I struggle with the term Digital Transformation. It is far too fluffy and open to misinterpretation and misunderstanding, subject to extreme industry hype, and doesn't really capture what is going on. Delivering a new mobile app, improving the ecommerce customer experience, delivering an omni-channel experience, or a chatbot is not Digital Transformation - it is a part of it, arguably an important part of it, but there is so much more to it. If you want to make the most of your Digital Transformation dollar, then it is worth stepping back and looking at the bigger picture.
A Response To The Disruption
Digital Transformation is best thought of as a response to the disruption caused by major technology trends. Thinking of it this way, it is actually business transformation - changing how an enterprise creates and delivers its products and services. The value it can deliver to an organisation goes far beyond smarter digital channels.
If it feels like your Digital Transformation initiatives are dealing with disruption at a tactical or responsive level, then you may well be changing too slow and almost certainly not taking full advantage of what new technologies can offer. At the very best you will be “keeping up with the Jones’s”, more likely you are being left behind as your competitors (or a brand new entrant) find innovative new ways to do what you do. Worst than that, you may become obsolete as your customers move to new products.
To really get ahead you need to make disruption part of your strategy, and make change part of your culture. Look for ways that you can disrupt yourself rather than be disrupted, and create a work environment that encourages change and challenges the norm. There are plenty of companies that take this very seriously at a board level and task the executive with continually looking for opportunities for self disruption. These are the companies that stand the best chance of survival in our ever changing world, as they are themselves continually changing.
Be sure that Digital Transformation looks at every aspect of your value chain and every aspect of operational support. Consider how you can apply technologies to increase internal efficiency and reduce costs, to speed up product development, to better understand your customer. This is what Steps to success in Digital Transformation calls digitizing for operational excellence. These internal benefits of Digital Transformation can deliver so much value, but are often overshadowed by the shinier external deliverables.
But delivering operational excellence will only be possible if transformation is part of an organisation’s strategy, driven by executive leadership as a whole, and supported by a culture that embraces change. Otherwise organisational structure, funding issues and other political concerns will prevent changes or significantly reduce the value they deliver to the organisation.
And strategy must itself continually change. It can no longer be a drawn out exercise that produces a 3 year plan. Instead, strategy needs to be a living thing and the process of strategising needs to happen regularly within each year.