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Digital – It is more than just technology!

Digital continues to be a priority item on most CIOs to-do list. Two years back, in an article I had explored the building blocks for Digital. In the following, I would like to revisit those building blocks and discuss if they still remain to be the core and whether there has been an evolution of digital for organisations. Continuing that, I would like to share some thoughts of what could be a simple strategy to go ‘digital’.

Interestingly, digital has been hackneyed; and often organisations both customer org. and IT services tend to fool themselves and others by marketing legacy modernization or migrating to cloud based infrastructure as transforming digitally.

While most of the building blocks that I had discussed here continues to be relevant and crucial, the advent of ‘intelligent’ technologies that bring in data leverage to organisations has become one of the key focus for organisations that have already put in the foundations of digital. Matter of fact, it is estimated that by 2022, 90% of strategies will be centered around data & analytics. Data is becoming more and more important esp. with the advent of real-time analytics including the ability to apply ML algorithms at the edge. Self scaling data platforms, data quality and data governance is a cornerstone of many successful digital transformation stories.

Note: Check out the infographics in this article for the growing relevance of data initiatives in organisations

Another aspect is that of automating repetitive tasks that require human intervention – RPA or Robotic Process Automation clubbed with intelligence (read AI/ML) can not only automate tasks but also learn from historical data to improve the automation. Chatbots, Knowbots, Probots are now becoming mainstream with organisations exposing such technologies beyond B2C to include B2E.

Mobile has become the defacto for customer engagement. Matter of fact, employee engagement strategies are also becoming more and more mobile first. Combined with intelligent technologies, some organisations have developed unique ways of driving customer delight (and thus retention). Take the example of what TGI Fridays did with onboarding a virtual bartender – virtual and intelligent, a machine learning ‘Flanagan’.

A roadmap involving deploy and develop on hyperscalers is also a key part of many successful transition to digital. Large ERP vendors like SAP recently has focused on partnerships to drive hyperscale adoption for its customers.

Not all enterprises have a business model that of the ‘sharing economy’, which I believe is the most digitally disruptive. But even megacorps need to transform to keep themselves relevant. We all know the modern corporate folklore, tragic stories of Kodak, Nokia, Blockbuster, Sears etc – ‘arrested innovation’ or better known as the lack of transforming digitally came with a hefty price. Note that ‘digital’ (or the lack of it) was not the reason of failure for some of there giants. For example, Kodak failed to transform their business model. But then, revisiting or re-designing your core business, its processes and to do so, being agile is a key part of the DNA of going digital.

The question then is how to start this journey. Note that I cannot emphasis more of the fact that going digital is a journey – It is not that one or two projects will transform the organisation. To transform digitally, is a roadmap that one will define.

At this point, I would like to stress that as important is the role of technology, success of digital also depends on the culture.

“Company Culture is the product of a company’s values, expectations and environment.” – Courtney Chapman

Along with the profound change that is digital, leaders should focus on creating a digital culture also to ensure the journey and the outcome is realized to it’s full potential. As discussed in this article, digital transformation begins with a cultural transformation.

So as a cultural transformation is in motion, organisations should focus on starting small. By starting small I mean, identify high impact, less complex processes involving low/medium change management. These are ideal to digitize or transform. Any digital journey needs to deliver early RoI and thus amass support from the sponsors and business.

Paper based or manual processes are excellent choices. In my own experience, in some of our most successful transformation projects, the starting point has been to completely re-design cumbersome manual, paper based processes. The RoI is one of the most easiest to articulate – Who doesn’t get benefits like, “65% reduction in overall processing time” or “48 Person Days savings in efforts during end to end process execution”?

Once these early projects are deemed a success, it helps get the required buy-in that will then set the pace for an accelerated journey of transformation. Customer centric projects should then be the immediate focus. There is no sweeter reward for enterprises than transforming the customer experience. For companies that have a high employee count, focusing on ESS/MSS processes are also candidates of high RoI.

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” – Doug Conant

As the journey takes shape, more and more use cases will emerge. Based on org. priorities, one should create a roadmap that will focus on workplace transformation, customer experience/engagement, landscape transformation, information leverage and one that of remolding the operating model.

Many digital transformation initiatives fail or go muted. One of the key reasons but obvious is the continued focus and commitment to the journey. Along with the right building blocks, a digital culture, the right technology stackstarting small and a defined roadmap, a committed executive sponsorship can set the tone of success.

As a finishing note, I would like to point out a great article that puts forward one quintessential aspect – Focus on your customer and not your internal problems. While the point of view is insightful, I for one believe that the focus point has to be organisation specific. At times, one might find that they need to get their house in order to start having people over for a great party!

 

Note: The Original article can be found on LinkedIn

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