<< Back

Leading Digital Transformations


Alright colleagues, hold onto your keyboards because we're talking big numbers here. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Spending Guide, we're looking at a whopping $3.4 trillion being poured into Digital Transformation (DX) investments by 2026. That's right, DX is the name of the game, and it's all about using technology to revamp how businesses operate, interact with customers, and create new opportunities.

But let's be real, it's not all smooth sailing. Sure, digital transformation can reshape customer expectations and open doors to new ventures, but it also comes with a whole bunch of challenges. And I'm not talking about trying to understand why your new smart fridge won't stop ordering milk. No, no, no. We're talking about serious organizational challenges here. You need visionary leaders who can integrate tech like nobody's business while also getting the whole team on board.

So, if you're ready to lead your organization to successfully harness the wild-wild digital future, read on.

Opportunities for Leaders

According to Zippia's study conducted in November 2022, a whopping 70% of organizations are currently developing or have a digital transformation strategy in place. It's no surprise, as these investments are crucial for companies to stay relevant and competitive in the future. As a result, this presents an opportunity for leaders with the rare combination of strategic decision-making skills and the ability to rapidly adapt to change.

Enter the Portfolio/Program/Product/Project Managers (PMs), who are natural leaders with a deep understanding of business and polished organizational skills. PMs play a crucial role in digital transformations, bringing together teams, streamlining operations, and promoting innovative practices that last long after the changes have been implemented.

Indeed, PMs have already led many industries toward the benefits of emerging technology and organizational change. Behemoths such as GE, Walmart, Capital One, BMW, and industries like telemedicine and precision agriculture have all benefited from these strategic leaders.

GE and Walmart are prime examples of successful digital transformation strategies, with artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) playing a vital role in improving efficiency and cost savings. Capital One, on the other hand, has successfully implemented data analytics, machine learning, and cloud computing to enhance the customer experience and streamline internal processes, which resulted in higher efficiency, better risk management, and significant cost savings.

BMW has taken a different route with its digital strategy by implementing IoT and data analytics to optimize production processes and enhance vehicle performance, leading to increased efficiency and cost reduction. In the medical field, digital transformation has been realized through the adoption of electronic health records and telemedicine, which have significantly improved patient care and facilitated collaboration among medical professionals. Meanwhile, the agriculture industry has benefited from the use of precision agriculture techniques such as IoT, data analytics, and machine learning to optimize crop yields and reduce waste, resulting in increased productivity and cost savings.

Hey, did you catch all those fancy-sounding terms like cloud computing, IoT, data analytics, and machine learning mentioned earlier? Quite the mouthful, right? But here's the thing, even if you're a PM without a background in engineering, coding, or IT, you can't just ignore these initiatives. And as an organizational leader, you may very well be tasked with leading large-scale DX efforts. Why? Because, my friend, technology is just a fraction of the equation. Like 20% of the equation!!!

What most people don't realize is that digital transformation is about much more than simply implementing new tech. It's about bootstrapping an organization into fundamentally rethinking the way we work in order to serve our customers in an ever-evolving market. To make it work, great leaders need to combine innovative and disciplined execution with a focus on change management, upskilling, and training. It's a delicate balance, but if you can strike it just right, you'll be on your way to successful technology integrations and transformational change.

The Evolving Role of a Leader

In the world of digital transformation, success is not simply a matter of investing in new technology. It requires a fundamental shift in thinking and a willingness to embrace change. As leaders, one of your biggest challenges will be getting your employees and stakeholders to buy into the process and stay engaged over the long haul.

Digital transformation is not a one-and-done event; it's a journey that requires ongoing adaptation and improvement. This process upends traditional leadership and stakeholder management practices in several ways:

  1. Balanced project management: To succeed with digital projects, you need a mix of agile and traditional approaches.
  2. Change in Leadership: Implementing new technologies and change management demands a more flexible leadership style that emphasizes vision, collaboration, and adaptability.
  3. Collaborative stakeholder approach: Enterprise-wide transformations require a more iterative, frequent approach to stakeholder engagement.
  4. New skills, job changes: Digital transformation can challenge traditional roles and require new skills, leading to job changes or retraining and resistance.
  5. Collaboration is key: Successful digital strategies rely on collaboration across departments, partners, and vendors.
  6. Resistance to disruption: Change is hard, and digital transformation can be disruptive, leading to resistance from stakeholders who may not understand the process or fear of losing their jobs.

To navigate this complex landscape, leaders must be clear about the organization's digital strategy, communicate effectively, and manage the change management process. This includes involving all stakeholders, providing training at all levels of the organization, and offering support to ensure a smooth transition to the new digital way of working. With a clear vision and a collaborative approach, digital transformation can help organizations stay competitive and thrive in an ever-changing world.

Evolution of Project Management, Leadership, and Stakeholders in a Digital Era

In order to lead large-scale digital transformations, it's important for leaders to keep learning, evolving, and adapting their skills. Here are some tips to help enhance those skills:

  1. Facilitate the developing of a clear vision and strategy that aligns with the organization's goals.
  2. Acquire knowledge about the technology being used and collaborate with technical teams.
  3. Understand the financial and strategic implications of the transformation.
  4. Assemble cross-functional teams with expertise in technology, data, and operations.
  5. Drive strategy decisions based on data and tie back to customer-driven outcomes.
  6. Prioritize initiatives that align with the vision and strategy.
  7. Adopt agile methodologies and project management best practices.
  8. Foster collaboration, stay informed, be open to feedback, and continuously learn to improve your plan and execution.
  9. Collaborate with stakeholders and communicate the benefits of the transformation.
  10. Track performance with Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and Key Performance Indicator (KPIs), and monitor progress, identify potential risks, communicate often, and take decisive action.

Leading a digital transformation project requires staying up-to-date on the latest technology developments, change management procedures, and project execution methods to navigate the ever-evolving digital landscape successfully.


When a business undergoes a digital transformation, it gains significant advantages such as increased customer satisfaction, improved productivity, and the ability to compete in a constantly evolving market. Achieving success in transforming a large company requires a clear vision and strategy, a cross-functional team, a prioritized list of initiatives, a plan to leverage technology advancements, effective communication of the transformation's benefits to all stakeholders, consistent progress monitoring, and a willingness to continuously adapt and improve. In this endeavor, PMs are uniquely positioned to lead and drive the transformation forward, using their familiarity with the organization, its personnel, established relationships, and the ability to lead stakeholders and teams across the enterprise. Their skills in managing projects and implementing change can make all the difference in realizing the full potential of digital transformations for businesses. To be a successful leader responsible for executing a digital transformation, you'll need to transform yourself first. The transformation starts with you!!


  1. IDC Spending Guide Sees Worldwide Digital Transformation Investments Reaching $3.4 Trillion in 2026 - October 26, 2022 www.idc.com
  2. Spending on digital transformation technologies and services worldwide from 2017 to 2026 - Nov 14, 2022, www.statista.com
  3. 37 incredible digital transformation statistics [2023]: need-to-know facts on the future of business - Nov 2022, www.zippia.com
  4. 12 Reasons Your Digital Transformation Will Fail - Mar 2022 www.forbes.com
  5. The IT Roadmap for Digital Business Transformation - 2021 gartner.com
  6. Why We Need To Think Differently About Digital Transformation - Aug 2022 forbes.com
  7. Digital Transformation in Manufacturing and Industrials ge.com
  8. How is Walmart amplifying shop tech for its customers? - https://one.walmart.com/
  9. Doing The Hard Things First - Lessons From Our Cloud Journey - capitalone.com
  10. BMW Digital Transformation Link

About the Author


Somnath Ghosh is an Enterprise Transformation Consultant with over 25+ years of strategic consulting experience in software development, Agile/DevOps enablement, and change management. As a thought leader, he guides organizations to achieve dramatic improvement and efficiency—from their product ideation to delivery. He has been a frequent speaker and contributor to PMI local and global conferences and offers workshops on advanced topics that help organizations manage large programs in digital transformation and innovation.

Find Som on LinkedIn at SomGhosh or http://www.linkedin.com/in/somghosh



View the archives

Join the PMI organisation and select PMI Mile Hi as your chapter.

Add to the waitlist