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This is the first in a series of articles about digital transformation. Before we get down to detail let us first explore the reasons why.
Businesses have been transforming throughout their existence, they would have gone bust long ago if that were not the case. So what makes digital transformation so different? Why can’t it be regarded in the same way as any other transformation of the past? The answer is simply the speed of that change. At no time in the past has the speed of change been so astronomically fast. Recent studies have concluded that when 65% of the children in primary education today enter the workplace after they graduate they will be doing jobs that have not yet been invented. Not only is this a huge problem for governments and educationalists in planning for the future, but it is also necessitating a complete change in the approach to implementing transformational programmes now. This is not an article to debate the pros and cons of different project methodologies, however, the old idea that a transformation project has a defined completion date and pre-described delivery success criteria is an outdated notion.
According to recent research undertaken by Forrester in April of this year, 56% of firms already have digital transformations underway, 15% are investigating, 7% are improving but not transforming and a staggering 21% think their digital transformation is complete.
So folks – the train now leaving platform 1 is the 20.18 Digital Transformation Express, over half of firms surveyed by Forrester are on board this train in some way or another. For various reasons 44 % are not, some of those have got lost on their way to the station, some think the journey is not worth undertaking and the remainder need to have the reasons for undertaking the journey explained again to point out that this is a journey that never ends.
When planning a journey we usually start by establishing where the journey will begin, then determine where it will it end, and finally, work out the route we will take to get there. As stated above this journey does not end, so conventional planning goes out of the window. So the first question needs to be ‘Why are we taking this digital transformation journey?’ The reasons for embarking on a digital transformation journey generally fall into two categories, either Fear or Excitement. If it is the former there is usually a fear of being left behind or losing competitive advantage, if it is the latter it is the excitement of being involved in something new and leading edge. Paradoxically both have their advantages and disadvantages.
If it is fear that has brought you this far you are more likely to be in the 44% not on the train. You could still be working out what to do, have your head in the sand or have speedily completed an automation project that has been dressed up as transformation to get the monkey off your back. If any of this resonates with you, ask yourself why that is so, there will be numerous reasons. The next article in the series will discuss how to analyse and resolve those fears and turn them into positives.
If it is excitement that has brought you here, then congratulations you are probably in amongst the 56% on the train. However, do not become too excited just yet. Make sure that you have also gone through the same thought process as to why you are here and what you are looking to achieve. You will have already had some sort of executive support to have secured the funding to buy your ticket but once you are on the train will you be left to carry the responsibility alone or will the rest of the top table be in the carriage with you?
Whether you are in the Fear or Excitement camp when asking ‘Why are we taking this journey?’ analyse the drivers. In basic economics there are two ways for a business to make profits; reduce costs and/or increase revenue. Achieving both at the same time is the most desirable state but you must be able to do one or the other. Which of those is most important will vary from business to business and the emphasis between them will vary at different times. When you have answered that question you will be able to determine the initial path your journey will take. For example, if reducing costs is more important at this time, your first digital transformations could be aimed at process engineering, using bots to reduce the call centre staff, reducing the number of documents produced and developing automated decision making processes to name a few.
Hopefully, you are now all convinced this is one journey you must take. In the following articles in the series, we will make the digital transformation journey successful.
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