How to Make a Successful Digital Transformation


Digital transformation. It’s one of those terms lots of people throw around these days, like Internet of Things, often without really understanding what it means. A digital transformation is when an organization moves all its business processes to current technology. Instead of using outdated systems and protocols, it adopts faster, easier, often more efficient technology, organization-wide.

These days, everything from buying groceries to hiring employees is done through ever-changing technologies, often using mobile devices. In order to serve customers/members, organizations have to provide the kind of speed and convenience other businesses have made the norm. Switching all those processes is obviously complex and creates numerous challenges. So it’s important to carefully plan it in stages in order to disrupt the business as little as possible. A successful digital transformation is an iterative process that takes time to realize its full potential.

Get Everyone On Board

Because it is so pervasive throughout the organization, and requires everyone’s cooperation, the executive team must throw its full support behind the process. Each department will have to understand what pain points the change is going to solve for customers and what pain points it might incur for employees having to learn new processes. Everyone needs to be onboard to work together to solve these pain points.

Start With an MVP or Two

While you will eventually transform the whole organization, you begin with one to two minimal viable products that will result in quick wins so employees and members can see an immediate impact. Examples might be creating a mobile portal for the application process, or boosting auto loan volume. Whatever it is, start with a concept and see it end to end so the team can see results quickly. Each transformation will build understanding about how to tackle the next one more seamlessly and build stories of success that inspire confidence and excitement for the next iteration.

Introduce Change in Phases

You’re changing technologies, processes, workflows, and in some cases employees’ roles. And you’re moving customers from one system to another. Consequently there are human as well as technological hurdles to overcome. In fact the human ones tend to be the most difficult. That’s why it helps to work with a partner that understands banking processes and services, regulatory and security requirements, and technology as well as human resource and change management.

Change is always difficult for people. A firm commitment is required to see it through to the end. The executive team must decide at the outset that it’s making these changing for the long-term good of the organization and its members and be prepared to ride out the rough patches. If they have that mentality, it will empower the rest of the organization. Over time, the rewards will provide a self-perpetuating motivation. But executives have to lead everyone to that point.

Identify Quick Wins

Identify your organization’s biggest pain points, then start with the quick wins. For example, how much revenue would be generated if you were able to increase the percentage of approved loans to funded loans? How much more profitable would your credit union be if you could successfully cross-sell mortgages to your indirect auto loan members?

Use that analysis to evaluate which systems and technology you want to keep or replace. Once you begin the transition of a particular system or process, recruit small groups of employees to beta test the program and identify any bugs or issues you might not have considered. These should be enthusiastic advocates of the change who will be best at seeking solutions rather than turning negative when problems present themselves. This beta team should embrace the philosophy of fail fast. When you try some ideas that don’t work—which is bound to happen—this fail fast mentality will help you adjust quickly.

With the rapid evolution of technology and consumer tastes and habits, change is going to have to become a habit rather than an aberration. A digital transformation is a great place to start.