In a recent Harvard Business Review article, "The 4 Tiers of Digital Transformation," a tiered maturity scale is outlined spanning operational efficiencies through digital platform data-driven services. Tiers are not necessarily sequential nor mandatory, rather they depend on the needs of each individual company's transformation and business priorities. 

The tiered model presented highlights the importance of an "assessment of what digital technologies can offer." This does not make the act of transformation any simpler; it sets the goal for the organization, and this is a critical starting point -- determining what areas within the organization to transform.

Equally as important as setting goals, is an honest assessment of the organization's ability to execute the transformation and prioritize what to deliver, not just from a technology standpoint, but also from a leadership standpoint. Critical areas across the organization must be assessed and prioritized as the company strives to reach its goals. Key questions to ask include:

Is the right structure in place? Organizations must address the challenges of siloed teams. Silos exist across every organization, both within lines of business and information technology. Teams often use multiple tools, making it challenging to have a single source of truth for metrics across the business. Silos also impede collaboration across teams which disrupt the organization's ability to respond to business priorities. Organizational change is critical.

Do the right skills exist within the organization? As digital initiatives are planned, the application and integration of new technologies may require additional skills and expertise not present in the organization today. Leadership and implementation support, from external and internal sources, will be valuable to every effort and is recommended wherever experience is required. Experienced support will benefit the organization in both delivery and mentorship for the organization. An honest assessment of needed skills will result in the successful delivery of critical initiatives and will be worth the short-term investment.

Are the right tools in place? Technology investment decisions must be data-driven for maximum business and customer benefit. To ensure accurate metrics and data are available and understood across the organization, consistent data and tools must be leveraged by the organization. Too often siloed teams use different tools and often multiple sources of data, leading to inconsistencies and blurred visibility. At a minimum, the same data sources must be used and ideally, the same tools will be leveraged to provide a clear understanding and view of critical metrics.

Is the company 100% committed? Too often organizations plan and begin transformation initiatives without fully committing to meeting critical milestones and objectives. Without commitment, these efforts will fail to realize their full potential. Transformation must have achievable milestones and objectives, and each effort must be measured against those objectives.  Without checkpoints, the effort will linger along, veer offline, and rarely provide the original business outcomes.

Organizations that take the time to assess and answer these questions will be much better positioned to see their transformation come to fruition.