This article is a synopsis of the March 28th World Business Forum on Digital Transformation workshop in Madrid, Spain.

Digital transformation is already a global reality, but it is a reality that has reached different levels of maturity across the planet. The digital transformation of organizations takes place precisely at the intersection of three elements: innovation, talent and technology.

Today, it is no longer astonishing that, according to IDC analysts, more than 2.1 trillion dollars will be spent on digital transformation in the next two years and that, globally, the number one priority for Fortune 1000 CEOs is digital transformation. Furthermore, the latest edition of the Global Competitiveness Index published by the World Economic Forum states that a country’s ability to innovate, manage talent and make use of technology contributes to more than a third of a country’s competitiveness prowess.

The real impact of digital transformation is that companies embracing it grow twice as fast as their competitors in the realization of digital technology. According to a study by The Design Institute, companies that invest in the user experience with digital transformation exceeded their peers by 219% between 2005 and 2015. Many companies already recognize this positive business impact and have created new roles such as Customer Experience Manager, CCO (Chief Customer Officer), and Director of Customer Experience. And it’s already in place.

Unfortunately, not everything is so simple with digital transformation and, according to a McKinsey study, 70 percent of the organizations that begin digital transformation journeys encounter major obstacles, struggling with the pace of change. There are five main reasons digital transformations can lag:

  1. CHANGE – What best encourages teams to change their ways of thinking? Which obstacles are impeding progress? Can we make this transition easier? Where is there resistance? How do we preserve knowledge and tradition?
  2. VISIBILITY – What change is the digital transformation effecting? When? How many stages? What is the objective?
  3. INFORMATION – What are the new and changing processes? Are we adapting? How Is the company tracking progress? Who’s collecting feedback? Is there a continuous flow of information?
  4. TRAINING – Am I prepared? How is my role changing? Do I have the same responsibilities as those in my job description? Is my way of working changing?
  5. LEADERSHIP – Does the management team really believe in this? How do they see it? How do you tell? What priority do they give digital transformation?

Communication should be the number one priority when facing these challenges as it helps solve the following three digital-transformation-related issues.

Firstly, communication promotes why change is necessary. It starts by facilitating access to information and knowledge for all members of staff. Managers and directors should be those who lead by example and are more willing to understand and promote digital transformation.

Secondly, communication and training are vital. Management promoting change can be much more effective if it is carried out in a transparent and communicative environment. This implies involving professionals, addressing their doubts, and informing them of the processes; above all, they need training to understand and handle the new tools and digital processes associated with digital transformation.

Thirdly, communication facilitates participation. Every professional is interested in maintaining their job or being able to opt for a better job. Understanding this, it is necessary that they are an active part in the digital transformation process. Listening to their needs and opinions becomes much more important.

Given its strategic significance and power to expedite change, digital transformation should be enacted via a campaign encompassing both external and internal communications. Storytelling is crucial because communication must connect with multiple audiences while “what is said” must really impact the organization. At the same time, it is important to choose multiple channels, ensuring connection to different audiences. Finally, communicate frequently, with rigor, with impact, with visibility and with transparency – these are key factors in the successful communication of digital transformation.

True digital transformation affects all company activity but aligning an entire organization can be a daunting task. Without the participation and commitment of the employees, even companies investing in digital will experience difficulties reaping the fruits of this investment. Effective communication is the driver for digital transformation, especially when considering the change produced by digital transformation. As Charles Darwin rightly said, “it is not the strongest or the most intelligent that will survive, but those who manage the change best” and, to manage change, communication is essential.

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