Everybody talks about 'Digital Transformation'. But the question is - why do we need to transform? And what makes a shift to digital transformation successful, or in some cases, unsuccessful? 


Why do we need to transform?

We've now arrived in the fourth industrial revolution, where the digital and physical world blend together due to various technologies and the connection of devices, creating a whole new experience. It changes the way we work and act in our private and business lives. But there has been change before. What makes today different? There are many key factors and influences to the impact of technology today, but here I'll focus on highlighting: 


  1. Change today happens faster than ever. To accommodate the impact due to technological advancements, developing new market players or new business models is not enough to survive. We need to be prepared for the unknown change of tomorrow. 
  2. Our tools and devices for everyday use are now connected across multiple channels. Cars and machines talk to us, and even our toothbrushes have AI! This increases the expectation of the customer dramatically. Every company - whether B2C or B2C or B2B2C - has to be able to anticipate the needs and desires of its customers on every channel in a personalised way in real-time - before customers even know it themselves. 
  3. Disruption happens from all directions. Competitors - even from different industries, unicorns funded and equipped with huge amounts of money from VCs, small and agile startups, automation through AI and IOT in all areas - the list goes on. If we don’t constantly innovate, we won’t survive. 


The need to be ready for accelerated change is not in question. Digital Transformation is not a one way journey, it is a path of continuous iterations of fail & learn, a waterwheel that needs to be fed constantly to deliver leading and competitive innovations. 


But how can Transformation and Innovation happen successfully?

The bad news is - humans don’t like change. And we can’t update the engine of an airplane during the flight. We need to provide consistency for the sake of human nature, and to steadily deliver on profitable core businesses that fuel costly innovation until it shows ROI. Innovation takes patience and time, and it does not happen overnight. 

We've heard “culture eats strategy for breakfast” - quoting Peter Drucker. How can we create a culture that supports the agility needed to explore, experiment, build, learn and iterate, in order to always be ready for innovation? 



It all starts with the vision & values of an organisation - a customer centred vision with the buy-in of the executive leadership as the foundation and guiding framework. If everybody in the organisation understands the why of the “Golden Circle”  - the higher cause behind “WHY” we do what we do - we have the foundation to build flexible and autonomous structures. 


Autonomous cross-functional teams

This enables operations to move away from hierarchies, towards platform and problem-focused cross-functional teams - also sometimes called self-organised “squads”. 

An underlying “lean” governance consisting of only the most necessary rules and approval cycles make autonomous teams practical and successful. This governance including enforced standards for speed, sets the basic rules for everybody to take ownership and make decisions, always keeping the vision in mind. 


Big - Small - Fast: Quick wins with business alignment


As mentioned - we don’t want to change the engine of a flying plane. 

While thinking BIG, we need to start SMALL and act FAST. This has to happen incrementally: Identify key initiatives with a high impact and low effort, create an MVP (minimum viable product) that meets the organisation's security and quality requirements, and deliver a quick win that can be communicated across the organisation. Then start to spread the model to other key initiatives. 


Easier said than done! 

From the beginning - even if the first initiative is small - business stakeholders need to be involved. They need to support the transformation and innovation initiatives, understanding that short-term ROI should not be expected. Establish joined business goals according to the overall vision, and define measures that cater to these goals. Involving legal and security at an early stage also ensures not only mutual understanding, but helps to avoid unnecessary unpleasant surprises later. 


Dynamically changing teams

Establishing cross-functional teams involving business and IT, and applying agility and human-centred design practices is the boilerplate for building a whole ecosystem with multiple autonomous squad teams, focused on customer and user centred innovations. 

Our Transformation Services teams know that different industries and different companies have different challenges but there is something we apply to all of our transformation projects: we start with the customer and user experience first - and work our way backwards, translating it into the enabling technology. And this is a key word for us: we partner with our customers and their partners to enable them to be prepared for the accelerated change. 


For more advice on how to accelerate your digital transformation, download our Customer Experience Transformation e-book.