Transformation is very hard at the best of times for all of us to undertake. Digital transformation forces us to work with mostly emerging, constantly evolving technologies, and then apply these in an integrated way into an existing business. This stretches our abilities significantly, as we may remain unclear of the finished design for quite some time.
We have to evolve it, as we go. With anything that is evolving in front of our eyes, we will need to recognize some of the decisions we will make will turn out to be wrong but made as a good judgment at the time, on ’emerging’ evidence, not proven. Achieving a digital transformation is becoming really essential for innovation, helping to enable your ability to deliver sustained growth through making all the ‘connections’ come together in different ways than ever before; in evaluations, analysis, in collaborations and in the process from discovery to eventual commercialization.
Digital transformation executed well is a really big undertaking. It goes way beyond making a series of incremental improvements to become cloud-ready as are supposed to build in and reflect social, mobile and digital technologies in the solution set. We need to fundamentally transform our processes by opening up and engaging with customers in dramatically different ways, in real-time, in constant exchanges and connected ways. Everything needs to be tracked and traced.
Customers will want to participate, influence and aid your design and final product. On top, we have to deal with a broad range of communities, across platforms and in different ecosystems at speed, scale, and scope to master different levels of complexity and draw in the expertise we lack within our organization. However, we must do all this in this world of the uncertainty of if it does all connect and work, to reposition all our businesses towards the digital world.
Digital transformation is, without doubt, an event of historic impact, challenging what we know
Technology is becoming an integral part of our lives, for us personally, as consumers or employees, but equally for businesses, the government and our educational institutions. It is pervading everything.
Look at digital transformation as an investment, our future ability to function, compete and communicate will depend on it. Investments always take time to show results, and digital will demand a lot. It is shaping the ways we will work in the future, on how we are going to connect, communicate, and learn. Often, we have been caught up in a specific device we use. This time, it is different though. It is how that set of devices allows us to become connected, how they interact and form a system to tackle a need or task. We are all struggling to re-equip ourselves, in skills, in simply managing, in managing the digital world and its demands. This is another work-in-progress
Digital transformation will keep pushing us to become more efficient and effective yet also to become more adroit and innovative. It erodes and eats into our time that in the past was taken up by so many other things. We will need a new reset in our values and beliefs, we will have to carve out a different set of routines and habits, otherwise digital will simply take over our lives to the detriment of everything else.
The good thing is that Business entities are being forced to open up
Digital transformation happens on a scale and scope that makes many reluctant to take it on; it seems overwhelming in its complexity and risk. The business returns seem hard to quantify in traditional metrics yet the need for transformation compels us to ignore the known metrics and believe in all the unknowns that we are told are achievable.
Often it is hard to convince deciders to support this need for such a significant transformation, whether they are just skeptical or lacking technology adroitness. They want to slowly attack it, sometimes in the hope, it might “sort of” go away. Yet for others, who recognize the future lies in technology and the power of networks and community engagement, it is the opportunity to radically alter their way of doing business; the opportunity to forge new competitive positions that have an engagement at their heart.
We don’t know what the “end game” will look like
We don’t know how the digital transformation will turn out in the end and we have to accept that. Much will come towards us as we adapt, learn and experiment, with many emerging technologies, all in different stages of their evolution.
You sometimes get a sense of crisis pervading the boardrooms, a sense of growing concern, when they recognize the threats and the magnitude of change this transformation will demand of them. They are often the least equipped to understand it. They have to become highly reliant on others to teach them, inform them and encourage them to keep ‘at it’
They will be required to find multiple resources for this journey, and be it just to stay competitive in this new digital world where the demarcation is blurring and industries are agonizing in continuous disruption. It is the blending of all the different experiences, understanding, and comprehension that is rapidly flattening the hierarchy to accommodate all these different voices contributing to building a new digital business landscape.The “survival of the fittest” will be determined by how successfully and how fast deciders
The “survival of the fittest” will be determined by how successfully and how fast deciders maneuver through this shift. Transforming established businesses has become an imperative today.
We are told there are three strategic goals to justify the transformational journey:
- Providing a better, systematic customer experience, leading to greater loyalty and fostering a community of advocates
- Internally, digital transformation can improve the operational efficiency
- New business models, which were not feasible before the time of the connected world, offer new markets and growth opportunities
The worry becomes with customer engagement there is this risk that senior executives will let transformation fail
Of those strategic goals, achieving customer engagement, in the sense of a sustainable partnership, is the most valuable one. Digital transformation enables you to engage your customers along their journey across various products, services and communication channels. Digital has become truly pervasive in people’s lives now and this forces businesses to think about how they can become a consumer technology company, irrespective of what they offer.
The challenges are massive. Companies are struggling to see clear business benefits in traditional ways of managing return on investment. Senior executives have been trained in a curriculum that didn’t prepare them for this world of digital technology and a collaborative world where they have to listen, learn and accept others are often more often right.
The senior executive lacks the understanding of new tools of engagement, which are table stakes already in the world beyond their own corporate offices, in startups, social media companies etc. They consider technology as something for others to worry over. Increasingly, they also lack the relevant exposure and experience to handle the new game successfully.
Driving an effective digital transformation through technologies, which are constantly adapting and evolving, is not the prediction-model based experience they are used to and that got them to the top. A new mindset is required, with solid risk judgment based as much on experience as in listening to others, replacing hard facts often with soft instincts, and incomplete data that is in a constant validation of structured experimentation.
What’s the goal to keep in mind? Looking at the needs of return
- Simply put, you need a picture of how you will (eventually) make money when you start your journey of digital transformation. Create a clearly outlined set of value propositions, and define how you will engage and interact with your customers, partners, and suppliers in products, services, and business models.
- Your business will revolve around what customers really want, a seamless experience where speed, time, performance and response become dominating values – far beyond a specific job-to-be-done. The return in innovation, in new products and services that will rise in ongoing customer satisfaction, becomes as relevant as pricing a product. The customer is willing to pay for a product he or she believes good value, great service and solves their needs
- The toughest part of any transformation is actually recognizing you have to challenge your own past assumptions and be prepared to strip them down and rebuild them on a constant always experimenting basis, adapting to what you ‘hear’ and can ‘see’ in breaking opportunity from all the increased data coming into you to analysis.
- In general, business is moving towards a culture of experience. Whether in communications, development, or delivery, with the customer, in the product itself:
- Everyone’s time within the organization is pivoted towards the outside world, learning to collaborate, exchange and forge different alliances.
- There is a great advantage in seeking increasing speed and scale. It delivers ‘time to impact’ to as wide an audience as you can achieve. Having a global ambition or partnerships that can enable speed to market makes increasing sense but there is a higher likelihood you will have to narrow your offering focus to reduce internal complexity but still deliver within a network of providers, products, and services that deliver to customer needs.
- And the most important change in perspective is about being different, about carving out our own uniqueness but recognizing this is forming more around platforms and ecosystems where all participants look to collaborate and build a more superior offering than one they could achieve on their own
So the actual starting point will be to come up with a detailed plan of coordinated actions that challenge the way you have been running today’s business and totally rethinking it from top to bottom to make any transformation, digitally dependent.
Innovation is becoming highly dependent on digital technology, it feeds understanding, validates it and delivers much of the final value proposition. Undertaking a digital transformation becomes essential to the health of innovation, let alone the company for the future.