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The 6 Stages of Digital Transformation: Welcome CX Network Colleagues!

Brian Solis

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Investing in customer experience and building an infrastructure to support a customer-first approach is widely regarded as the next competitive advantage. In fact, customer experience is so important, that it represents one of the most effective catalysts for guiding businesses through meaningful digital transformation.

Digital transformation is one of the most important trends in business as it is driving change at every level. And it’s also one of those terms that means different things to different people. Over the years of studying the subject, I came to define it this way…

Digital transformation as the realignment of, or new investment in technology, business models, and processes to create new value for customers and employees and more effectively compete in an ever-changing digital economy.

According to The Global State of Customer Experience 2016, a report by Zarina de Ruiter, digital transformation was in fact one of the top priorities among executives around the world. The study focused gauged the views of global leaders – across all major industries – within customer experience, service, insight, digital and marketing, on the changes that will be defining the industry in 2016. In the survey, respondents were asked where they are today and what stage in their digital transformation they are planning to reach in 2016. The report found that half of the participating companies were situated in the early planning and implementation stages of digital transformation. The choices ranged from early planning and implementation to established, advanced and mature.

But what defines each stage of digital transformation and how do companies progress from left to right?

This is a question that I’ve long considered. Over the last several years, I set out to develop a maturity model that categorized business evolution around customer experience. I also set out to identify the attributes of each stage to help executives and change agents validate their work and also provide an informed path forward.

The maturity model is organized into six distinct stages:

  1. BUSINESS AS USUAL
  2. PRESENT AND ACTIVE
  3. FORMALIZED
  4. STRATEGIC
  5. CONVERGED
  6. INNOVATIVE AND ADAPTIVE

Collectively, these phases serve as a digital maturity blueprint to guide purposeful and advantageous digital transformation.

I invite you to download the result of this work, “The Race Against Digital Darwinism: Six Stages of Digital Transformation.”

This report introduces each of the six stages as a self-contained phase, offering a narrative and a checklist to guide the journey. While presented in a linear format, our research shows that companies may span multiple stages at once depending on their goals, resources, and overlapping initiatives. Please use this framework to validate, benchmark, and map your company’s progress toward digital literacy and leadership.