There are several foundational steps that organizations should consider as they embark on a journey to achieve digital excellence and mature into modern Enterprises.
If you’re in business today, you know that technology is changing everything, from the way enterprises do business to the way information is consumed and disseminated. Cloud computing, mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT) are among the transformative technologies that have set the stage of innovation. There is hardly any organization that is not working to adapt in the hopes of thriving within this fluctuating, digital dynamic.
We all have the right aspirations—to best leverage systems, tools and processes to gain efficiency, to manage cost savings and establish a competitive advantage in the marketplace. But how do we do it? What gives us better chances of success?
As your organization embarks on its digital evolution, here are several tips to keep in mind that we have seen in the more successful organizations we have the privilege to work with:
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is in the very beginning—not setting clear objectives for your Digital Transformation projects. When you don’t spend enough time understanding your objectives and mapping them out to the “three pillars” (revenue, cost or risk/compliance) you quickly go to tactics which don’t really answer the key question—how do those DT efforts create tangible, measurable value for the organization?
Typically, the questions that are being brought up are along the lines of: Are you trying to update an existing application or build a new one? Does your organization need an app development platform or tool? How robust are your data needs, really? Are you deploying on-premises or in the cloud?
The better question is—how will this have the right impact on our business? Can we trace it back to the business outcomes, or is it just a lot of tasks that you will do without creating an outcome for your business?
Everything has to align—strategy, people, process, technology, implementation. Do you have the right people to execute on your Digital Strategy? What’s the technology gap between what you have and where you want to be? What will be the impact on process? Are all functions in your organization aligned? Supportive?
Organizations tend to approach the effort in a siloed way, but that never leads to great results. Transformation is a collaborative process and all functions need to come together. Otherwise it will not deliver a transformative result. It will be a set of tactical initiatives that create a marginal result. Not that tactical initiatives don’t matter, but you can do so much more if you challenge yourself outside of your comfort zone. The companies of tomorrow need to be collaborative and bring functions together.
How are you going to bring people over?
What is the impact on culture? Why are all those changes good for them? Explain why they should care and why they should support you, provide feedback, etc. Many times this step is skipped, and this leads to a lot of frustration for key stakeholders as they don’t see the value or it’s not aligned with their objectives.
New systems and technology do not lead to new results if there is no change in behavior. Be ready to change. You need to change the way you operate in order to be successful. Many organizations try to change in an ad-hoc way. And it doesn’t work. Because people continue to do things the same way. Only new behaviors will create new results. You also need a structured approach to build the bridge between today and tomorrow and take people over.
You need to embed a digital-first mentality in everyone in the organization! People need to believe. They need to feel it.
Building muscle always comes with pain. But if you don’t force yourself to build muscle, you will not be able to be a top athlete. Don’t settle for mediocrity and irrelevance just because it’s hard.
Force people to understand that change starts with them. Many times the biggest challenge is that everyone is “All-In” for change but believes that everyone else but them needs to change and the world has to adapt to them. It’s critical to fix such behavior and thinking early on in the project and to force all participants to be self-aware and willing to change.
Be patient and persistent. Be persistent about reaching your goal but be patient. You cannot transform overnight. There will be bumps. Even if you really want to run, you first have to learn to crawl and crawl before that. Focus your efforts not on how imperfect you are but did you give your best today to move the agenda for the company.
Most organizations do this in reverse but don’t fall into that trap.
Unfortunately, no technology offers a panacea. Just as a word processor does not make you a Nobel Prize novelist, no shiny new technology solution will miraculously transform you into a better organization. Take it slow—understand your challenges first, define the Goals and Objectives, the Principles that will guide you, and then select a path.
Remember, Digital Transformation is not about implementing new technology, it’s not about keeping busy. It’s about leveraging technology to drive new behaviors which will unleash new unseen powers in your organization. New ways to bring people together and leverage their collective talent (de-silo the organization) New ways to stay close to customers and partners (open up).
Enjoy the Digital Transformation Journey!
As Chief Innovation Officer at Progress, Vassil Terziev is responsible for identifying growth strategies and new market opportunities, as well as promoting internal innovation.