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Open Communication: The Secret Weapon for Enterprise Digital Transformation

Disruptive By Design

Remember dial-up internet and waiting ages for a grainy cat video to load? Yikes! The digital landscape evolves at warp speed, and businesses that cling to outdated methods risk becoming the Blockbuster to Netflix’s streaming dominance. Fear not, digital transformation (DT) isn’t some dystopian robot takeover from your favorite sci-fi flick. It’s not just about embracing cutting-edge tools and strategies like self-piloting drones to instantly gain a competitive advantage or data-driven insights that grant you near-future predicting abilities but creating and communicating your DT strategy to create buy-in throughout the organization. No, you won’t be controlling minds by doing so, but by communicating your strategy, you will create a culture of trust and transparency across the organization, enhancing your ability to expedite innovation and change.

In my experience, organizations viewed digital transformation solely through the lens of information technology (IT), relegating it to the realm of servers, software and technical expertise. This narrow outlook hinders genuine enterprise change, leading to fragmented solutions that address departmental inefficiencies but fail to drive overall innovation. It’s crucial to create a holistic DT communications strategy that creates buy-in throughout your organization’s sphere of influence. The first step is to create an enterprise strategy to outline what the organization wants to accomplish through a vision and mission statement.

Two and a half years ago, I created a vision and mission statement for our organization. Our vision “to be the catalyst for technology innovation with our shipyard and our partners within Japan” was meant to be aspirational and provide an identity and future direction for the organization. Our mission statement, “to be an industry-rivaling organization that continuously delivers scalable and secure IT products that streamline processes and protect our shipyard assets against foreign adversaries,” outlined what we planned to accomplish and how we were going to achieve our vision. These statements became our North Star, guiding every decision, project and late-night troubleshooting or coding session. To reinforce our message to the organization, we created our transformation product road map.













Our five-year road map communicates our vision and actionable steps clearly. It serves as a communication hub, enabling everyone, from developers to executives, to understand what’s next and how it impacts our end users. Our road map provides transparency and fosters collaboration, ensuring that the entire organization aligned its efforts toward the shared goal.

With this road map, we were able to communicate and manage change across the enterprise, helping end users understand the actions and processes they needed to adapt to derive maximum value from the new tool. As a result, we saw wider adoption of the latest capabilities across the enterprise while strategically gathering feedback to refine our ever-evolving road map. While external communications create buy-in from the organization, establishing constant internal communications within the department was the final piece to the success of our journey thus far.

At first, our IT department’s multiyear digital transformation journey felt like trekking through an uncharted forest. To overcome this challenge, we decided to create yearly themes that acted as a compass or trail markers to provide direction and empower the team to execute the mission. The first-year theme was “Net Zero,” building trust through communication. The second year was “Grow and Lead,” empowering team members to lead transformational projects, resulting in early project completion, automation of processes and creating an inclusive culture. This year’s theme is “Be Bold,” which means embracing change, taking calculated risks and adopting new ideas.

Successful enterprise digital transformation hinges on early and frequent internal and external communication. By openly sharing plans, concerns and progress from the outset, you foster collaboration, build trust and navigate challenges. This transparency lays the groundwork for a unified front, ensuring everyone pulls in the same direction toward a digitally empowered future. Let open communication be the cornerstone of your transformation journey, and watch your enterprise rise to the exciting challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Peter Guo serves as the chief information officer for U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility, Japan. He is responsible for the modernization of the Navy’s largest overseas network spanning across Japan and Singapore. He also serves as the vice president - International (INDOPAC) for AFCEA’s ELAC.

The Emerging Leaders Disruptive By Design column is meant to feature voices and the unique perspective of the next generations coming up in the military, government, industry and intelligence communities. Opinions, conclusions and recommendations expressed or implied within this Disruptive By Design column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Defense Department. In addition, the opinions expressed in this article are not to be construed as reflecting the views of AFCEA International.

For more information, visit EmergingLeaders@afcea.org