It is a prevalent phenomenon, CXOs driving digital transformation plan a multipronged strategy to reach the end-game in fulfilling company vision. But those plans and road maps fail all too frequently and go asunder because the design is too entrenched with no room for contingency.
The reason: while they know their destination, they don’t have the full measure of the challenges that await and what changes will be required as they grow and go along the path to transformation – year on year.
Technology grows exponentially. This means that solutions, designs, and applications grow old quickly – will be modified or made redundant in a couple of years because of the accelerated pace of change. It is the era of digital renaissance and there are many unpredictable forces that will upset the apple cart and lead your plans astray.
Sustainable Digital Transformation
So, the real challenge in the digital transformation strategy is the ability to adjust your plans quickly to the changing environment and make changes to your plans as the decisions and capabilities become more defined. It is thus necessary to segment the digital road map into short sprints or stages that enable agility and allow flexibility to make changes as you go.
Generally, you can identify three decision-making areas that are potential pitfalls but can enhance your plan’s success if handled carefully.
Remember that technologies can and will change drastically in a span of a couple of years (that you have mapped for your transformation project). Prepare for extensible solutions – ones that can be modified easily to accommodate the changes that weren’t part of your original blueprint.
Your design principles need to assume and allow for many changes and detours to reach your destination. This means choosing your tools and software wisely and opting for the widely-accepted infrastructure platforms for development. So, that it has the benefit of a larger pool of people who can work with these systems and you don’t fall into the legacy architecture resource crunch trap.
One emerging trend for making the quantum leap is to find new ways to engage with, acquire and retain customers in the competitive scenario. This is especially crucial in the more heavily disrupted industries like finance, banking, retail, hospitality, travel etc. The hyper connected digital world has bypassed several levels of intermediaries in these domains and created more accessible peer-to-peer (P2P networks).
Digital tech like big data, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) will play a larger function in defining the customer journey from the acquisition, engagement to retention. The need for scalability and anytime/anywhere access means less reliance on physical data centers and more on cloud capabilities.
To create more valuable and sustainable customer experiences, future-proof businesses need to integrate a variety of technologies. This will also help them create new value through their products/services. Albeit there is no way, leaders can predict what technologies and perceptions of value will be dominant in the three-to-five-year span of their journey. It is thus important to phase out their digital transformation plan in sprints for an easier transition and change management.
It is easy to lose perspective and focus when a transformation initiative spans a couple of years and is carried out across locations. Often people with the original vision exit the organization or companies falter in a multi-year project like application modernization or complex technology implementation. This is why documenting and defining the objectives and plan clearly at the outset is crucial. A strategic intent document that describes the vision and intent must also include the perceived benefits and various phases of the journey. This document then becomes the bible for planning the approach and ensuring continuity and consistency for the entire life-cycle of the project.
Someone once said that digital transformation is like changing the tire while driving. The analogy could be further extended. It is also driving to a never-seen destination with increasingly complex and unforeseen challenges thrown for the drivers to navigate their course and achieve the milestones. By ensuring technological extensibility, building a more connected world and documenting your approach at the outset, you are prepared well to tackle the challenges head on. It is then that your transformation efforts achieve breakthrough performance.