What is digital transformation?

Fact or fiction videos tackle the question

About the series

Fact or fiction? addresses common myths and misconceptions about digital transformation, while showcasing KPMG leaders’ perspectives on related topics such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, and the impact of these emerging technologies on the workforce, businesses and society. 

Episode One

Digital transformation brings people together to determine how technology can help solve business problems against the backdrop of an always-changing environment. It can also help companies predict what they want their future business to look like. KPMG's Emily Frolick explains the true meaning of digital transformation in the first episode of Fact or fiction.

Key fundamentals for achieving digital transformation

By Emily Frolick

Disrupt or be disrupted is the state of business these days, driven in large part by the ongoing — and never-ending — evolution of advanced digital technologies. To compete and, in many cases, survive, companies are asking tough questions about their core business functions that have historically contributed to their success.

While a subsequent digital transformation comes in many shapes and sizes, there are three foundational elements imperative to a successful outcome:

1. Let the employees lead

It starts with the people. While technology is instrumental in any digital endeavor, it's the workforce that holds the key to digital transformation success or failure. They know who you are, from the most exceptional qualities to knowing where the skeletons are hidden.

Companies embarking on a digital journey will be best served by leveraging their most precious and insightful asset – employees – to implement change that is both realistic and sustainable.

2. Build self-awareness  

Ensure that your organization has the right mindset for understanding what it takes to drive and maintain holistic change.

A transformation-seeking organization need not embark on wholesale rip-and-replace change. Rather, it must take an evolutionary approach that can deliver greater, lasting impact. How? By focusing on becoming the best version of what the company is or could be, and committing to the same goals.

3. Embrace the art of the possible

Finally, with employees on board and engaged, a self-aware company can embark on its digital transformation by following key tenets distilled from our cross-industry experience planning and implementing an array of digital innovations:

  • Be brave. Tackle those areas first that can deliver the biggest and best results, versus small pilots – and turn skeptics into believers.

  • Win early … and often. If months pass without noticeable results and outcomes, even the most avid supporters will be demoralized.  Set an aggressive timetable – and meet it.

  • Generate a groundswell. Success will breed more success. With more people embracing change, the organization will be propelled to make additional digital enhancements.

  • Bury the dead. Veteran companies often face a barrier to real progress: the past. Don't let legacy processes, investments and technologies hamper transformation.

  • Prioritize the transformation. If you're serious about dedicating time and resources to a wide-scale digital transformation, it can't be an add-on project.

Digital transformation is a journey, not a precise destination, and the ability to embrace these fundamentals will distinguish which companies succeed, and those who are left behind.

This article adapted from, “3 fundamentals of digital transformation,” which originally appeared on CIODive.com. For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Stephanie Trefcer.

Emily Frolick

Emily Frolick

Partner, IT Audit and Assurance, KPMG US

+1 513-763-2453

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Media contact

Stephanie Trefcer

Stephanie Trefcer

Senior Associate, Communications, KPMG US

+1 201-505-6844