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Given the ubiquity of technology, it might be surprising to learn that digital technology and strategic thinking have only begun to transform the financial industry. According to McKinsey and Company, less than 40 percent of all industries are digitized, despite the relatively deep penetration of technology in the financial industry and its surrounding verticals.

As digitization becomes mainstream, it will decrease revenue and profit growth for some, especially the bottom third of companies, while the top third will profit and prosper disproportionately. Holistic and tightly integrated digital strategies will be the biggest differentiators between firms that win and those that don’t, and the biggest winners will be those that initiate digital disruptions.

Looking at the current winners of early digital transformation, more than twice as many leading companies closely tie their digital and corporate strategies. Even more important, winners tend to respond to digitization by changing their corporate strategies significantly. This might seem obvious: many digital disruptions require fundamental changes to business models. According to McKinsey and Company, 49 percent of leading companies are investing in digital more than their counterparts do, compared with only 5 percent of the laggards, 90 percent of which invest less than their counterparts. It’s pretty evident that heavy digital investment is a differentiator.

When disruption is not an option

As a legacy financial services provider, it can be extremely challenging to develop and execute a disruptive strategy. The next best thing to disruption is fast-following the disruptors and executing extremely well. This is good news for credit unions, since many of them are carefully watching tech startups to identify the winning plays and then imitating them on their own scale. This strategy requires cutting-edge agility to be ahead on all the operational and organizational aspects of digital maturity.

Top barriers to achieving operational excellence are linked to lack of metrics, insufficient data, and organizational silos. Being committed to digital transformation doesn’t always equate to being able to overcome those barriers. Again, technology is not the solution. It’s one tool in the digital transformation toolbox.

The winning formula: People + Process + Technology

 With the proper technology in place, processes can be redesigned and people can be empowered. This is, of course, provided that there’s strong leadership supporting the transformation journey. Technology doesn’t disrupt your business – people do. Social, mobile and cloud technologies are changing our behavior, at home and at work. With smart phones and tablets, people have come to expect constant connectivity, with the ability to access information, make a purchase or connect with others around the world, at any time.

Employees are bringing those expectations to work. They’re wanting to use technology to make them faster, smarter and better at their jobs. They have little patience for outdated technologies, long ramp-up times and extensive training. They want to collaborate with colleagues and customers without barriers. With cloud computing and personal devices, people have more options for working around perceived barriers to their productivity or effectiveness.

Technology needs to adapt to people. To that end, business technology needs to fit seamlessly into the workflow. Only by making it easy for people to transform can operational excellence be achieved and digital transformation occur.

Take your own digital transformation journey at THINK 17. Register now.