The reality is that 70% of transformations fail to deliver on expectations simply because they are not really transformative. Upgrading back-office ERP systems, creating new digital experiences, or moving legacy apps to the cloud are not digital business transformations. Rather these are short-lived business differentiators – your competitors will quickly catch up.
To be transformative, business changes must be linked to outcomes - they must support what your business is changing from. And more importantly, they must be aligned with what you’re changing to. For this, a business transformation strategy is required; a strategy that will re-shape your business as a digital business, focused on using technology to continuously deliver new value and better customer outcomes.
There’s quite a lot of work involved and challenges to avoid which is exactly why it’s a good idea to work with a digital transformation partner - an agency or consultancy with experience in navigating the digital transformation landscape and ensure the best chances of success for your project.
What are the key success factors for digital transformation?
Let me start by explaining the key success factors of digital transformations:
- A strategic vision with clear transformation goals – the strategy has defined business transformation outcomes and has defined why, what and how they will be delivered
- A leadership team committed to the digital transformation – the C-suite is the engine room of the digital transformation and a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) marshals the resources, funding and relationships necessary to execute digital transformation
- An incremental approach to transformation and effective monitoring of progress – the business has a phased, iterative approach to projects, with clear metrics and targets that deliver demonstrable outcomes and incremental value
- A talented team – the management team has identified and made available the most capable, skilled resources to drive the transformation programme
What skills are required to deliver digital transformation?
Delivering digital transformation programmes requires a broad mixture of skills. Transformation leaders need digital expertise and a digital mindset, as well as the ability to navigate organisational dynamics.
Alongside these, they also should be able to demonstrate persistence, pragmatism, resilience, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence and learning agility.
Businesses often don’t have the mixture of skills that they need, or they underestimate the skills and expertise of the people required to deliver successful digital transformation outcomes. For the 70% of transformations that fail, failure (in part) can be attributed to organisations that have tried to build digital capabilities internally.
Businesses must assess the value in creating their own digital capabilities, asking critical questions of themselves:
- Is this really our corporate core competency?
- Do we have the time and budget to develop the skills we need?
- Perhaps we should appoint a partner with a demonstrable track record of delivering measurable results?
What kind of digital transformation services should the right partner offer?
In a digitally transforming world, partners play a bigger role than ever before. There are four key areas in a digital transformation programme where partners can add significant value:
- Change management
Strategy partners can help flesh out your transformation strategy, map out your value dependency network, and uncover strategic opportunities and threats.
Strategy partners can also identify key applications and services you’ll need to implement or develop to unlock new business value. They can assist in setting up your organisational structure for the transformation and help establish the appropriate processes for your business.
Software partners provide the right technology stack to power your digital transformation. They offer a cohesive set of high-quality services for building advanced digital applications with large data volumes.
Tip: Avoid software partners without proven track records of delivering technology applications at scale.
Professional services partners can help build your advanced digital applications and/or augment your staff. They can provide teams of developers, data integration and migration specialists if you don’t have those talents in house.
Good service partners can demonstrate a proven model of agile development and delivery.
New digital applications and services only deliver value when your organisation engages with them and exploits the opportunities they offer. A change management partner understands how humans respond to change and engage with technology.
They recognise how the nature of the work will change and understand that your workforce must be trained, incentivised, organised and motivated to take advantage of the new technologies. Otherwise, the expected benefits won’t accrue.
Picking the right digital transformation partner
“Is a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) really necessary? Shouldn’t the CEO lead the transformation?” are two frequently asked questions. In our view, a CEO should lead the company and an experienced, full-time CDO should lead the transformation.
By the same token, a transformation partner is not a replacement for the CDO. The transformation partner is the CDO’s trusted advisor; an organisation with a track record of delivering transformation programmes preferably with expertise in all four areas of strategy, technology, services and change management.
It seems we live in a time where every technology vendor is claiming to be an expert in digital transformation. But of course, not all can be. Whilst many can point to track records of helping clients create new digital experiences, as I mentioned earlier, this does not equate to expertise in digital transformation.
True digital transformation is disruptive; for your business to stand out from its competitors, you must apply disruptive design thinking to your transformation strategy. To do this, businesses must become agile and adaptable, ready and able to embrace emerging technologies and use them to re-shape the business around customer outcomes.
Transforming your business into a digital business means doing things differently across the board.
To accelerate your company’s ability to harness emerging technologies, you need to find the right transformation partner and invite them to help you create the future. Yes, they can also help you fix the present, but if you constrain them to just that, you’ll never get the best from their most creative talent, and you’ll lose speed versus your rivals.
The right digital transformation partner can help shape, execute, accelerate and scale true digital business transformation on a global scale.
Where you can find out more
To learn more about the digital transformation services available on the market, reach out to us today. At Columbus, we've been helping businesses of a variety of industries achieve their digitally transformed dreams for over 30 years.
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