As CEOs recognize that Digital Business is a thing that is likely not going away and shift to embrace digital, there seems to be a gap. You can’t go digital until you have digital capabilities. So the logical thing to do is to undergo what’s called digital transformation – which for some is just the process of purchasing a tool. I should say that that small minority has it wrong. Digital Transformation (sometimes called Digitization) is the change in people, process, and tools together that make up the underpinnings of a solid Digital infrastructure – one that can truly embrace digital successfully.
When making a massive change like Digital Transformation, there are 5 common indicators that can help you determine where to focus your efforts. If any of these sounds like you, spend the time to work on how to address them based on your specific environment before you spend the dollars on a software solution.
1) Force the change to follow the constraints of other archaic processes or tools. If you attempt to take on a digital transformation project don’t then mandate that it works on a token ring network using only Netscape 1.0. That is a sure sign that you bought a software and aren’t looking for a solution. We recently had a customer require that we work within a long deprecated version of Internet Explorer and SURPRISE! – the digital transformation was limited to only what that version of Explorer could handle. That decision turned a digitization project into just another software implementation. Does the below cartoon sound familiar?
2) There is no real Executive Sponsorship or the Digital Transformation software was purchased from a single user based on their pain. If you take on a significant Change effort, it’s critical that you have a true Sponsor to help usher/force the change. No matter how adept you are at change, it’s always better to have someone who is saying that you need to take it on. Even the best of us get fed up with change – and we need someone with clear influence to nudge us. Empathy only goes so far so if a software is purchased because someone felt a pain – then forget about it. Unless the C-levels are behind it; it’s not digital transformation, it’s a new app.
3) If you have a Politically-charged environment. If you are trying to transform your business but you can’t stop bickering about who is in control and how things should be YOUR way and not another groups way – then you will be in trouble. Heavily political environment transformation projects usually end poorly because the groups use the change effort to find fault with each other. When one group benefits from another groups failure, you simply aren’t ready for a digital transformation project.
4) You want to “upgrade” how you do work but don’t have any real goals or success factors (or they are incredibly vague and buzzwordy). If you bought the software because others bought the software or if you tried to digitally transform because your competitors digitally transform – then you don’t know what success really looks like for you. To succeed in digital transformation, you have to have a clear view of what Good looks like. Comparative success is called failure.
5) You are too busy – with little or no time or resources committed to the effort. When you commit to Digital Transformation, you don’t just buy the software and expect the change to happen. That’s like buying gym equipment and being surprised that you have to use it and it may even be painful in order to get those chiseled abs. Come on, commit to the resources to make the changes happen. Too often we see that Customers buy our software and then disappear as if the change will happen to them. The software is part, the people and the process are the other (probably more important) parts.
6) You purchased for price only or the purchase was lead by your Procurement department. There are times when one vendor comes in under another vendor and procurement makes the final call. However, procurement is not often the recipients of the change. Here’s a classic example of a failed implementation where the price was the lead issue – that led to many additional implementation issues along the way.
Don’t skimp on your organizations’ future way of working. There simply aren’t any shortcuts – either in dollars, or time, or commitment. The more time you spend up front being clear about what you are aiming to do and what success looks like (and what it will take) – the better off your organization will find itself when purchasing a software solution that can help drive your company forward.