It’s easy to get carried away by enthusiasm for new technologies, but any organisation preparing for Digital Transformation (DT) should ensure that such plans are rooted in common sense, here are five key factors you need to consider;
- Technology solutions are a means and not an end, their acquisition and deployment need to be informed by, and supportive of, your business purpose, strategy and plan.
- Typically, the reasons for embarking on DT can be broken down into three distinct areas:
Enhancing customer access and retentiom
Better Market/Business intelligence
For each category, you need to be clear on your processes, your people and how the new technology aligns with them
- DT is an ongoing journey, it does not have a fixed destination and should not be embarked on unless you understand all that this implies
- Like all key organisational competencies, DT needs ownership and focus
- The shortening technology cycle times and the variety of application choices means yourdecision-making processes need to be slicker
Let’s look at each factor in more detail:
1. How will the Technology Solutions planned for DT support your purpose?
- You should be able to make a conscious linkages between both, ideally to the point where you can calculate a positive cost/benefit.
- As part of successful change management for your DT, you need to communicate and explain your plans for the new technologies to all stakeholders.
- Do you know how good you are at selecting, buying and implementing new technology? This will become an increasingly important capability for you.
- Have you seen these new technologies in use elsewhere? – ask the vendor for a visit to their customer reference site. If they don’t have one, be more circumspect.
- Given that you will be running a mix of innovative technologies with a high churn rate, you need to ensure your management model for technology architecture is clear and understood.
2. How will the Technology Solutions planned for your DT contribute to the target benefits?
In many ways this is the detail that underpins point 1:
- You should be clear about the results you want from your new technologies. Are your targets clear and is your current baseline quantified?
- Without going into excessive analysis, do you and all the stakeholders understand what you are trying to achieve – i.e. are they on board and prepared for the journey
- For efficiency improvements, you need a good understanding of your existing processes, warts and all and beware of the law of unexpected consequences. (Murphy’s Law)
- If your new technologies or processes have any customer impact, its essential that you test and understand it from their perspective. It’s a pain to do but much less pain than losing customers – if you do it right its an opportunity to improve customer relationships
- If you seek better market intelligence, what will you do with it when you have it?
3. Digital Transformation, preparing for an endless journey!
- The world of technology was never static, we just wanted it to be, now we all need to be ready for continual change
- Given this, is even more important that your purpose and strategic direction are clear to everyone as a basis for ongoing technology refreshment
- Change-able. You and your organisation need to be ready for and welcoming of continuous change – lots of folks find this hard and will need help.
- Given the high rate of technology churn, your IT platforms and in particular, clear and robust interface models and data standards are essential
4. Digital Transformation stewardship
- The term stewardship is a deliberate choice as it implies a cooperative and consensus-based approach. A focal point and “go to” person is needed and their approach must be intensely inclusive and consultative.
- It’s a no brainer to recognise that the younger generations have a natural affinity with and intuitive understanding of emerging technologies - BUT, you would be well advised to pair or mentor them with a more mature mind, ideally a long service staff member with a deep understanding of internal processes and the company’s overall gaols clear in their mind.
- An important role of stewardship is horizon scanning and scenario analysis – both from a technology and economic perspective – it’s a difficult but important activity and some space to do this needs to be created at an executive level.
5. More choice and less time for decision making.
- This is not a new issue – DT just makes it more acute. You need to recognise that the range of Technology choices can be overwhelming and work through how to handle it.
- The Agile methodology for software development/deployment should be your mantra here.
- Given that you will often have to choose a linked suite of new technologies, the point about robust data standards and interface models is particularly important.
- Ask for your technology vendors help with decision making