How to create a digital transformation plan?

Marc Cortés

We live with a constant stream of new technological developments, which gives us the impression that our society is evolving rapidly. Certainly, digital change is unavoidable. Digitalization is a disruptive element which is accelerating the transformation of our world.  

Digital is transforming how we relate to each other, reshaping pedagogical systems, and changing both schools and universities; it has modified the concept of information and is creating a huge tsunami in communication media; it is changing the concepts of representativeness and participation, and plunging the models of both trade unions and political parties into crisis. And digital transformation is also having a powerful effect on the world of economics.  

Digital transformation has already led to the disappearance of sectors that we considered to be stable, and to the appearance of new industries and players: two opposing examples can be seen in Kodak and Google; while some players disappear, others emerge with unusual strength. In view of this situation, clearly there is no sector, profession or process which can escape the need for deep reflection on how it is affected by digital and how a digital transformation plan should be developed.  

Digitalization is forcing companies to rethink processes of all kinds: marketing, brand development, customer service, staff selection, internal communication, relationships with suppliers, market research, internationalization processes, crisis management, innovation processes, staff training… and the list goes on, covering each and every process of every organization, regardless of the particular functional area or the specific sector. 

Faced by this situation, the question that immediately comes to mind is where do I begin? We will try and provide an answer by outlining a digital transformation model and determining how to develop a plan for it. 

What is a digital transformation plan?

A digital transformation plan focuses on the 'how' and the 'what'. Digitalization involves the incursion of technology into a corporate environment and digital transformation involves how we use this technology to evolve the business model. The digital transformation plan will help us to identify what we must do and how we should do it, thereby enabling us to set objectives, generate planning and, above all, take stock of the resources needed to develop this plan. 

Digital transformation road map

This model serves as a diagnostic tool (where is my company now in relation to my target market?) and as a lever for drawing up a plan (where do I want my company to be in the future?), so that actions based on a corporate strategy can be identified. The digital transformation model is underpinned by three pillars: vision, activity and culture. 


The first lever is related with the organization's need to explore the new opportunities offered by digitalization over the next few years. It is necessary to step back from day-to-day management to survey the horizon and design a roadmap that bases the value proposition on trying to anticipate the changes that will occur (with all the risk that this involves).  

In order not to lose focus, it is necessary to develop the vision while connecting two concepts, the market and the business itself: 

  • In the case of the market, there will be a need to understand the depth of the social and behavioral changes of consumers, in order to be able to anticipate their impact.  
  • In the case of the business, there will be a need to raise new questions leading to a response that is different from the way in which the organization has responded to date.  

This point will entail making a strategic decision: how is a digital transformation plan going to be useful for me? There are two options here:  

  • First, it can be used with the aim of generating greater efficiency in the current model, as financial institutions did some years ago, where the transformation did not serve to open up new avenues of business, but to create greater efficiency in the existing line (digitalization of processes, reduction of times…).  
  • Second, it can serve to explore new opportunities linked with new business models, products or services. Here, the criterion will be to invest in unprecedented possibilities aimed at generating new revenue models. In this respect, we can see how automotive companies are exploring the field of services linked with mobility (car sharing, for example). 

Activity or business

The second lever for identifying and drawing up a plan of action is centered around the company's activity or business. The focus here is on how digitalization affects the basic functions of the business: processes, touchpoints, products and services, and monetization models. 

1. Processes  

The first steps towards digital transformation in most companies are focused on the mechanization and optimization of processes. With the first spreadsheets, computing began to make inroads into the finance and accounting departments of most companies, prefiguring the arrival of robots on production lines. 

Sectors like banking set out on this path more than thirty years ago. Digital transformation in financial institutions saw the appearance of ATMs, the disappearance of bankbooks, and the rollout of debit and credit cards. Today, every bank employee works in front of a computer terminal, and soon every customer will have access to electronic banking.  

However, the mechanization of processes is not linear across all sectors and functional areas. It is now common to see taxi drivers with GPS, but there are still some who do not accept payment by credit card. The digitalization and digital transformation of processes is uneven, but it is progressing as the profits to be drawn from its implementation begin to exceed the costs of investment.  

2. Customer touchpoints 

From 2005, people began to access the internet on a massive scale, not only to look at what companies publish, but also to take the opportunity to speak their opinion. This was what was known as the Web 2.0, later referred to more simply as social media, whose use has become widespread as a means for people to interrelate and for consumers and companies to interact, leading us today towards environments like the metaverse

This forces organizations, from within their digital transformation strategy, to shift their view of “touchpoint” from a channel perspective (I have a website, an app, a profile on social media, I send out a newsletter or I have a physical store) to an omnichannel perspective (where a central focus is given to consumer touchpoint needs).  

Beyond the conjunctural phenomena of Facebook and Twitter, people demand to be attended to 24 hours a day, every day of the year, wherever they may be, face to face, by telephone or online. Especially online. And if it is online, they want to receive a good service regardless of the device they use, be this a desktop computer, a tablet, a mobile phone... And before very long the device will be some glasses, a watch, training shoes, or a T-shirt with an internet connection. Furthermore, they want to be attended to synchronously and immediately. Right here and now.  

Thanks to the meteoric rise of mobile devices, consumers are interacting on a massive scale and their demands are spiraling. Millions of users are interacting in real time, at any time of day and in every corner of the globe.  

This has heralded the second stage in the digital transformation of a company's activity: having mechanized our back office, now we have to focus on our front office. Reviewing all our customer touchpoints requires a comprehensive redesign of processes, systems, professional profiles, and even company culture; this brings us squarely into the territory of segmented databases, user personalization and user experience, but also transparency, with markets that are increasingly well-informed. 

3. Services and products 

If a company has correctly mechanized its internal processes and also its consumer touchpoints, almost inevitably it moves on to the third stage of digitalization, centered on the design of new services and products. 

Examples of digital transformation strategies and their implementation are all around us:  Amazon suggests what books we might like to read, carriers can inform us where our goods are, telephone companies could tell us how many French people entered the country yesterday, VISA knows the average cost of a meal in every restaurant in Barcelona, a doctor can remotely monitor the vital signs of a patient who is at home... There are a host of new opportunities which were science fiction before digitalization and now, of course, they are much in demand. 

This is not innovation, but adaptation to the new environment in which one of the fundamental effects of digitalization may be observed: any product subjected to digital pressure is transformed into a service.  

4. Monetization models 

The final stage of the digital evolution of an organization's activity will involve reconsidering the monetization model, which is still surprisingly unusual. 

In most sectors, today's dominant player negotiates the first three stages more or less smoothly, but proves very stubborn towards the idea of wholeheartedly exploring this fourth stage. It would appear to be clear that the digitalization of the publishing sector will lead the business to a flat fee model, as has already occurred with music, but the large publishing groups still insist on selling physical or digital books one by one.  


In order to be competitive, it is vital to triangulate a response based on the three elements in a digital transformation plan: vision, activity, and organizational culture. Many organizations focus on strategy and the impact on business, but they forget that the culture facilitates or restrains what we have been able to define in our strategy.  

The culture is the fundamental element which will ensure things happen. And what happens depends on the set of values or characteristics that predominate in an organization. As Stephen Hawking said: “intelligence is the ability to adapt to change,” so the challenge lies in how we can make our organization intelligent through these cultural values.


In summary — as we explain in more depth in our digital transformation programs and masters, when drawing up a digital transformation plan — it is important to establish whether our aim is to generate efficiency in the organization or, on the other hand, to explore new opportunities. And the development of this plan will always involve creating and sharing a vision; identifying and executing a plan of action focused on how the various components of the business will be affected; and finally, aligning the people and the teams in pursuit of this common objective. 

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