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. Not a gap, perhaps, more like a gulf between digital desire and digital readiness. You can’t go digital until you have digital capabilities. So, the logical thing to do is to undergo 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, processes, and tools that make up the underpinnings of a solid Digital infrastructure – one that can genuinely embrace digital successfully.
Five common indicators can help determine where to focus your efforts when making a massive change like Digital Transformation. If any of these sounds like you, spend the time to work on addressing them based on your specific environment before you pay the dollars for 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 mandate that it works on a token ring network using only Netscape 1.0. That’s a sign that you bought software and aren’t looking for a solution. We recently had a customer require that we work within an extended 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 cartoon below sound familiar?
2) No executive sponsorship exists, or the Digital Transformation software was purchased from a single user based on their pain. If you take on a significant change effort, you must have a REAL Sponsor to help usher/force the change. No matter how adept you are at change, it’s always better to have someone saying that you need to take it on. Even the best of us get fed up with change – and we need someone with apparent Influence to nudge us. Empathy (and Influence) only goes so far, so if a software is purchased because some random person in the Organization felt pain, 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 can’t stop bickering about who is in control and how things should be YOUR way and not another group’s 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 group’s failure, you 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 purchased the software or if you tried to transform because your competitors digitally transformed – then you don’t know what success looks like for you. To succeed in digital transformation, you must clearly understand 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 to get those chiseled abs. Come on, commit to the resources to make the changes happen. Too often, we see customers buy our software and then disappear as if the change will happen to them. The software is part, and the people and the process are the other (probably more important) parts.
6) You purchased for price only, or your Procurement department led the purchase. Sometimes, one vendor’s price tag comes in under another vendor, and procurement makes the final call. However, procurement is not often the recipient of the change. Here’s a classic example of a failed implementation where the price was the lead issue, leading to many additional implementation issues along the way.
Don’t skimp on your Organization’s future way of working. There aren’t any shortcuts in dollars, time, or commitment. However, the more time you spend upfront 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.
- In the age of AI, digital transformation for businesses is critical – however, there are five common indicators to consider before investing in a digital transformation initiative.
- The indicators include avoiding constraints imposed by outdated processes or tools, the need for executive sponsorship, the impact of a politically charged environment, the importance of setting clear goals and success factors, and the commitment of resources to drive the changes.
- In short, a company needs to be clear about their objectives and the necessary steps for success.
- Upfront planning and clarity are instrumental in driving successful digital transformation efforts.
Originally posted August 16, 2018