By Keith Krach
As DocuSign chairman, I know a little something about how to conduct a digital transformation. With our digital transaction management platform, DocuSign has helped more than 300,000 companies in 188 countries around the world launch their own digital transformations.
In the spirit of helping other business leaders on this path, I spoke onstage with Selling Power magazine founder Gerhard Gschwandtner at the 2018 Sales 3.0 Conference in San Francisco last week. I focused on the five digital transformation imperatives and how they can help companies avoid what I call “Failed Transformation Traumatic Syndrome,” or FTTS.
The business community has traditionally valued leadership qualities like integrity, strategic thinking, and the ability to engage employees, but a business leader who navigates digital transformation requires additional talents.
Leadership in the context of the first transformation imperative means a willingness to openly communicate with employees, colleagues, and shareholders – not just about victories, but about challenges. In addition to being open about obstacles the company faces, leaders must also act boldly and forgo the status quo when necessary. In turn, the very best leaders inspire the same boldness in their employees by skillfully communicating a shared vision.
No company can complete a digital transformation without embracing technology. As the second transformation imperative, leaders must approach technology as the catalyst that will push their company to become an industry trailblazer and create a new path that competitors will follow.
Technology demands that leaders not wait for a technology to become mainstream before implementing it, but to adopt early and model the way for others – aligning with strategic technology partners as a way to stay ahead of competitors and capture more of the market.
The third transformation imperative relates to a leader’s mindset – the perspective they take when charting a company’s course.
Digital transformation leaders place a high value on three core actions: simplifying processes, building momentum through quick wins, and learning. Focusing on simplifying processes leads to greater efficiency and adaptability and gives the company the ability to zero in on the quick wins that keep the forward motion going. Streamlining operations and netting quick wins promote acceleration and prevent stagnancy, keeping the company from being left behind as the tide of digital transformation continues to flow.
The mindset imperative also requires a leader to remain open-minded about new ideas – as well as open to learning from as many people as possible.
Trust is no less crucial to business in the digital age than it has ever been – and it may be even more important now as companies expand to global markets.
Customers must be able to trust the businesses with which they interact – and know that the products or services they purchase will work as promised. DocuSign customers are pursuing their own digital transformations and trying to stay ahead. The fourth transformation imperative also emphasizes trust between leaders and their staff members, partners, and shareholders. Mutual trust and respect are absolutely necessary if a leader is to guide a company or a B2B sales team through a digital transformation.
The number one currency in business today is speed – the primary differentiator between competitors. It’s also the backbone of any digital transformation.
Leadership teams committed to avoiding FTTS and succeeding in the digital age know that the best way to do so is to provide a better quality product faster than the competition can. As I noted in my DocuSign MOMENTUM 16 keynote, it is no longer the big who eat the small in today’s market, but the fast who eat the slow.
Krach has served as the chairman of the board of DocuSign for eight years and previously served as the CEO for six years. Under his leadership, DocuSign experienced 60x growth by building the DocuSign Global Trust Network, made up of more than 300,000 companies, including strategic partnerships with many of the world’s most powerful technology companies. He drove DocuSign’s global expansion from 75 employees to more than 2,000 employees, including four acquisitions. Krach co-founded Ariba (ARBA on Nasdaq) in 1996, serving as chairman and CEO for seven years. Krach took Ariba public in 2000, ultimately achieving a market capitalization of $34 billion and becoming one of the fastest growing software companies in history.