Using a SWOT Analysis as a Tool for Planning Out Your Digital Transformation

Over 70% of large-scale digital transformation efforts do not deliver on their proposed goals. This startling statistic will give pause to any C-suite leader who knows that digital transformation is imperative to be competitive in the marketplace.

Someone sitting at meeting talking with their hands. Laptops and other people in background. Using a SWOT analysis as a tool for planning out your digital transformation

However, there are a number of common factors that are consistent amongst companies that succeed in their digital transformation goals. These elements include:

·     Having a clearly defined broader business strategy

·     Involving digital-savvy leadership or change management leaders

·     Engaging and getting buy-in from all levels of the company workforce

·     Adopting a culture of innovation, change and speed

With these predictive success factors in mind, it can be highly productive to execute a SWOT analysis exercise focused specifically on the effects of digital transformation on your organization. When a SWOT analysis is based on data, it’s a proven method for creating a framework for business planning and a company’s competitive position in the market.

Using SWOT analysis to understand all angles

Business leaders will often use a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) framework to identify all of the factors related to project planning. It’s a simple, yet effective tool that can also assist in forming a digital transformation strategy. Typically, the SWOT factors are listed in point form in a two-by-two grid.

Since a SWOT analysis is a brainstorming exercise that is meant to look at the business in new ways and from fresh angles, it’s best to involve both company leadership and employees at all levels. Then you’ll be able to access detailed knowledge and perspectives from other areas of the business.

Strengths

In the context of digital transformation efforts, a SWOT analysis examines the company’s internal strengths as they relate to technology, and gives your business the competitive advantage. Overall, it’s useful to ask: in what areas is the business performing well?

Questions related to digital transformation can include:

·     Teams and employees: What assets do we have and what can we draw on? (i.e. digital expertise, knowledge, skills, education)

·     What workplace technology, tools and processes are working successfully?

·     Is the company leveraging data to support decision-making?

·     How new is the technology we’re using?

·     Does our company have a digital-savvy culture that is embraced by all employees?

Weaknesses

Weaknesses are the internal aspects of your company that prevent it from being competitive. They may be negative factors that damage the perceived or actual value of the business. Missing assets and resources can also be weaknesses.  

Questions to consider include:

·     What manual processes could be automated?

·     Is workplace data a burden to manage instead of an asset?

·     Is workplace technology hindering and frustrating our workforce? (e.g.: do employees have to use multiple apps and switch between dashboards?)

·     Are there digital capabilities, knowledge, and experience gaps in our team?

Opportunities

Unlike strengths and weaknesses—which are internal to the business—opportunities and threats are external factors that could affect the digital transformation effort. Examples of opportunities are market trends and shifts, industry changes or new technology launches.

Questions that are useful to ask include:

·     What are the emerging digital opportunities in the marketplace that could support our company goals?

·     Would it be beneficial to move operations to a cloud-based service?

·     Can our tech stack be simplified by consolidating the number of apps?

·     How might a market shift encourage more people to buy what we’re selling?

·     What digital change trends can be observed now and for the future that our business can take advantage of?

Threats

In addition to opportunities, threats are the external factors that can influence a digital change initiative. These are the negative factors that your business has no control over, yet are necessary to prepare for in order to mitigate potential damage. 

Ask yourself the following questions about the business:

·     Will new government or industry regulations (e.g.: security) impact your tech delivery?

·     Are competitors changing their product or service in a way that makes it easier, simpler or more accessible for customers to use than yours?

·     How does consumer behaviour (e.g.: cashless buying, smartphone/watch payments, contactless cards) affect your business’s ability to offer a seamless purchase?   

·     Could changes in technology threaten how you do business?

·     Are the company’s processes/data and customers’ data secure from cyber threats?

Ready for Digital Transformation?

In a rapidly changing competitive environment, it’s worth running through a comprehensive SWOT framework with input from many stakeholders before embarking on a digital transformation initiative. This type of analysis enables leadership to consider all of the positive and negative internal and external factors—and identify those previously unknown—to create a sound digital transformation strategy.

About the Author

Ashiq Ahamed is the Founder & Managing Partner of SolvedAF Consulting Inc., a boutique consulting firm providing IT consulting, growth advisory, and digital transformation services. As a strategic, delivery-focused leader, he works with organizations to change their thinking when it comes to technology, implementing solutions that achieve organizational efficiencies and improve the end user experience.

Known for his ability to see the big picture, Ashiq draws on his expertise to help organizations align their technology with their business goals.

Learn more about SolvedAF at www.solvedaf.com.

If you are curious to learn more, reach out to us for a chat.

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