The 5 C’s of Successful Digital Transformation Strategy

By Jeff Wilk

Simply stated, when it comes to a successful Digital Transformation Strategy, incentives alone don’t work. Even the most superbly executed transformation projects will have a ZERO ROI without user adoption. For those thinking “that’s when you get rid of the carrots and bring out the stick,” it gets even worse: mandates based on disincentives can drive users away from not just your technology, but also your firm.

So, what do you do? Is there a way to deliver a positive ROI through high user adoption and satisfaction? Are there proven methodologies to accomplish these often seemingly disparate yet critical goals on the first try?  Absolutely.

In its most basic sense, it all comes down to the “5 C’s of Technology Adoption:”

  1. Contextual Design
  2. Collaboration
  3. Communication
  4. Change Management
  5. Carrots

Here is a brief explanation of each of these:

  1. Contextual Design. Contextual Design Theory (CDT) has proven that the initial key to digital transformation starts with going into the user’s environment to interact and observe what users do where they work – their natural contexts. This provides insights into what they do today and what is needed tomorrow to be more efficient in their jobs. This is what context is all about, and it is the cornerstone of any successful transformation.
  2. Collaboration. Nobody in your organization has all the right answers or the best ideas. A team-based collaborative development process drives a more productive process and far more effective result. Design teams need the Development team, end users need the Design teams, and Trainers need input from everyone. That’s the simple truth about collaboration; everyone’s perspective is equally important.
  3. Communication. Whether you abide by the “Marketing Rule of 7” or other psychological studies which suggest anywhere from an individual needing to hear new information between 6 and 30 times to learn it, you must stay in constant communication with your team and end users. You must repeat your messages multiple times via multiple formats, not just throughout your transformation project but long after.
  4. Change Management. Perhaps the most often overlooked element of a successful transformation strategy, adopting a thorough Change Management process is as critical as all of the other steps: preparing the organization for the need for change, creating a future vision for all to understand, developing the transformation to match the vision while gradually embedding it into the firm culture and processes, and then entering a looped cycle of reviewing, analyzing, and adapting. This last cycle needs to become a constant process.
  5. Carrots. Everybody needs a balanced diet, and incentives are an important part of transformational success when taken in moderation. Incentives alone, however, can have the opposite effect long-term.  Offered often and without careful planning, the positive effects of carrots will go away, and your users will still not have taken the time needed to acclimate themselves and realize the benefits of the change. Applied strategically, incentives can help drive adoption through induced usage, where you need to be able to quickly demonstrate the efficiencies and personal benefits to them during this time.

Oyster Consulting has designed and led successful Digital Transformations and tech stack revitalization efforts, leveraging these basic steps and others that cater to your firms’ unique needs, capabilities, and vision.  Our consultants’ extensive leadership and practitioner careers allow them to provide practical solutions, industry intelligence and comparable benchmarks by which your firm can be measured. Our industry insights help you make the right decisions to move your firm forward. 

About The Author
Photo of Jeff Wilk

Jeffrey Wilk

Jeff Wilk started his career as an Advisor and has a strong track record of executive success in strategic planning and execution, business assessment, transformation and growth. Jeff was directly accountable for several mergers/acquisitions, product and digital platform transformations, patent-pending products, and operating model RFPs and overhauls, including delivering the industry’s first “Robo” platform.