Lesson Learned From Early Digital Transformation Projects Show New Rules For Digital Business

Digital business transformation is one of the hottest board room topics in this year’s strategy planning cycles.  Organizations around the world believe that they must begin the transformation process but many remain uncertain how or where to begin.  Early efforts to create a Chief Digital Officer role works for media, advertising, and entertainment.  Inside other industries, early findings show Chief Information Officers and Chief Technology Officers assuming this role.  Regardless of role, digital business transformation requires a broad bench of digitally proficient leaders. 

Seven rules emerge from Constellation’s latest engagements and interactions with the Digital CXO Research Board members. Lessons learned should serve as a catalyst to move from the discussion phase to the planning phase.

  • Rule 1: Digital disruption is more than just a technology shift.  It’s about transforming business models and how organizations engage. Early leaders keep sight on the prize – business model transformation through disruptive technologies.   The goal is to create transformational business models.
  • Rule 2: We move from selling products and services to keeping brand promises. Time to market, pricing, and product differentiation are not enough in a digital world.  The high margins will come from delivering, elevating, and reinforcing brand promises. 
  • Rule 3: We serve 5 generations of customers & workers, by digital proficiency, not by age. Forget millenials, Gen-X, Gen-Y, baby bomers and others.  How we communicate, the values we share, and how we interact with technology stem from our digital proficiency, not our age.
  • Rule 4: Data is the foundation of digital business. Every touch point, every click, every digital exhaust is relevant insight. The backbone of digital comes from the broad array of data that moves into information. This information surfaces up patterns that drive insight.  Insight drives the ability to take action.  The data to decisions cycle provides the foundation for digital.
  • Rule 5: If 20 % of your revenue is not an insight stream by 2020, you won’t have a digital biz model. Expect the insights stream to provide a source of revenue.  What data can create differentiated customer experiences?  What data can be brokered?  How will you use insight to build new business models.
  • Rule 6: You need more than a Chief Digital Officer to infuse digital into your organization. You need a broad bench of Digital CXO’s. While a Chief Digital Officer can lead the charge, a broader bench of Digital CXO’s must arise. 
  • Rule 7: We must invest in digital artisans. Short of having every leader emerge as the Chief Digital Officer, the new war for talent will focus on attracting, developing, and retaining digital artisans.  Concurrently, a market will develop for  those who can spread the digital business gospel and infuse digital artistry into organizations. 

Figure 1. Seven Rules For Digital Business And Digital Transformation

The existing leadership structure in most organizations is ill-equipped to drive the change required for dominating digital disruption. Here are some lessons learned:

  1. Culture proved to be the biggest challenge. Building the right team, leadership, and values for success is not easy.
  2. Journey maps proved to be unwieldly. Prepare for everything to be contextual.  Lifecycles cease to exist.  Think in continuums.  Expect composability to address mass personalization.
  3. Technology is moving way too fast. Pace of change is fierce. Always something faster, better, and cheaper ahead.  Design for access not ownership in order to survive
  4. Budgets are all over the place. Realize there’s never enough money, but prove ROI and you’ll be funded.  Budgets are growing on the business side and IT has all the pain and compliance.

Join us October 29th to 31st for Constellation’s Connected Enterprise: The Executive Innovation Conference For Digital CXO’s and Leaders. These leaders convene to discover, share, and inspire each other on how digital business can realize brand promises, transform business models, increase revenues, reduce costs, and improve compliance.

The 3-day executive retreat will include mind expanding keynotes from visionaries and futurists, interactive best practices panels, deep 1:1 20 minute interviews with market makers, rapid fire high-energy new technology demos, The Constellation SuperNova Awards event, a golf outing, and an immersive networking event.

Have a disruptive technology implementation story? Get recognized for your leadership. Apply for the SuperNova Awards for leaders in disruptive technology.

Additional Resources

Constellation's 2014 Outlook on Dominating Digital Disruption

The Case for the Chief Digital Officer

Your POV.

Ready to begin your digital transformation? Still looking for a CDO? Let us know how you are getting there and what first steps have worked.  Add your comments to the blog or reach me via email: R (at) ConstellationR (dot) com or R (at) SoftwareInsider (dot) org.

Please let us know if you need help with your Digital Transformation efforts. Here’s how we can assist:

  • Developing your digital business strategy
  • Identifying areas for business model disruption
  • Connecting with other market leaders and fast followers
  • Sharing best practices
  • Vendor selection
  • Providing contract negotiations and software licensing support
  • Implementation partner selection


Reprints can be purchased through Constellation Research, Inc. To request official reprints in PDF format, please contact Sales .


Although we work closely with many mega software vendors, we want you to trust us. For the full disclosure policy,stay tuned for the full client list on the Constellation Research website.

* Not responsible for any factual errors or omissions.  However, happy to correct any errors upon email receipt.

Copyright © 2001 -2014 R Wang and Insider Associates, LLC All rights reserved.
Contact the Sales team to purchase this report on a a la carte basis or join the Constellation Customer Experience