What is Digital Transformation?
Digital Transformation is the strategic use and integration of today’s enabling technologies to transform the way business is transacted with all stakeholders (internal/external) – whether they are investors purchasing your Mutual Funds or city residents needing a dog license.
When properly done, Digital Transformation will offer
automation, insight and transparency across the enterprise and out into the market.
Benefits of Digital Transformation
It holds the promise of better service, new business models, breakthrough efficiency and competitive advantages that keep you ahead of disruptions you may not be able to anticipate.
Digital Transformation Elements
Digital Transformation takes many different shapes. However, there are underlying elements that are similar in all cases and understanding what these are can provide a common path to success.
Digital Transformation Roadmap
The idea in a digital transformation roadmap is to assure that all 3 lenses of operations — Technical Feasibility, Business Viability, and Stakeholder Desires — are continually top of mind so that they can be met.
Phase 1: Digital Readiness
In service of Business Viability your Digital Transformation team must work with the executive staff to understand their current business model including their current company Vision and strategies in support of that vision. In these discussions your team will start exploring what the strategic overlay for the vision might look like as well as explore some digital transformation business outcomes with short, mid, and long-term business outcome goals.
To support Stakeholder Desires, it is best to start with a cross-functional internal view before moving to the external stakeholders. This will include internal company interviews covering a diverse set of internal stakeholders (Operations, Sales, Marketing, Finance, Engineering, IT) evaluating their viewpoint of current culture, desired outcomes, and obstacles for this transformation. These interviews help to build a holistic understanding of the client’s transformational readiness as well as uncovering any cultural/political/process hurdles that will need to be made transparent and be managed through the journey.
Technical Feasibility will require working with the engineering and IT departments to understand their current technical setup. This information will start to form a picture of the right technology path including what will need to be retired, supplemented, changed, or added to realize the necessary business supporting technology system.
Phase 2: Digital Development
Going into Phase 2 you will now have a decent picture of what the desired business outcomes are as well as a clear view of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) system to put in place along with the partners to make that happen. The intention of this phase will be to develop towards the production phase of the MVP as well as the rollout of the new business model.
There will be a lot of development work happening in this phase. This will include having oversight of multiple projects that need to be continually guided along a path that is technically feasible while keeping in mind the short and long term business outcome goals.
This is the right time to start identifying available and trusted beta customers and/or channel partners. Any system that is being built will require some hands-on User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX) work and the user feedback will be crucial along the development path to assure the best chance at a successful production launch.
The digital transformation will fall flat if there can’t be a smart way designed for stakeholders to interact with the new business models and systems.
During Phase 2 is a great time to start building up marketing and sales strategies so they are already in process with a running start going into the live production launch.
Assuming all this time and effort is being put into a true Digital Business Transformation, there will be some exciting business models to talk about and advertise. Done right, this will also inherently elevate the discussion of your commercial offering giving your marketing and sales teams a rare opportunity to use this change to target both higher decision levels in the current target companies you are working with as well as open doors to potential new business targets.
There is also a very good chance that through your new systems and offerings you can branch out and find potential business partners that move your business up the value chain in your serviceable markets.
Phase 3: Digital Launch
This is where the business outcome model gets launched. As discussed in phase 2 the sales and marketing strategies have already gotten underway and there has been some market and lead customer discussions prepping for the launch. These new business models and tools will be worked into the whole company to allow for the holistic transformation.
This will be an important time for all of the team to be readily available including partners to attend to field bugs and customer concerns. The reason to use the beta sites and beta customers in Phase 2 is to lead to a smooth rollout but there are always unforeseen issues at launch. Customers will allow a little leeway but not much and it will be key to be able to respond to any concerns or issues very quickly.
These new offerings and business models open new longer term interaction models and customers will not tolerate a buggy non-user friendly system.
Phase 4: Digital Transformation
Digital Transformation is a journey and it doesn’t have a definitive stopping point. Assuming you planned well up front you are now doing business in a new way that is transforming how you interact inside and outside of your company. As you are doing this there will be many learning opportunities to build upon and you also have your mid and long term business outcomes you will build towards.
Quarterly meetings should be facilitated to review the measurable success of the targeted business outcomes, course correct expectations where needed, and put plans in place to scale the business offerings using the built in scalability in the system. Knowing that there are few companies that will fully pull this transformation together you will be building competitive advantages that should relentlessly be improved and expanded upon to keep those advantages in place. This is a process that should never end.