Look at Digital Transformation as a Journey
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Look at Digital Transformation as a Journey

John Carder, CIO & Vice President of Technology, Messer Construction Co.
John Carder, CIO & Vice President of Technology, Messer Construction Co.

John Carder, CIO & Vice President of Technology, Messer Construction Co.

At first, undergoing a digital transformation can feel like an overwhelming mission, but if you look at it as a journey instead of a deliverable, you will be able to provide incremental value to your company in short order. 

An important prerequisite to a successful digital transformation initiative is to have your house in order. In other words, it’s hard to leap into digital roadmap initiatives if your core operations and computing utility are not up to par (i.e., organizational alignment, a reliable and scalable infrastructure, robust security, and adequate funding). Without these table stakes in place, you will not be able to drive value and innovate effectively. 

With a checkmark next to the table stakes, there are many ways to proceed with a digital transformation depending on your unique circumstances. Here’s one way to approach this opportunity.

  An important prerequisite to a successful digital transformation initiative is to have your house in order. In other words, it’s hard to leap into digital roadmap initiatives if your core operations and computing utility are not up to par   

First, clearly define what a digital transformation means to the organization. For me, it means using technology to improve how our employees work and interact with our customers and suppliers. It is important to socialize this definition with executives and get buy-in for your vision. 

Next, conduct listening interviews with department and operations leaders. Be proactive and prime the discussions by doing some research in each area of the business and bring ideas to the table. Ask questions such as:

• How can technology help improve the productivity and efficiency of our employees?

• How can we use technology as a differentiator to grow our business?   

Create a list of opportunities from your discussions and narrow the list down to your top recommendations. One example might be to create a business portal that manages all interactions with your suppliers. 

For each initiative:  

• Identify internal champions as project sponsors.

• Get sponsor and business buy-in for each recommendation.

• Identify and quantify the return on investment and value-add to the business.

• Map projects to the business strategy or core values (e.g., top-line revenue generation, cost control, risk management, operational excellence, quality, or safety).

• Identify “just do it” projects that can serve as early wins. They typically are low cost with big business impact.

• Provide Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) estimates that include revenue-generating, cost-saving, and/or cost-avoidance opportunities.

• Quantify the cash and P&L impacts by year, including one-time costs.

• Socialize the list to the appropriate audience and get input on priorities.

• Secure funding. If you have an R&D budget, invest in pilots and proofs-of-concept.

• Create a roadmap and high-level Gantt chart. Ensure you factor in other department resources and schedules, as some projects will span across multiple departments.

• Set realistic schedule expectations.

• Measure and report on progress.

Now it’s time to execute your vision. Remember that while this is a journey, the goal is to turn your approach and methodology into a repeatable process, so you’re ready when new digital opportunities arise.

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