In 2020 It’s highly likely that you have either come across a client, partner, supplier, or industry player who is doing a Digital Transformation.
It was a buzzword in 2019 as organizations realized the need to advance their business capabilities, and to facilitate that digital tools and processes enabled by technology would have to be the way forward.
For many institutions, however, the challenge of taking on a Digital Transformation is that it will be their first time doing it so naturally.
There is a myriad of considerations that may make a digital transformation appear undesirable, such as the risk of failure, lack of synergy across the organization of what good looks like, unfamiliar territory, and a skills gap among employees to make it happen, etc.
All these, coupled with the plethora of advice on best practices and ‘How-to’ is enough to deter even the most willing of organizations.
That said, Digital Transformations are not just a means to an end; they are a necessity. In this digital and ever-connected political and economic global landscape, an organization that neither takes control of its destiny proactively nor responds to external pressures to adapt will inevitably find itself behind its peers or worse yet extinct.
To make the journey towards Digital Transformations easier, here are some considerations to evaluate and prepare for what such a change will mean for your business and whether you are ready for it.
Understand the difference between a Digital transformation and an IT Transformation
There is a tendency to make a Digital Transformation synonymous with an IT transformation. It’s easy to see why giving that ‘digital’ and ‘digitizing’ cannot be made possible without technology.
However, to confuse the two as being the same is to enter the transformation programme with expectations and an approach that may not lead to the anticipated results.
A digital transformation requires a focus on people, processes, and technology, with an intent on optimizing the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness across the board by leveraging capabilities and tools (not just technology) to achieve this.
An IT Transformation is usually a change in technology – at the software, data, and/or infrastructure level. The two are not the same.
Understand your business landscape – charity begins at home.
To transform is to move from one state to another.
It’s difficult to know where you want to be if you don’t know where you are or where you are coming from.
Organizations embarking on a digital transformation must take the time to understand their landscape. Digital changes tend to reveal improvement opportunities that hadn’t been previously considered. So it’s highly likely that a business landscape review will not be exhaustive. This discovery doesn’t negate the need to do it still.
Conducting an as-is analysis organization-wide provides a benchmark of where you stand with a view of identifying where the transformation opportunities are and more crucially, which are a priority to delivering recognizable benefits.
Technology is an enabler, not a panacea
Technology can do a lot of things. It can support strategic imperatives, it can facilitate faster processing of data, and it can promote higher productivity, etc. It can’t, however, solve all problems.
When approaching digital transformations with a ‘technology first’ mindset results in other areas impacted by the technology responding to the constraints of the technology, rather than the technology enabling new ways of working.
The formula for success is to identify the transformation activity and ask if the technology is an enabler to making the activity output more excellent, not the other way round.
Adoption is critical to success
Few transformations are successful if adoption by the cohort most impacted; your colleagues and employees are not realized. The adoption of digital transformation outcomes requires early socialization and championing, even BEFORE the transformation starts.
Granted, there are limits to what you will want to be communicated to now risk sharing too much too soon. If, however, your people only hear about the transformation once it’s near completion, then it’s too late.
Continually improving is easier once the mechanisms are in place.
Digital Transformations are designed to expose continuous improvement opportunities.
It’s tough to run a 12-18 month programme focused on iteration, learning as you go, and being user-centered without these principles driving ongoing operational and behavior changes.
For this reason, continuously improving without the need for another major transformation in the short team, is made possible by having the right mechanisms in place before and during the conversion.
This list of considerations is undoubtedly not exhaustive. We could reference vendor selection processes, upskilling, and/or recruiting new talent to support the transformation, etc. However, experience says that common errors in approaching digital transformations have made these five a priority.
Digital transformations in themselves are not much different from other transformations, and their crucial difference, however, is how they are approached and the mindset change required to make them work.