How to make a successful digital transformation

Many managers today are involved in a transformation to a more digital organisation, in order to continue to cater to the needs of their target group. The search term ‘digital transformation’ brings up 373,000 hits in the search machines.


Headlines such as ‘What does the digital transformation mean?’ and ‘Five steps for achieving a digital transformation’ appear daily in newspapers and professional magazines. Despite this, many managers have difficulty in finding an answer to the question: ‘How do I succeed in making a digital transformation?’ I have undergone a large part of a digital transformation process and I would like to give in this blog three tips to managers who are about to start such a process.

1. Not a management party

The management has to take the decision as to whether the organisation should initiate a digital transformation. They believe with all their heart in the transformation. But if the process is to succeed, this belief must be felt throughout the whole company. It is easy to take decisions at the top of the organisation, but a digital transformation demands change by the whole organisation, both management and all employees. So don’t let it become a management party. Make sure that each employee can make a contribution to the transformation. For example, set up employee panels for gathering ideas. After all, employees provide your company’s service day after day and know exactly where to make decisive changes in efficiency and work satisfaction.

2. Let go of the strings
Employees often hide behind their job title. ‘This is not part of my task’ is a sentence you hear a lot in the business community. In order to tempt them from their comfort zone and to discover talents, it is important to let them choose a role. They are then responsible in self-managing teams for a specific part of the digital transformation. This promotes solidarity and the employees feel as if they are a genuine part of the process. By linking employees to each other, you ensure open communication. This can generate surprising ideas and you create together the path to digital transformation. It can be unsettling for management to relinquish control, but employees learn much more by finding an appropriate solution for themselves rather than constantly being told what to do by a manager holding up his pedantic finger.

3. Get employees on board for your vision
No matter how enthusiastic you may be about the digital transformation, you must get your employees to share your enthusiasm. Make sure your employees are on board from the very start. Turn your vision into a personal story and make clear to your employees ‘what’s in it for them’. How will they profit from the transformation? If everybody is open for the changes that are going to take place in the organisation, people will all pull together and the commitment will remain ‘sky high’.

Organising a digital transformation within the company is an enormous challenge. If the transformation enjoys broad support throughout the organisation, success is guaranteed. In this way, the investments and efforts made will be recouped and doors will open to new market opportunities.