformation success.

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  1. Digital transformation is precisely the challenge before our industry today! I really enjoyed this post for how it emphasizes that digital transformations begin by aligning people, processes and goals around the customer experience, then deploying technology capable of supporting the “reimagined” model. You’ve said a lot in concise, easy to understand language. Nicely done!

  2. Great article Dickie! Transformation is all about having a mindset to think beyond what we know today and how it’s always been done. This reminds me of one of my favorite Zig Ziglar quotes, “your attitude, not your aptitude will determine your altitude”.

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