The Key Ingredients for a Successful Digital Transformation
By: The QuickReach Digital Transformation Team
As digital technologies dramatically reshape industry after industry, many companies are pursuing large-scale changes to capture the benefits of these trends or to simply keep up with competitors. However, in a number of cases, success in these transformations is proving to be elusive. The pressure is increasing- more and more competitors and startups are catering to the evolving consumer behavior thus the imminent need to digitally transform. As companies and boardroom executives figure out various digital transformation nuances by pouring a significant amount of resources and quarterly budgets into the transformation initiatives, hiring tech talent and nurturing a digital culture, QuickReach suggests that the desired results are still far from ideal.
The article outlines the key ingredients that business leaders need to keep in mind as they embark on their arduous digital transformation journey.
1. Gain quick wins through smaller projects
When it comes to digitalization, small-scale pilot tests and quick wins are crucial to kick-start transformation. These build up institutional expertise, serve as proofs of concept, and build momentum for broader efforts. Given the dynamic nature of businesses and the fact that digital transformations take years to implement, some traditional practices can no longer keep up. Most often than not, a company’s approach is to let a thousand flowers bloom, but, this spreads scarce resources thinly. Moreover, transformation incurs costs when competition is probably putting pressure on margins. Hence the imperative to thoughtfully pursue a manageable number of digital initiatives to manage the performance of the core business while cultivating future sources of growth. Initiatives that are strategically important, pay back quickly, and reduce complexity are the ones to prioritize. And when initiatives are successful and deliver the intended financial benefits, the board and top team should be encouraged to push to achieve more. It is also important to note that equally important to concentrating effort and attention on what works well is letting go of what does not.
A number of technology companies are now providing industry-specific solutions which aim to help companies with these low-hanging fruits. QuickReach, for example, has an industry solution suite that provides enterprises with a ready set of digital solutions that can be deployed in a matter of weeks and on a limited budget which executives could use to kickstart their digital transformation journey.
2. Create a thorough strategy and technology roadmap
In order to transcend from digitizing to actually being industry innovators, business leaders have to create a thorough customer-centric strategy. Departments then should collaborate, including the IT department, to create an integrated strategy where processes are improved and augmented by technology to become more customer-centric. From front-facing offices, such as sales and marketing, to back offices, such as operations, and even until business support units, such as HR and Finance - all these departments have to work together to rewire tech-bolstered processes and policies to ultimately deliver better customer experience. With the strategy, technology roadmap and the resources needed, the team leading digital transformations should be able to aptly orchestrate the transition to satisfy all key stakeholders.
3. Invest in tools and methods that foster agility
Long delivery cycles are already a no-no, especially now that more and more leading companies are using agile methodologies to implement change. Going agile requires creating small, nimble, cross-functional teams that will be given a high degree of autonomy. These teams, which can move faster than traditional organization structures, produce better output, shorter time to market, and higher satisfaction among employees and customers alike. Experiments can be run and compared, returns are more easily measured, and invaluable learning can be gleaned from failure and this could be a critical first step in a company’s digital transformation journey. Even larger established companies such as Barclays, GE, and CH Robinson would not have been able to scale and offer new products and services without agile methods and practices. They were able to do this by allowing for multiple, cross-functional teams sized from 3 to 9 people to run experiments, iterate, and collaborate often with customers in order to deliver.
Businesses that are looking to be more agile have a lot of options but should invest in tools that highlight collaboration in each module, and enable quick decision making through process visibility. Investing in tools and methods that foster agility is critical to the success of any digital transformation initiative.
4. Have strong technology and core people
Bringing together the right team to spearhead digital transformation is a critical component of transformation success and is often a challenge for the executive management. The ideal team leading digital transformation includes people from inside and outside the organization who understand the current core business, as well as the actions needed in order to respond to—or lead—disruptive change. It is important to strike the right balance between external hires, who can bring fresh ideas and new capabilities, particularly digital, and internal talent who know the business and organization.