Leading Digital Transformation – Finding the Right Solutions that Drive Innovation
Leading a successful digital transformation goes beyond investing in shiny new technology for your business operations. Real digital transformation is a well-thought-out process of identifying business needs and making informed decisions on acquiring the technology and skills that will solve those needs. Importantly, digital transformation should be an ongoing process of identifying developments and figuring how they might help your company improve product quality, customer service, communication, or any other operation.
A cultural change needs to occur in any organization seeking lasting transformation. Leaders have to create an environment where learning is encouraged, failure is not punished, and genuine efforts are rewarded. People will want to experiment, innovate, and share new ideas.
There should also be an overarching goal for seeking digital transformation. It could be something related to a mission statement but tangible enough for employees to have a grasp of it in their daily routines. For instance, the goal could be to use technology to provide the quickest and highest level of service possible to clients. A customer-centric approach to digital transformation is great because internal stakeholders can easily see how it will translate to business value.
As a leader charged with leading a successful digital transformation, here are a few important things you’ll need to have in mind.
How to Lead Digital Transformation
1. Clearly communicate why there is a need for digital transformation
It must be very clear in the CIO or CEO’s mind why an organization needs digital transformation. With this, they can articulate their vision for transformation to the board, employees, and external stakeholders.
A SWOT analysis is helpful in building a case for digital transformation. Developments in technology present opportunities to improve internal operations, develop new products, or increase market share. Improvements by competitors present a threat if those competitors succeed in creating a sustainable advantage through technology adoption on their own.
Consider two logistics companies that currently don’t have any technology to monitor data on the various delivery routes they operate. When one company starts collecting data and using it for decision-making, they might end up lowering costs, achieving faster delivery times, and passing on the benefits to customers through lower prices and better service. The other company would be edged out of the market unless they respond appropriately.
Why digital transformation is necessary
a) Digital transformation is survival
For a lot of companies, digital transformation comes as a way to survive shifts in their industry. This happens when there isn’t a clear roadmap for digitization. Suddenly, companies find themselves in scenarios where they need to get products to the market quickly or meet new customer expectations.
Taking a more proactive approach puts a company in good stead to budget for digital transformation. Here are a few great reasons for such an investment.
b) Better and faster decision making
Embracing technologies that leverage big data leads to discovery of insights that would otherwise go undetected. AI-based technology can sift through large volumes of data and predict future trends based on historical data. This enables the company to make decisions that help it stay ahead of the curve.
c) Data security
The security of data a company generates during their operations today is a great cause of concern for the CIO. In addition, remote working and hybrid models of work are more common than ever before. Staff need training on how to prevent or respond to threats that seek to compromise company data. However, there also needs to be a method to evaluate the reliability of any third-party services the company might be using, including hosting, SaaS, and IaaS products.
d) Employee effectiveness
Digital transformation gives employers tools to be effective in their work. Automation of repetitive tasks such as payroll management and invoice processing, enable employees to take on more challenging tasks. Transformation also increases accuracy at work, which reflects positively on employees.
2. Build out a digital transformation roadmap
A digital transformation roadmap sets your plan in motion. Transformation can feel overwhelming when you consider the amount of time and resources you need to invest.
Analyzing current state
First, a company needs to analyze its current state against the goals it seeks to achieve. A SWOT analysis helps to identify strengths that the company can lean back on during the process. A good cash position, a culture of learning, or a mix of great technical skills amongst employees are great examples of useful strengths in such a process.
Next, the company needs to list and prioritize the list of issues to be addressed in the digital transformation process. In most cases, the process will take several years. The best approach is to classify the issues on a two-dimensional matrix of impact vs effort. Low effort-high impact tasks represent quick wins and should be prioritized to build momentum. High impact-high effort tasks are major projects that require meticulous planning.
Use automation software to help you lead the digital transformation
Olive’s digital transformation platform can help you lead digital transformation efforts and automate tedious aspects of the process. With Olive you can build a project roadmap and see it to completion, however long that might take. It can also help you evaluate solutions based on company needs, so you are not procuring or purchasing solutions blind. You can use olive to plan your digital transformation goals together with the various accompanying projects. Olive allows labeling of projects according to their stages, allowing you to visualize goals that you intend to complete over the next few years and the impact they will have.
3. Set detailed KPIs and budgets
The roadmap should include key performance indicators for everything to be undertaken in the transformation process. The KPIs need to be specific and measurable. A good example would be ‘cutting operational expenses by 10% in the next 12 months’ or ‘increasing revenue by 20% in 2 years.’
Similarly, budgets for the transformation process need to be made after thorough research. They need to be detailed and a result of discussions with relevant people within the company.
4. Establish a team of influential stakeholders to lead a culture of change
If this is the first time leading a major digital transformation program, you will need the support of key internal stakeholders. Identifying the right stakeholders is crucial.These are the managers and front-line employees who will execute the transformation plan. In most cases, influential people will be departmental heads and team leaders within the company.
The top leadership should include these influential people in planning as early as possible. Inclusion sends a message of transparency. High-performing companies have a higher degree of transparency regarding change implementation.
Once these leaders are identified, the company needs to invest in them through training before assigning them any responsibility. The training does not always need to be technical. However, they need to understand why the company is pursuing digital transformation. Once the actual transformation begins, these stakeholders may then be assigned roles to supervise the transition. Often these stakeholders are project or department heads or Business Analysts.
There needs to be a clear strategy on how engagement with these stakeholders will translate to influence over the rest of the staff members. In most cases, a series of memos and newsletters keeps employees in the know over upcoming changes and developments in the company. By using Olive, all stakeholders and survey respondents (including C suite) have transparency into each stage of the project along with overarching goals.
However, the change team should also bring in any concerns that employees have over impending change. Addressing these concerns will forestall the likelihood of a resistance to change. The easiest way to mitigate this pushback is to ensure all stakeholders and people affected by the change have an early say in the project.
5. Engage, collaborate and align with the stakeholders
By the time it’s put together, your digital transformation team will consist of people from different cadres within the company. The C-suite executives are important because their voice represents the company’s position on important matters. The managers below the C-suite level are closer to the company’s day-to-day operations. They interact with the front-line workers and can pick up important sentiments from them. Their feedback is important to collect to improve user adoption later, and to ensure that the solution chosen works for the entire company. The supervisors directly contact the front-line workers and provide incentives and rewards for desired outcomes.
6. Foster a culture of change to embrace digital transformation
Organizations are always at the risk of stagnation after change. The goal ought to be creating a culture of constant improvement. How do digital transformation leaders go about setting this up in the culture?
While technical skills are important, the values that a company upholds are what keep a culture of change and transformation alive. When leading digital transformation, identify those values that you think will help staff embrace change and make constant improvement part of the culture. These values are what new employees should adapt to. Writing about these values in company publications and speaking about them in company functions helps people to keep them top of mind.
Stories are important in the journey of any organization. It’s how values and culture get passed down through the years. Stories evoke emotions, which is what makes them effective. To inspire change, leaders often recall stories of change in the past that elevated the organization. When a similar elevation happens in the present, it’s important to document and publicize the story to the relevant stakeholders.
Employees are keen to see whether management will follow through on promises of change and transformation. Therefore, leaders must remain aware of the impact their mood, energy, and level of consistency have to the overall psyche of the organization. It’s important to stick to the project roadmap, hit and celebrate milestones to send the correct message to staff members.
7. Set the team up for success with a collaborative technology evaluation platform
As highlighted earlier, creation of a roadmaps involves prioritization of the various needs the organization must achieve proper digitization. But the selection of technology can get quite complex. There are numerous stakeholders whose input is paramount while selection of vendors is a long process requiring a lot of correspondence. The lack of proper communication channels can lead to wastage of time and possibility of some projects being abandoned midway.
How Olive Helps you Lead Digital Transformation Projects
Olive provides IT teams and IT consultantswith a a platform where they can see all the projects to be undertaken on the digital transformation roadmap, and collaborate on the gathering and ranking of requirements to determine what is truly needed for the transformation to be successful The projects can be tagged according to the current stage- planning, on hold, active, completed, archived, or any other relevant tag.
For each project, the client or company can make a detailed description of the requirements. Olive makes this process faster and easier.
1. Consensus building
How does a CIO or consultant leading a digital transformation help a team of stakeholders settle on the right solution for a particular problem? Olive allows the creation of surveys so that respondents can vote or express themselves on issues. High level results can be accessed by all stakeholders for the sake of transparency. The surveys can be used to rank several competing vendor solutions so that the right solution is chosen as per the company requirements.
2. Bringing vendors on board
As stakeholders continue giving their input on a project’s requirements and ranking them, you can invite vendors to come and respond to inquiries and requests. Some of the questions are likely to revolve on the ability to customize a solution to suit the company’s requirements. Questions can also be asked on the level of support the vendor is willing to provide. The vendor responses to these inquiries will then be used in the selection. As the project understanding grows, requirements and rankings can be revisited.
3. Visualization of data
When dealing with a large team of stakeholders, it can be quite difficult to ensure everyone understands the large amounts of data gathered in research, surveys, and vendor responses. However, Olive visualizes data in charts, assigns scores to vendors based on responses.. A match score is given to all vendors, based on how well they meet the requirements. You can see whether or not a vendor is a match or miss match depending on this aggregated data.
Digital transformation of a company is a complex undertaking involving projects spread out, typically, over several years. Succeeding needs meticulous planning and execution, and above all, leadership that understands the importance of a thorough software selection process that prioritizes agile stakeholder collaboration.
Stakeholders within the company need to be involved every step of the way. It’s also important to find ways to instill a culture of continuous improvement and adoption of useful technology. The wrong solution can have the opposite effect on the digital transformation.