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3 Digital Transformation Fundamentals


Emily Frolick, U.S. digital transformation leader at KPMG, wrote an article about three effective digital transformation fundamentals. She identified them as:

  1. Letting the employees lead
  2. Building self-awareness by tackling the tough questions
  3. Embracing the art of the possible

The state of business in today’s world boils down to disrupt or be disrupted. This is driven, in large part, by the ongoing and never-ending evolution of advanced digital technologies. In order to compete, and in many cases, survive, companies are facing tough questions about the core business functions that historically contributed to their financial success. While digital transformation comes in many shapes and sizes, there are three foundational elements that are imperative to driving successful outcomes.

3 Effective Digital Transformation Fundamentals

Let the Employees Lead

Effective digital transformation starts with the people. While technology is instrumental in any digital endeavor, it is the workforce that holds the key to its success or failure. They know all of the ins, outs, ups, and downs of your organization. Companies that are embarking on a digital transformation journey should leverage their most precious and insightful asset, employees, to implement change that is both realistic and sustainable.

Employees have an intimate knowledge of their company – the needs and pain points of customers and the opportunities or challenges that await. Their insights and experiences will generate a level of self-awareness that will ensure the company is “digitally fit.” This means that the right resources, support, and cultural mindset are in place to harness the power of enterprise-wide digital transformation. In addition, efforts are often much more successful when every employee chooses to “own” the changes being made.

Build Self-Awareness by Tackling Tough Questions

The next digital transformation fundamental is ensuring that the organization has the right mindset for understanding what it takes to drive and maintain holistic change.

A transformation-seeking organization doesn’t need to embark on wholesale rip and replace change. Instead, it must take an evolutionary approach that can deliver greater lasting impact. Companies can do this by focusing on becoming the best version of what it is or could be and committing to the same goals.

Companies must take a courageous step by removing all blinders that can impede the discovery of real insights and delay genuine change. They must answer these vital questions honestly:

  • What do we do well?
  • How and why are we lacking?
  • What fundamental problems exist that we often ignore?
  • Are we listening to the feedback we get from customers? Employees?
  • What do we want to be? What is our roadmap for getting there?
  • In what ways might a digital transformation drive growth?

Only companies with the discipline, focus, and self-awareness to asks and answer the tough questions have what it takes to take on a truly transformative digital overhaul.

Embrace the Art of the Possible

Finally, once employees are onboard and engaged, a self-aware company can embark on its digital transformation by following five key tenets distilled from cross-industry experience planning and implementing an array of digital innovations.

  1. Be brave. It may be prudent to pursue a small pilot project with moderate importance, but in order to keep the C-suite and employees excited and onboard, you will need to generate some tangible results quickly to show value for the investment. First, tackle the areas first that can deliver the biggest and best results. Turn skeptic into believers.
  2. Win early and often. In the midst of digital transformation or any other wholesale change, too many organizations grapple with fatigue. If months pass without noticeable results and outcomes, even the most avid supporters will be demoralized. Set an aggressive timetable and meet it.
  3. Generate a groundswell. Success will breed more success. With success, more people will embrace change. This groundswell of support will product self-sustaining energy that will propel the organization to make additional digital enhancements.
  4. Bury the dead. Veteran companies often face a barrier to real progress – the past. Don’t let legacy processes, investments, and technologies hamper transformation. If they seem to pose a barrier to progress, carefully weigh the pros and cons of each rationally and openly. If they have lost their value, scuttle them.
  5. Prioritize the transformation. If you are serious about dedicating time and resources to a wide-scale digital transformation, it cannot be treated as an add-on project. You should dedicate a core team to lead and manage the digital transformation initiative as their sole responsibility. Doing so will speed up the process and give it the attention it deserves.

In short, you should embrace the art of the possible. A well-executed digital transformation empowers companies to develop data-driven business models that can revolutionize industries.

Remember – digital transformation is a journey, not a precise destination. It requires the power of employees, a courageous level of self-awareness, and a bold and optimistic outlook. The ability to embrace these fundamentals will distinguish which companies succeed and those who are left behind.