“When leaders view technology as merely a source of answers and solutions, they miss opportunities to innovate in bigger, bolder ways.”

That’s the key takeaway from a recent MIT Sloan Management Review article on what leading companies do differently when a so-called digital transformation is complete.

To be more explicit, industry innovators don’t just look for answers. After a new technology is launched or an internal IT implementation is finished, they go back to the initial problem, and, as former eBay CEO John Donahoe puts it, “start asking better questions.”

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff takes a similar approach, recently opening what the company calls an Ohana Floor at the top of the new Salesforce Tower in San Francisco. The space is open to clients to come in and “ask big questions”ones whose answers can change the trajectory of their companies or shake up the competitive landscape.

So, what exactly are these companies doing differently?

For many, once the initial problem is solved, they go back to where they started to get new ideas.

According to the MIT Sloan article, it’s after systems are put in place that things really start to get interesting: “New information starts flowing, and more intriguing questions materialize.” This new way of innovating has the potential for companies to quickly move from merely solving problems to opening up new opportunitiesin a big way!

Why?

For starters, true innovators think of digital transformation as a journey, rather than a destination. In fact, for some it’s not even a transformation at all, it’s already part of the company’s DNA. Whether you’re on a digital transformation journey or looking out for the next big innovation, below are three focus areas that can keep you on the right path:

  1. Execution — Digital transformation or disruption not only requires a strategy, but your team needs to be empowered to execute. This means providing the right tools for data discovery to save people time and keep your projects are moving forward.
  2. Innovation — The goal of digital transformation is usually the same: Innovation. By staying focused on new ideas and new ways of getting things done under this umbrella goal, you can help ensure you are bringing about real change at your company vs. one-off quick fixes for the short-term.
  3. Operations — As companies become more digitally mature, innovation happens faster and more often. In fact, leading companies are building innovation into their operations, providing tools for a broader range of employees to dig into data, raising the bar when it comes to making data-driven decisions.

For more information on how to help keep your digital transformation initiatives moving forward, check out this McKinsey video on Why Digital Strategies Fail below: