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?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.