While recognizing your shortcomings is surely a start, what can your organization do to fix the challenges brought about by working on your digital transformation ambition? What is the best way to lead digital business transformation and deliver financial results? Read as I spill the secret for a successful digital transformation.

Digital Transformation reform the way an enterprise functions. An Everest Group research found that 73% of companies failed to see any addition to their business value from their digital transformation efforts. In the previous blog, I discussed why digital transformation projects are met with obstacles. In this blog, I will reveal 12 secrets to a perfectly executed digital transformation journey. 

  1. Define your Ambition 

I feel success starts when your organization can answer questions like – What is the desired outcome of your transformation? Are you looking for more sales, revenue, cost-saving, or selling to new/existing customers? Where is your transformation headed in the future? 

When dealing with these questions, you need to –

  • Articulate your digital business strategy by ensuring broad organizational alignment.
  • Rethink your business for the digital age.
  • Define governance and prioritization for how the enterprise will balance transformation objectives.
  • Create a compelling communication strategy to sell the transformation story to the organization.
  • Clearly define the speed of adoption and the levels of risks — financial, regulatory, reputational you are willing to take in this journey.
  1. Establish the office of Chief Digital and Innovation Office

The CDIO or the Chief Digital and Innovation Officer is the central leader and integrator in the digital transformation process. CDIO works as the cardinal point for decision-making for hard and complicated situations that involve aligning cross-department efforts, resolving conflicts, and orchestrating the rollout of digital initiatives and capabilities. 

So, why do I think CDIO should hold the reins on this project?

  • CDIO helps in fully integrating technology with the business and solving the performance gaps within and between various business units of the enterprise.
  • They help create a common language and decision-making framework.
  • They help establish an Innovation office to identify POC and Pilot. These include innovation on the following scale – 
    • Enterprise innovation by means of intelligent simulation 
    • Functional innovation by means of automated routine work
    • Edge innovation by means of AI-augmented workflows 
  • Identify separate workstream and leads for: 
    • Digitization / Digital Optimization
    • Employee Productivity 
    • Customer Experience 
    • Operations Excellence 
  1. Treat digital strategies as an integral part of your business strategies

Digital transformation is more about strategy and mindset than about technology. It helps organizations evolve their operations and contribute towards the evolution of the business itself. Digital transformation is a long-drawn journey – the goals and target metrics will keep shifting and moving constantly. To ensure the inclusion, I suggest the following measures – 

  • Establish your current baseline for Digital Maturity and develop a strategic roadmap.  
  • Establish a simple but consolidated view of Digital Initiatives.
  • Quantify your digital progress and use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as metrics. Additionally, it would be helpful to create real-time dashboards for oversight.
  • Define how your governance will evolve to reflect the unique needs of your specific initiatives.
  1. Focus on the Customer journey 

When developing an organization’s vision, I suggest one to be customer-first with a focus on how the customer journey would look like. This would give way to leveraging technology to create more relevant ways to engage with customers, and deliver exceptional customer experience at all touchpoints along the journey. To create an effective customer relationship, I suggest – 

  • Creating a deeper emotional connection with your customer.
  • Evaluating the impact of your digital business transformation strategy on your customers and your industry.
  • Rethinking the meaning of customer loyalty, and learning to engage with customers as a digital-first business.
  • Establishing Customer engagement hubs as a part of Digitally enhanced experiences for your customers.
  • Designing your frameworks while ensuring that emerging customer needs are at the center of your efforts.
  • Monitoring the environment to assess how and when changes occur that impact your digital ambitions.
  1. Shift to Product Mindset and Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) model

What enables a Digital transformation? My first and foremost guess would be a mindset shift. As enterprises look for effective, manageable entry points into digital transformation, they need to unleash their Inner Futurist, think big, and Shift to Product Mindset and Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) model. How would you do that? Let me guide you through it. 

  • Business leaders should consider “dream customer journey scenarios” when setting up their long-term strategies.
  • Evaluate disruptive market and technology innovations in your industry to ensure your knowledge remains current.
  • Establish a culture of experimentation and shift to Product Mindset, Product consumption with Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) model.
  1. Employ a proper framework to help your workforce through the change
  • Educate the workforce about the benefits of Digital Transformation. Change is usually met with resistance and it is important to warm your workforce to the upgrades that digital transformation will bring about. 
  • Create a psychologically safe environment for the workforce and be transparent about the associated changes. It is crucial that you coordinate work according to the hierarchical structure of the organization and DO NOT surprise workforce and executive committee members with unplanned changes.
  • Drive the Change Mindset – Beat homeostasis and prepare your workforce to deal with change effectively. This can be enabled by properly educating your workforce about the expectations of the transition and how it will help their respective departments.
  • Find the right ‘champion for change’.
  1. Be Agile. Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Deliver Fast! 
  • Establish the building block of DevOps/DevSecOps and consider Low Code/No-Code platforms as a viable alternative. 
  • Stack your short-term goals along with your big projects and be agile with their deployment. Focus on the pilots, learn from the results, and apply changes accordingly. When you focus on the tiniest details of your pilot, you observe the red flags at the elementary level and learn from your mistakes.  
  • Scope continuous improvements to keep your processes up-to-date. This will include the following measures:
    • Digital optimization: Lean and Agile workflows 
    • Workforce analytics 
    • Business Process analytics 
  • Utilize Application leaders that are responsible for developing strategies for digital business to accomplish the following tasks:  
    • Hack the culture with small-but-powerful steps, such as re-defining teams, roles, and personas to drive greater collaboration and innovation.
    • Embed a product-first thought into the developmental processes to encourage improvement and delivery along with customer value.
    • Invest in new multi-experience and low-code/no-code technologies that maximize Mesh App and Service Architecture (MASA).
  1. Security as Enabler for Digital Transformation 

Gartner predicts that 60% of digital businesses would suffer major service failures by 2020 due to the inability of security teams to manage digital risk. The world has shifted to a virtual presence and companies are faced with compliance and regulatory challenges.

Customers are much more tech-savvy today and prefer interacting with enterprises that are ethical, compliant, and prioritize security. For enterprises to be successful in the journey, security CANNOT be an afterthought. Security has to be an elementary element of the design process. If you take my word, this will help you reduce unnecessary costs and minimize the need to re-engineer solutions late in the game.

  1. Data as an Asset 

Data, is the new currency of digital businesses.” The leadership, in an organization, needs to invest resources in generating data that can be shared across departments and managed to create value in the digital era. If you are wondering how mining and managing data will aid your operations, let me help you – 

  • It helps with identifying hidden patterns and establishing a framework to capture the trend into many functions and contexts in the organization.
  • Customer-focused functions can use the information from data to enhance customer lead conversion, gain new customers, and retain existing clients. 
  • Digital-native companies can invest resources to generate data that offers greater insight into product creation and future value-creation opportunities.
  • Establish a right mix of Data Analytics solution (to answer What happened? and What’s happening?) and AI powered Predictive Analytics (to predict What will happen? What If?).
  1. Own your Digital Transformation

It can be quite tempting to fall into the vendor trap. It can be tempting, especially with different moving parts, tools & techniques, technology platforms, and different stakeholders reeling you in different directions. My two cents – Own your destiny. This is how you can do that – 

  • Managing vendor innovation.
  • Moving beyond Typical outsourcing to Co-Innovate, Co-invest models with System Integration partners or vendors.
  • Developing your capabilities in CDO, business units, and IT organization.
  • Measuring all feedback – good and bad
  1. Establish Technology roadmap and strategic technology partnerships
  • Beware of falling into the trap of enticing technology (even the buzzwords!).
  • Align your Digital Transformation with a Technology roadmap and identify the gaps.
  • Deliver innovation in terms of IT tools and design solution experimentation.
  • Support technology alignment for digital business transformation.
  • Develop strategic Technology partnerships instead of considering technology providers as vendors.
  • Develop a strategic partnership with a System Integration partner with the right outcome-based delivery model.
  • Define your Multi-Cloud/Distributed Cloud strategy.
  • Evaluate the use of Open platforms.
  • Leverage Low Code/No Code Platforms.
  • Reduce your Technical Debt by adopting Digital Decoupling and 7R application disposition model and not just remortgaging with Robotics Process Automation (RPA).
  • Adopt Human Centric Design.
  • Don’t forget to Have Fun and celebrate success along the way. 😊
  1. Develop the Partnership Ecosystem for Network effect  
  • Seek out strategic partnerships that align with your transformation vision, and increase the speed and quality of your initiatives 
  • Digital disruption is blurring the lines between traditional industries. Most of the Markets are being dramatically reshaped as agile new entrants (e.g. Fintech, Startup, niche Cloud borne companies) are putting increasingly empowered customers in control and realizing the benefits of these new business models. Leverage the network effect of strategic partnerships, to build a powerful ecosystem to advance digital transformation, encourage collaboration, and deliver meaningful outcomes to customers

Summary

While the failure of certain pilots in the digital transformation journey doesn’t spell the end of the process, it costs the enterprise a lot more – money, wasted resources, wasted efforts of the workforce, delay in turnaround time. The remedy here is to closely observe the results that the digital transformation processes yielded and analyze them. 

While we hang onto our hats for the most-awaited vaccine, this list will hand you the antidote to hindrances on your digital transformation journey.  The key to solving these issues lies in the tiny details of the project. Analyze the mistakes while keeping agility in mind – Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Deliver Fast.