Part 3 in a series. Read Digital Transformation Phase One and Phase Two.

By Lisa Croft

Give yourself a pat on the back, not only has your organization gone digital, but you’ve also successfully put together a plan and implemented a strategy for staying digital. You’re on the path to accomplishing more than many institutions who set out with the same goals. There’s one final step in ensuring long term success in the digital space: thinking digital.

Going digital required bringing your assets into a digital world, staying digital required you to maintain that presence, but thinking digital, however, will force you to adopt a different mindset, a proactive one, in dealing with challenges on the horizon.

How to bridge the gap

Thinking digital is more about discovering the best way to store, communicate, and receive information from a processes’ inception than it is about hopping onboard popular software or investing in expensive hardware. It’s better to think about potential digital solutions in a way that favors adoption and implementation by your company over trends that see less engagement.

If you want to bridge that gap between staying digital and thinking digital, start by giving yourself or your implementation leader some homework. Come up with a hypothetical, but realistic, situation that your company might find itself in. How will you handle it, what will your solutions be, and how will you implement those solutions?

In this hypothetical, try to bring in a process called “design thinking.” This process puts problems under a microscope and breaks down strategies for how to best approach them in a digital manner.

At the end, if you and your team are satisfied with the solutions, then you’ve made a solid step toward thinking digital.

Organizational involvement and mindset change

Of course, it’s far easier to get a small team of hand-picked employees to think digital than it is an entire organization. So how do you make sure that your mindset permeates through your organization’s staff?

As with any change, there needs to be a leader who walks the walk and talks the talk.

Good leaders can inspire people to adopt almost anything. Assigning a point person in charge of rallying the troops to think digital is a must. It doesn’t have to be the same person that was in charge of going digital, but it does need to be someone who is approachable, empathetic and believes in the cause at hand. This person will listen to the concerns of employees or the struggles that they have with this new line of thinking but also be smart enough to offer solutions and help people reframe their problems inside of a digital context.

It’s also critical that employees throughout the organization begin to see this change in the people and processes around them. Though leading by example may be cliche, it is the best way to get buy-in from others and to set the standard for your organization and how you approach new tasks and process development.

How do you know when you’ve reached full digital transformation?

There are no set parameters for a full digital transformation, the only criteria is that the digital team is doing their best to keep the momentum going. A true digital transformation will most likely only be obvious when digital solutions are no longer explicitly sought, but rather they come as the obvious and only answer.

The reason that thinking digitally is the final step is because steps one and two are largely moot if thinking digitally doesn’t follow them up. The best intentions of staying digital will fall apart if you are unable to adapt to a changing landscape of customer demands that oftentimes can only be solved by thinking digital. In short order, you will find yourself restarting the whole process if you do not approach new challenges with a digital mindset.

Something so critically important to your company’s success shouldn’t be at the mercy of leadership change, however. CEOs, CTOs and COOs come and go all the time, so how will your digital mindset weather these departures? Have redundancies in place. If leadership changes, be clear on who picks up the slack and leads the charge. Make sure that incoming leadership meets with your digital transformation team and understands fully what will be expected of them (as these plans were here first) and how you can help them get on board as quickly as possible.

None of this is exactly a walk in the park, but the benefits of going, staying, and thinking digital are so immense that your organization has no choice but to adapt to this new frontier. In time, you and your team will be able to look back on your success with pride and know that you’ve positioned yourselves to handle this new digital era.

Lisa Croft is the Group Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Document Cloud.

Digital transformation stock photo by metamorworks/Shutterstock