By Billy Collins
Plenty of organizations talk about embracing technology to manage operations and deliver services, what many call a “digital transformation.” But being ready to take that step is an entirely separate conversation.
Digital readiness speaks to how prepared you are to use technology to increase your organization’s impact. Do you have the tools, the data and the know-how to quickly pivot when client and community needs shift? Likewise, do you have the infrastructure to support your digital ambitions?
Assessing digital readiness before you dive into a project is critical to delivering an experience that resonates with your stakeholders, including staff, clients, funders and others. There is no one action you can take to ensure readiness. But there are three broad ways to determine whether you have the right foundational elements in place to secure long-term success. Without these cornerstones, any investments you make in design, accessibility and tool development will be wasted.
1. You know — really know — what experience your audiences want
How do you know what experience your audience wants and needs from you? Unless your answer is “through qualitative research,” then you have work to do.
Too often, organizations make decisions about their audience based on a gut feeling. Your gut might be right. But if not, you risk wasting funding and time you can’t get back on tools your audience won’t use.
Your stakeholders are an oracle. They’ll tell you what they want and how they want to interact with you — if you listen to them. That means research. User surveys, interviews and workshops are all fantastic ways to gather data. Google Analytics, heat maps and other tools can provide further context by revealing how clients interact with your existing digital assets.
Armed with this information, you can develop stakeholder’s personas and journey maps to determine what your they really want, as well as how they make their decisions.
2. Your efforts are guided by a digital roadmap
The next measure of readiness for digital transformation is knowing where you want to go and how you will get there. Naturally, your digital roadmap should be guided by the personas and journey maps you developed. It should also be informed by one-, three- and five-year look-aheads, along with a plan for building out your infrastructure to support this vision.
Much like stakeholder research, this is not a step to be skipped or rushed. Start with the outcomes that matter most to you, and shape your tools from there. Doing so helps to ensure you are investing in your business goals rather than pursuing digital for the sake of digital. It will also keep your key performance indicators front and center so that you can effectively measure ROI — and prove the value of your efforts to stakeholders.
3. You have a digital champion who is accountable for your roadmap
Digital is so all-encompassing, who owns it isn’t always clear. But distributing accountability for your digital roadmap across functions is a sure-fire way to lose momentum. Instead, you need a champion with decision-making capacity and a seat “at the table” to head up your digital transformation strategy. By marrying the strategic and financial perspectives of your transformation with a single point of contact, you’ll have greater success developing a cohesive strategy, marshaling resources and seeing your plan through.
When you’re ready to make the leap
Digital readiness, like digital transformation itself, is not a one-and-done event. It is a process you need to engage in regularly to detect new areas of weakness and discover emerging opportunities. Truly mastering the process involves shifting your thinking from stand-alone launches to innovation sprints that are responsive to your users’ changing expectations.
The good news? You don’t need to tackle everything at once, and you don’t need to go it alone. If you lack the resources to conduct extensive stakeholder research or the time to build a bulletproof technology roadmap, you can call in digital specialists to assist. Wipfli Digital works with companies to collect metrics that matter and uncover game-changing opportunities to create stakeholder experiences that stand apart.