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Key considerations for digital transformation in retail

Facing macro-competitive pressures coupled with the pandemic’s impact, retailers are forced to develop cloud-centric IT capabilities to improve customer experience and scale.

While digital transformation comes with inherent challenges, the shift to the cloud will accelerate innovation and improve performance while reducing IT risk. Here are a few key areas to consider to ensure a successful digital transformation journey for your organization:

Define the key strategic advantages of your digital transformation

Successful digital transformation should start with encompassing your top business objectives and being inclusive of all stakeholder viewpoints. Starting with this approach will ensure that your investments in IT will be aligned to business outcomes that are shared across the enterprise. 

Before you begin, ask: What are we hoping to achieve with our digital transformation initiative? Define your enterprise set of goals, and then thoroughly research the available talent and actions required to achieve those goals. Establishing clear milestones and success criteria will not only give your digital transformation structure, but it will also ensure that you are gaining buy-in from the various business and IT stakeholders.

Secure key stakeholder buy-in to ensure financial commitment for the journey

Understanding key stakeholder viewpoints and objectives is critical to a successful digital modernization program. Stakeholders must include the end users who will ultimately be the consumers of the technology. Put yourself in their shoes: What’s in it for them? How will this change improve their productivity, and make systems run more smoothly? Answering these types of questions, and communicating those answers, will ensure a successful digital transformation.

As with any large transformation program, communication is critical to a successful migration. All interested parties should receive consistent and transparent updates on the progress of the program as well as any major obstacles to be overcome.

Digital transformations are always going to require change and will disrupt the existing IT model. Communicating early, often, and effectively how these changes are positively impacting the business, IT and key stakeholders will ensure they understand the value proposition and remain committed to project success.

Identify early-stage projects that can give you some quick wins and build momentum

It’s important to remember that digital transformation isn’t a single project with a clearly defined end. It’s a journey, with clearly defined milestones along the way. Structuring that journey to ensure quick, measurable wins at the outset and will make everyone more comfortable with, and excited about, the short-term and long-term benefits of the program.

Finding the right partner

In many cases, a digital transformation will require a set of skills that your organization doesn’t have immediately on-hand. Engaging an outside expert is often a vital component to developing a successful roadmap for your digital transformation journey. Never be afraid to seek outside help; this is a considerable undertaking, and you want an experienced and proven partner to help you ensure its success.

Build a list of potential partners and take the time to examine their technical, managerial, and client expertise. Interview several of their customers privately and ask for honest and critical feedback. Your due diligence will go a long way in helping you achieve both your company and personal goals and objectives. The best providers will give you a complete solution for your organization that includes an agile-based methodology, a digital platform, the right APIs, migration toolkits, and automation to make the process easier and faster.

Eddie Ambler is deputy CTO, BIAS Corp.

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