Strategy, Simplified

We see many organizations with digital transformation efforts that appear stuck in quicksand,  struggling with buy-in and stakeholder alignment. It usually comes down to one very important missing element: “an execution strategy that aligns with business goals.” Often they’re unsure how to get the right people focused on the right things to even put one in place. 

In fact, our own Digital Transformation Readiness Survey tells us that 57 percent of organizations see internal alignment as one of the biggest barriers to digital transformation. At the same time, we know that enterprises realizing transformative success have more involvement from their C-Suite and Boards than their peers. 

If you don’t already have those things, where to start?

While quicksand isn’t nearly as dangerous as it looks in the movies, it is real and it’s the last place you want your digital transformation efforts to end up. To help we’ve outlined the key components to consider as you’re putting a strategy in place along with a surefire way to identify the right building blocks, start small and get the quick wins to help drive buy-in and alignment throughout the organization. 

Key Components of a Digital Strategy

Being a digital organization – an organization that uses technology as a competitive differentiator – is the first step in developing a solid strategy. From there, our research tells us these are the most important elements of digital transformation success and I recommend starting with a quick and honest assessment of where you stand against them. 


Despite expanding IT budgets, organizations still aren’t getting closer to true transformation. Why? Because even though the 2019 State of IT report revealed that 89 percent of companies surveyed were expanding their IT budgets in 2019, they cited outdated technologies and infrastructures as the primary reasons for the increase. But how much of those dollars are going to innovation? Leading enterprises report having a separate fund for innovation and digital transformation instead of trying to compete for those dollars as part of the annual IT budget. 

According to a recent Deloitte global survey: “To get the most mileage from their innovation budgets, many CIOs are looking outside their IT organizations for additional innovation resources, engaging with innovation labs, technology hubs, business incubators and accelerators, venture capitalists and private equity firms, and other organizations that encourage rapid innovation.”


Dr. Caroline Carney, the Chief Medical Officer for one of our partners, Magellan Rx Management, said it best: “Unless we are inside a company that understands the potential that tech has or that digital has to change healthcare, the tool in and of itself will never get there. I’ve been a big proponent of wrapping humans around tools. I’m a believer that the tools and technology can get us very far, but they still need to take place in a system of care.”

So you need the right people, too. And, increasingly, the type of type of people needed to transform the healthcare experience are very different from the humans we normally encounter inside our organizations. By that I mean, a workforce with vastly different skills than we’re used to recruiting for in healthcare who can help us see and read the data differently as well as those who can help us think differently. 

This kind of culture of innovation and innovative thinking starts from the top. “Healthcare is and will always be about relationships and execution,” says Cityblock Health CEO and Co-founder Iyah Romm. “So for us, it’s about how we use tools to relate better to people that we care for and engage with and to be able to execute more effectively than others around us.”


Digital transformation is dependent on where the organization is and where it wants to be, and no two organizations are alike. “A lot of people talk about digitizing healthcare,” says MDLive CEO Rich Berner. “For me, that’s the wrong place to start. Where we really have to start is say, what problem are we trying to solve?”

Engaging leadership to align digital transformation strategy with overall business strategy incorporates higher CEO and leadership involvement and provides clear goals. Our research shows that leading enterprises have 30 percent higher CEO involvement in outlining strategy than other enterprises. While senior leadership must be highly engaged, a common mistake for organizations is chasing a CEO’s shiny idea without having the building blocks to make it possible. 


Organizations experiencing success have mapped digital strategies leveraging technology to change how business objectives are achieved and drive business value, typically in the areas of customer experience, employee experience, or business model. Compare that to old mindsets about merely applying technology to ensure basic “lights on” services and containing costs.

With clarity about your business goals, you can begin to align your digital transformation efforts (and your key stakeholders) accordingly. 

Identifying the Right Building Blocks


With the above key considerations in mind, the most important part of your journey is to find a partner who understands how to help you navigate your own organizational limitations and who understands the unique challenges healthcare poses when it comes to applying digital technologies to solve problems and drive business value. 

This one step can save you tons of valuable time and headache. Then leverage your partner’s expertise to help develop a plan of attack and define what digital transformation looks like for your organization. 

What are the digital building blocks that will enable competitive differentiation? The simplest way to do this is through a matrix-based mapping of impact versus business priorities. It allows you to prioritize when there are so many options to choose between that you can’t easily tell what really matters. 

This is where we you select your axes: more urgent/less urgent vs. more important/less important. This will give you clear direction, your definite yeses, your maybes, your unnecessaries and your not-worth-the-efforts.

With the right partner and the right people in the room, this can be an hours-long process versus a months-long one. 

Progressive Steps Forward

The journey to an enterprise-wide digital strategy will have tons of pivots throughout. Organizations that try to define a set-in-stone digital roadmap for the next three years will either have a hard time achieving it or will realize that it took a different form than originally planned. 

The vitality of digital transformation depends on the timelines of these building blocks, whether that be 90-day sprints or six-month sprints, accomplishing digital transformation bit by bit fuels the organization to believe in the feasibility of digital transformation. 

Accomplishing these milestones propels the entire organization, and its stakeholders, to understand the value of digital transformation and sparks interest from those not originally aligned. 

Digital transformation can be challenging, especially when everyone is not on board. emids is focused on helping our customers make digital doable; a partner that helps navigate the digital transformation journey and knows how to gain buy-in from the entire organization.

As we continue to dive in to the “Elements of Simple,” up next we will uncover the ways design, experience, data and convergence play a role in making digital doable. 

As Healthcare Technology Solutions (HTS) president at emids, Kumar Kolin focuses on strategic initiatives, growth and research and development. Kolin leads the Innovation Team by serving as executive leader of Cloud Engineering. With over 25 years of success managing and leading high-performance technology teams, he served as Technology Partner, Deputy CIO and Digital Innovation Leader at industry giant Deloitte. Kolin is also founder and CEO of cloudx, a company designed to create an integrated partnership of domain, design and engineering constructed to reboot how technology services are delivered. Be sure to connect with Kumar on LinkedIn.

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