Digital tools and technology are changing how people interact, and in turn this changes how people do business. Depending on how companies manage projects, programs, and investment decisions, the scope and effort required to achieve a digital transformation of their business are different.
To set a digital transformation on the right course, a company must place it at the core of its agenda. And business leaders will head in the right direction if they grasp the fundamental importance of heavyweight management commitment, are willing to make significant investments, and set clear, ambitious targets. Let’s discover a six-step path to a successful digital transformation for your business.
1. Understand the need for digital transformation
Vague goals lead to vague results. In order to create a successful enterprise digital transformation program, business leaders or CEOs need to grasp thoroughly their business.
“Why do you need a digital transformation? What must you achieve in order to transform? What do you need to transform? What changes are required in order to transform?” The C-suite need to have clarity around them before you proceed to the next steps of your digital journey.
2. Set achievable and clear targets
After thoroughly understanding the need, business leaders need to set the organization’s sights at the right level with clear targets. Without targets, people who find it hard to accept that the old ways of doing things were massively inefficient and might be content to sign up for a 10 percent improvement in cycle time, for example, when 100 percent is possible.
Targets are also needed for each source of value creation—cost savings, revenues, improved performance of agents, and satisfaction of employees and customers—and for new ways of working and the new capabilities required. For example, for the frequency of releases, the percentage of processes that will be automated, the percentage of transactions that will be migrated from one channel to another, the fraction of new code that will be tested automatically, the level of personalization that will be achieved, and the number of campaigns that will be run each month.
Moreover, setting clear targets at the outset prevents back-sliding when the going gets tough. It imposes discipline on the process of deciding which initiatives to pursue for maximum impact.
3. Start lighthouse projects with a high-caliber launch team
It is easy to launch change initiatives. But it is hard to keep them afloat and spawn more. Often companies decide to fund several, assign people, even set up separate units. But then the initiatives fail to take off and the old ways of doing business continue much the same.
To ensure early efforts thrive and build momentum, companies should consider carefully projects, which offer potential for significant rewards with manageable risk, to start with and support them with the necessary resources.
Leadership skills are essential too. Transformation is not just about tipping everything upside down, reinventing products, and disrupting value chains. It is partly about balancing old and new and integrating fresh talent with old, valued hands.
4. Nurture a digital culture, agile ways of working
The way a company organizes itself is key to a successful launch. Separating a digital component from the rest of the organization will promote new ways of working for digital success, such as agile product development, test-and-learn methods that speed progress while keeping the focus on customers, and cross-functional teams that pool specific types of expertise.
Renewing heritage with innovative ways of thinking and working, it is recalling what initially made a successful digital transformation. Business leaders will need to understand the value of digital transformation for their business and set up an IT literacy program to educate and update business line managers. However, it will be important to help all employees rethink the way they work, as the end result of a digital transformation that is the establishment of a company-wide agile operating model. Digital ways of working and thinking also need to take hold across the organization and nurture them.
5. Sequence initiatives for quick returns
Tracking returns is essential to ensure all available value is captured. Often, targets can be raised during the course of the transformation as prototypes reveal greater productivity improvements than have been assessed on paper. And when initiatives are successful and deliver the intended financial benefits, business leaders should be emboldened to push to achieve more. But while concentrating effort and attention on what works well matters, so does letting go of what does not.
6. Adopt a new operating model
In the digital age, when companies need to reinvent the way they work on the fly, an inability to connect all parts of the organization to share data, expertise, and talent can be crippling. That is why companies will have to lean away from a traditional matrix structure with rigid functional boundaries if the transformation is to succeed. They will need a network structure, organizing around sources of value, with product managers empowered to make decisions with implications that cut across functions. In other words, the entire companies, not just IT, will adopt an agile approach to working. Agile principles are now standard operating procedure for software design, but the principles are also applicable any time you need to orchestrate a large number of people to get something complex and multi-faceted done over an extended time frame.
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