But every journey requires preparation and it can be difficult to know what organisations should do before getting started. What exactly needs to be in place for digital transformation to work?

To answer this question, Econsultancy recently brought together a few veterans of digital transformation to discuss what organisations need to do before they take that first step.

Below are the points summarized from the discussion.

So, the question was posed to both Damien Cummings, Lead DT Consultant at Econsultancy and CEO at Peoplewave, and Eu Gene Ang, Principal Trainer, Econsultancy – what are the basic ingredients required for a successful digital transformation?

1) Think differently

Damien was quick to answer that there is no set playbook for digital transformation. The process is different for B2B and B2C companies and can also be different, depending on the industry.

He continued that digital transformation was typically the result of a catastrophe. Either one that had happened or one that was about to happen (e.g. Google/Uber/AirBnB entering your market).

The first essential ingredient of such a situation is for people to think differently. People in the organisation must first analyze their people, technology, go-to-market strategies, and all of the other things which they are comfortable with – and think about how these can be changed to meet the threat.

2) Understand the details of your journey

Eu Gene followed up with another helpful tip.  Digital transformation, he says, must start with an understanding of why you are going through it.

It could be, as above, that your company’s market is changing or it could be that your company is struggling to be profitable with all of the manual processes in place.

Regardless, in order for digital transformation to be successful a number of details need to be thought out in advance:

  • Vision: What does the end result look like?
  • Skillsets: What do you have? What do you need?
  • Resourcing: Who is going to do the work?
  • Incentive to change: Who in the organisation is incentivized to change? Who needs more incentives?
  • Action plan: What are some of the first concrete actions you will take?

3) Have a strategy

Once you know the details, Damien continued, then you need to put a strategy in place.

This strategy should go beyond the steps you are taking toward digital transformation, but should instead encompass the whole company. For example, how is your company going to position itself to fend off threats from digitally-savvy companies?

Additionally, you need a people strategy. In addition to evaluating the skillsets mentioned by Eu Gene, you also need to make sure you have the right level of people. If you want to compete with companies like Google, then you need people with talent and training at that level.

Finally, you do need a technology strategy. Without a step change in technology and new sources of data, your plan will not have enough innovation for it to succeed in the long term.

4) Don’t worry about processes, empower your employees

Finally, Damien added that with the right strategy you won’t need to worry so much about processes.

If you have great people with the right training who understand the strategy, then they will develop the right approach to implementing your strategy.

This is particularly important for companies whose markets change quickly. As things evolve more rapidly and data becomes more real-time, then the company’s reaction must be more agile.  And for this to happen, you must empower employees to make the right decisions.


So, according to our experts, before launching into digital transformation ensure that you have a:

  1. New, resilient approach to your market
  2. A solid idea about why you need to transform
  3. A strategy which encompasses the whole company, and
  4. People who can execute the strategy.

Then you will have the key ingredients in place for a successful digital transformation project.