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Digital Transformation: Six Key Pillars of Success
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Digital Transformation: Six Key Pillars of Success
Date: 31-10-2016

 cleaning industry

As argued previously in this series of articles on digital disruption, we are beginning to see the early signs of a tidal wave of digital change sweeping the commercial cleaning industry in the Middle East and in related sectors such as hospitality, healthcare, facilities management and others.  

A convergence of technology forces is threatening to disrupt existing value chains, business models and industry structures. These include social media, enterprise social, the cloud, big data and predictive analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, automation, additive manufacturing (3D printing), wearables, autonomous vehicles, drones, the Blockchain, market entry of new disruptive digital start-ups together with the rapid emergence of a new generation of constantly connected customers and constantly connected employees (Gen C).

In the final article in the series, we provide some practical advice on preparing your business for the digital era. The advice proffered is equally relevant for small as well as larger businesses. With SMEs accounting for 90 per cent of all enterprises in GCC countries, the small business sector is a key driver of economic and job growth in the region. It is vital that we all leverage the full potential of digital technology to support sustained growth and competitiveness.

The six key pillars of digital success

Developing and implementing a digital transformation strategy for your business is no longer optional. It is a necessity. The only relevant issue now is the best way to approach this. There are six key pillars to a successful digital strategy:
1) Evaluate your digital landscape
2) Audit existing progress
3) Develop an agreed digital vision and strategy
4) Agree and prioritise the digital actions and initiatives to be implemented
5) Develop a roadmap to guide implementation, overcoming barriers to change
6) Measure performance

Pillar 1: Evaluate your digital landscape

The first step in preparing for a digital future is to undertake a digital landscape analysis evaluating the current and future state of digital disruption in your industry, the key technologies involved, emerging opportunities & threats and likely impact on your own business. Our previous Talking Point post outlined the key steps involved in more detail.  

Pillar 2: Audit existing progress

Once the range of disruptive technologies impacting on your business have been identified, the next step is to audit the digital progress you have already made. What gap exists between where you are and where you should be? Who is leading digital in your industry? Who are the exemplars of ‘best practice’? What gap exists between where you are and these ‘best practice’ exemplars?

Answering these questions will provide a solid foundation for future digital strategy development. Your digital audit should cover three broad areas:

1)‘External Digital’ - what progress has your business made in using digital to support sales, marketing, PR, customer engagement and customer service? What improvements can be made in these areas? Are you implementing ‘best practice’?
2)‘Internal Digital’ - what progress has been made in using digital technology to deliver operational costs savings through becoming more efficiency, building an agile, fast moving, flexible organisation ‘fit for purpose’ in a digital era? Where are the areas for improvement?
3)‘Business Model’ - to what extent have you adapted your underlying business model to take account of emerging digital opportunities and threats? 

Pillar 3: Develop a digital vision and strategy

Building on the digital landscape analysis and audit of existing progress, a clear digital vision and strategy should then be agreed by your senior executive team. This will ensure that a ‘business first’ rather than technology driven approach is adopted. The digital vision and strategy will guide the direction you need to take, ensuring that all future digital ‘actions and initiatives’ are fully aligned with and supportive of agreed business goals and objectives; that KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are agreed for monitoring and evaluating digital business performance, business impact and ROI. 
Having a clear vision and strategy will also help to prioritise competing digital initiatives based on the potential business impact of each initiative, leading to a more efficient and effective allocation of resources. 
The following questions should be addressed at this stage:
What is the overall digital business vision for your organisation? 
Is this fully aligned with and supportive of agreed business goals and objectives?
What are the key business objectives to be achieved? 
What KPIs will be used to monitor and evaluate digital performance and business impact?
What targets do we have for each KPI?
Who are the key stakeholders for your digital business strategy - customers, staff, business partners etc.?

Pillar 4: Agree digital actions and initiatives

What are the key digital actions and initiatives you need to implement to achieve the business objectives agreed above?
Externally, this could include redevelopment of your web site; leveraging the full potential of social media; implementing an inbound/content marketing strategy; use of digital channels for customer engagement and customer service; deriving actionable customer insight from social media listening; implementing a Social CRM system and so on. 
Internally, key actions and initiatives could include digitising/streamlining key business processes; better use of data analytics to improve business performance; reducing the email overload problem by using enterprise social and collaborative tools; automation; possible use of 3D printing (additive manufacturing); Internet of Things; reducing IT costs through moving to the Cloud and so on. 
From a resource allocation point of view, it is important to prioritise these competing initiatives based on their relative contribution to achieving agreed business goals and objectives. 

Pillar 5: Plan for implementation 

Digital transformation is not a ‘technology thing’. For most organisations in the Middle East, it will represent a massive change in the ‘way things are done around here’. Many barriers and obstacles stand in the way - resistance to change, getting people on board, fear, lack of awareness and understanding, organisational inertia, people and resource barriers. 

A well planned approach to implementation is required to overcome these barriers. This needs to be both ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’. Winning the support and commitment of all staff is critical to successful digital transformation. The role of the digital leader is critical in this respect. 

In many commercial cleaning and other businesses in the Middle East, a new breed of senior executive will be required to drive transformative change - ‘Digital Leaders’. Senior executives who can combine high level business knowledge, experience and understanding with the ability to develop digital transformation strategies fully aligned with and supportive of agreed business goals and objectives. 

Leaders with the confidence and personal skills to drive disruptive organisational and operational change.

Digital transformation requires a strong vision agreed at the very top of an organisation. It is a legitimate question to ask whether we have a sufficient supply of digital leaders in Middle East commercial cleaning. 

• What level of technology and digital experience does your existing senior management team have? 
• How many digital leaders currently sit in your boardroom? 
• Does your workforce have the digital skills to support and accept radical digital change?

Pillar 6: Measure performance

Finally, it is important to put in place an agreed framework for measuring digital performance, business impact and ROI.

We hope you have enjoyed our series of articles on digital disruption and found them useful. All previous posts are listed below. 

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