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7 Steps to Prepare for Digital Transformation at Your Firm

By Olivia Munro | Thursday, September 10th, 2020

We've all heard the buzzword "digital transformation" when talking about business processes over the last several years. For some, the definition has become unclear with both overuse and misuse. Technology has transformed business processes in amazing ways, and has moved us all forward leaps and bounds. So, what is digital transformation, and what does it mean to your firm? This blog will give an overview of what digital transformation can mean for the investment management industry and 7 steps to prepare your firm for a digital transformation.

First, what is digital transformation? 

According to George Westerman, author of Leading Digital: Turning Technology Into Business Transformation and MIT principal research scientist, digital transformation is "a radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people and processes to fundamentally change business performance." That is, how can we leverage technology to improve processes, streamline operations, and take advantage of what the digital world has to offer? According to Westerman, computers and technology evolve and transform at a rapid pace, while organizations' processes move at a much slower rate. Before any digital transformation can occur, your organization must take the proper steps to prepare. Continue reading to learn the 7 steps to prepare your firm for a digital transformation.

7 Steps to Prepare for Digital Transformation

Step 1: Get management buy-in

A digital transformation for the business needs to be driven by the Chief Executive Officer, and the entire management team needs to be on board for the new processes, programs, and technologies that are being deployed. Without full cooperation of the entire management team, including Finance, HR, Business Development, Marketing, and of course, IT, the transformation likely won't be successful.

Step 2: Clarify overarching business goals and objectives 

Building on step one, when implementing any new process or program, whether digital or not, organizations should take a look at the overarching business goals and objectives, ensuring that any steps taken in the digital transformation are not in vain, and directly correlate to a business end-goal. 

Step 3: Look at existing business processes, workflows and technologies

What systems or technologies will need to be updated before these initiatives? Will the new initiatives be compatible with existing workflows? How about with your existing IT infrastructure? Ensure you know what technologies or processes may "break" along the way, and have a plan to fix them. 

Step 3: Document the plan 

Before any transformation occurs, firms need to document the entire plan, including timelines, steps, roles and responsibilities. This is the time to be forward thinking, and try and anticipate any potential interruptions or roadblocks and solutions. 

Step 4: Assign critical roles and responsibilities 

This may sound like common sense, but ensure that all key stakeholders are on the same page, and expectations are clearly communicated to all employees, vendors, partners, and anyone contributing to the overall success of the program. Be sure to communicate any changes affecting all employees in a timely manner to ensure your whole organization is aware of interruptions that may affect their day-to-day.

Step 6: Use data to make strategic decisions

Today, we're armed with more data and information than ever before, and it's critical to use this data to guide any efforts, but specifically our digital initiatives. Use data to guide your digital transformation efforts and track how it affects your business's overall goals and bottom line, turning data into actionable strategic steps to better your business.

Step 7: Evaluate results 

Digital transformation is an ongoing business initiative. Ensure that you're evaluating results and the effect on your bottom line and overall business goals. Regularly revisit the plan and update and tweak as needed. As your goals evolve, make sure that your digital strategy is evolving, too. And as always, keep an eye out for emerging technology that your firm can leverage.

To learn more about technology priorities in the digital workplace, check out our guidebook!

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