Top 5 Tips for Digital Transformation
Digital Transformation is a real buzz phrase at the moment, you can't talk about projects without it coming up in conversation, but what is it and what should you do/ not do?
Don't fool yourself: Digital Transformation is not really about adopting a new technology that is in the Cloud or adopting a new technology, that is modernising. Look at the word "Transform", check the dictionary definition, it says "a marked change in form" or "a complete change in the character of something". If you are looking at running a transformation programme in your business, I would suggest that before you get too hooked on the phrase, question yourself or the team running the programme, what is actually going to be transformed? If, for example, you are deploying a new tech like Teams, or Azure, ask yourself what the impact to your business is going to be. If you are moving from an on-premises estate to a cloud, what improvement or radical change does that bring to your users? If you are adopting Teams from SfB, what are you doing to improve the efficiency of your business or users? And be brutally honest, changing one chat platform for another is not the answer; a new way of sharing, is helpful, but also not the answer. Digital Transformation changes the way businesses operate, it is not simply changing the tech being used and adding a few extra features.
Be prepared to look under the water. One very useful exercise is to understand the 'Iceberg of Ignorance'. It is a very simple principle, 90% of an iceberg sits under water, you only see the top 10%, and this is typically the same in the technology arena. The closer to the top of the iceberg (organisation) your role is, the more distant you are from the real issues that your business face. If you want to drive true efficiency or productivity then, you need to know what is going on at the senior levels, but also and arguably more importantly, at the base levels of your business. What are the pain points your employees experience when dealing with clients, vendors, when interacting internally. This is where you need to start. Most senior leadership teams will focus on something shiny and new that looks good at the surface. That top 10%, take the time to understand and discuss the issues being faced by the people who interact with you client/ vendor touchpoints and with core operational functions. Massive gains in efficiencies can often be made by simple changes.
Once you understand what you need to fix and improve, you can then set about choosing the technology you need. One analogy I regularly use is that you wouldn't typically go the shops to buy a spade, and then get it home, walk to your garden and think 'now what can I dig up?'. No, you would look at your garden and think, 'hmm, I need to dig up that bed and cut down that tree, for that I need a spade and a chainsaw'. That is a far more logical way of approaching things. You don't want to be stuck trying to cut down a tree with a spade now do you? You need to start with the business problem. What are you trying to fix/ change?
Be bold. Transformation is not about minor changes, if you are working out what can be changed and improved, you really need to think in broad terms. Those challenges that you uncovered in tip 2, don't think just about getting a new tool, really understand what the tooling can do for you. Do I just want a new collaboration platform, or do I want that and to automate my reporting, create new workflows, automate messages to my departments or clients? What can I do with all my data? If I bring multiple data sources together, what would that show me or tell me? Can I instigate something off the back of that information? Can I make my client or user experience better or easier? Do I see positive or negative trends I can act upon? The possibilities are endless, and it is unlikely that you will get the answers you need from one person or company. These are wide ranging toolsets and complexities vary. Don't be concerned about holding think tanks or soliciting ideas from elsewhere, this needs to be part of the process. Build the team you need to get what you need.
Set that Strategy properly. Talk it through with your senior leadership teams, document it well but be prepared to go through it in simplistic terms. If you can't show the real world benefits that will come as a result, you may as well give up. Most transformational projects fail because of a lack of Exec Sponsorship backing; it is Change Management 101... the 'what's in it for me?' part. Change needs to be executed properly from top to bottom, and that includes starting at the very top. If you have a team who believe in your vision, you will find it far more straightforward to get a transformation pushed through. Transformation is about building what the business needs, not what they think they want.
Digital Transformation is not about tinkering, it is about radically rethinking the way you, your staff and your business operates. Don't get wrapped up in a simple technology upgrade or enhancement and then call it a Transformation. You'll end up delivering something nice, but not something that is going to shape your business for the next 5 years or more.