Digital road maps are essential on your digital transformation journey, as they build a vision of how your business will get transformed in today’s digital economy. IDC’s research shows a clear correlation between having a digital road map that is integrated with the business strategy and the company’s overall digital status. For example, most  digitally mature organisations have a single integrated digital road map in place, whereas companies that are lagging behind — digital laggards — have no digital road map.

The best approach to developing digital road maps is to break them down into horizons that are then broken down into modular use cases. To generate the level of alignment required in a digital road map, it is best to focus first on a very abstract and advanced use case that can be seen as digital vision, and then reverse engineer it to know what a company has to do in the midterm and in the short term to become the company it wants to be.Source: IDC's Global DX Leaders Survey, May 2018

Source: IDC’s Global DX Leaders Survey, May 2018

What are the essential steps to developing a clear digital road map and becoming a digitally mature company?

  1. Create a culture of experimentation with a focus on business value. To develop a digital road map that has innovation at the core, it is important to create an environment where people are allowed to fail. Putting in place the mechanisms to generate as many ideas as possible to uncover new ways of solving problems is critical. Nonetheless, the ideation process will be fruitful only if the focus is on the real-life challenges or opportunities of a specific organisation.
  2. Organise for continuous delivery. While the potential of technology grows exponentially, the pace of change increases at a vertiginous pace. Therefore, an organisation’s digital vision needs to be ambitious enough to drive competitiveness in the future, but the effort should be broken into very specific use cases to make this radical change more digestible. These use cases should be linked to key performance indicators (KPIs) that are in line with the expected business value for the project. Additionally, the people involved should have deep understanding of the goals associated with the use case and be empowered to make decisions about how to achieve them. Finally, mechanisms should be in place to receive continuous feedback from the ecosystem to generate continuous improvement and re-define objectives in alignment with customer needs.
  3. Manage several stakeholders. The vast majority (76%) of the attendees at IDC’s 2018 CIO Summit have set a personal goal to develop their role as a CIO further in the next few years. Their goal is to develop more in the direction of developing and executing the broader digital transformation strategy of the entire organisation. In IDC’s view, the role of future CIOs in the overall digital transformation will be that of orchestrators of the totality of the systems running in their organisations, but also the structures, budgets and people that are part of their company’s digital road map. Therefore, it is important that CIOs be able to identify the key stakeholders involved in each of the use cases they are looking to incubate and create a framework for cross-team collaboration to ensure success during deployment.

By following a clear road map, organisations are not distracted with multiple strategies. Instead, they can accelerate their digital transformation journey — aligning and mobilising their resources to rapidly create new products and services to respond to customers’ needs.

This article is part of the IDC series “Your pathway to digital success,” written to inspire business leaders to overcome common challenges along their organisations’ journeys.