Digital Transformation Simplified, Written by Phil Ventresca, M.B.A.

Digital Transformation Simplified

What is Digital Transformation (DT)? I hear many questions from clients in the Middle Market, that could help us all to better understand the what, why, and how associated with DT. Many large organizations started DT years ago through Business Continuity Planning, Cloud Migration, and Talent Mobility. In the early days, the term DT was not predominate because business was simply evaluating the best technology to drive continuity, sustainability, and succession in the most optimal way.

Over the years, we saw companies like Oracle, SAP, IBM and others meet the needs of mid and large size business with enterpsie technology systems to support all aspects of the organization. This evolution was really the genesis of DT as we refer to it today. However, in the most forward-looking companies we are recognizing a need to leverage the following evaluation topics to refine a DT strategy and ultimately discover what is best for unique client organizations.

  • Scale
  • Adoption
  • Integration

Although the above items may seem oversimplified for such a wide topic, they are the foundational blocks to support a successful DT effort. Let’s take a look at each of these items in more detail to add some context:

Scale

Simply stated, scale matters to all businesses, regardless of size, because without the abilty to scale, you also have no ability to grow. DT should enable scale through the people, process, and technology, or DNA, of the company, and should do so by adding value. “Value to Scale,” is your first step toward defining exactly what your organization “needs” to meet the goals of your DT effort. It is in this evaluation topic that will help determine the “what.” In order to define the “what” you need to have a clear vision of the objectives you want to accomplish and thus a refined operational plan to baseline from.

Adoption

Once we define the “what” we can focus on the “why.” Ask yourself, “why do we need to embrace a DT effort?”  The reflection that comes from that exercise should provide clarity about the objectives you want to accomplish. These objectives must be strategic and cut across your business. Areas like, growth, diversification, talent management, and many more will come up in this conversation. Critically, your team must collaborate with transparency and all stay focused on the end game. The results of a pure effort in this evaluation topic will paint a picture that includes your cultural norms alongside of the business needs. This cross reference of the hard and soft side of the business will ensure the execution of the DT deliverables will go smoothly.

Integration

This is where the work gets done. Scale and Adoption efforts should have provided a clear picture of the what and why, but now we need to define the “how.”  There are two sides to this effort, the project management side and the change/impact side. As any large scale project goes, we must be prepared for the application and the best way to do that is with a refined Project Execution Plan (PEP). The PEP must be agile, collaborative, measurable, and well managed.

The output of all three evaluation categories will allow you to create a viable DT plan and support it with everything needed to get it implemented. Experience has shown that the following considerations are critical:

  • Buy-in across the enterprise will reduce impacts due to change and the unknown. Structure a communication plan to coincide with the final plan.
  • Change Management in regard to risk mitigation strategies and other variables that will impact the enterprise.
  • Project/Program Management to support execution in a structured and well staffed process.
  • Training as needed to support the hard and soft skills associated with new technology and skills of the future.

DT is already well underway in most organizations.  The challenge is to ensure we are on the right trajectory and have a full understanding as to why DT is important to us. Here are some reasons it is not only important, but mission critical:

  • Talent mobility
  • Security enhancement
  • Data access
  • Disaster recovery
  • Risk mitigation
  • Competitive advantage
  • Business performance optimization

In conclusion, I would say that the biggest challenge to DT is within our organizations themselves. The above stated thoughts will help to organize the way we look at DT and thus, enable a better plan. We find organizations that are at various stages of the effort and struggle with forward movement, or worse abandon the effort and just follow the technology. This untethered approach to DT will only serve to accomplish the exact opposite of optimization.

Bottom-line, define, plan, execute, and measure the effort to produce the best return on your DT effort.