No Such Thing as Digital Transformation: Pure Transformation
Enough about getting pinged at 3 AM on LinkedIn about another potential sale and consulting lead to help in defining a Digital Strategy, an Innovation Roadmap, how Internet of Things (IoT), AI and Blockchain and the remaining exponential technologies will help you become the new disruptor with technology in your business arena, how you should join an innovation incubator of startups and trek-up to Silicon Valley and Singularity University and learn how disruptors really do it.
Been there, done that, everyone confuses you as you are planning or advancing your journey of “digital transformation”; tired of same rhetoric and truly, it is not about technology or digitalization (of course technology and use cases to do thing differently help) but in my experience, what really drives business or organization value, true disruption that makes anybody really amazed, does not start with technology, it starts with: Talent or People, Process and Technology enablement.
If I were to tell you from life experience that you normally will spend 2x in change management vs. technology on any true business value project, would you believe me? Would you have budgeted for this? Of course not! We all have not budgeted for this, we spend a lot of money on technology itself and the rest we spend just a few bucks, we know it’s hard to make people change their ways, to adopt these new processes and technologies, but it never truly appears on any of the starting digital innovation projects I´ve planned or experienced early on.
So I don´t believe in what has been termed as “digital transformation,” only using great technology to make processes better, putting technology first before people, is what is not being understood by many, and you can get caught in all of this as well.
All transformations or process innovation you will set out to do, will definitely use technology, so of course, everything will be digital as you redesign it, it has to have that component (you wouldn´t transform your sale process by designing a printed form to be filled out by everyone and mailed in). I am not trying to insult you in any way, I´m just trying to bring out that super smart person in you that knows this, without knowing in detail what ML with a closed-loop R2 algorithm in Python works. I am extremely pragmatic, optimistic, and truly understand how technology changes things, but I am a true believer and have experienced that this transformation, this disruption, needs to start with great talent.
First setting up an amazing, diverse, multi-discipline, multi-age, multi-gender group, that is motivated to transform a process or new business revenue stream potential, with good compensation but also with a healthy understanding of the emotional compensation of doing things, transcending and transforming, will guarantee any digital transformation project or product you take to market and will have a higher chance of succeeding. It is truly amazing when collaboration (remote with so many great tools out there), as well as an organization around execution, not only planning and strategizing but setting correct KPI for measuring success, be it productivity, capability or simply strategic positioning, will guarantee any mountain you try to tackle.
What really drives business or organization value, true disruption that makes anybody really amazed, does not start with technology, it starts with: Talent or People, Process and Technology enablement
Then choosing which processes need re-engineering to enable what you are trying to tackle, and I mean the big ones, not the easy ones like requiring only less fields to fill out a form on an app, but changing procurement to try to be able to do more PoC (Proof of Concepts), without doing a full roll-out or RFP to select right partner before gaining value, or how to compensate and train people to make sure the processes you change are adopted, not just ordered to be used, but convinced it would change and generate value, is key in coming in second in your journey.
Of course, choosing the right partner, technology and enablement that supports what you have greatly designed in your Design Thinking or eight hat sessions with your team, and sometimes using it as an example of best practice to do something that others do, so you do not reinvent the wheel or state that “we do it differently here, so we are special,” and not opening to using a model company or best practice, is what closes the loop in your journey, and affirms the value of the efforts you will make.
This perspective, this true result of many failures and successes I have witnessed, should be the most helpful tips anyone can give you in your journey, without paying a humongous tag to the big three consulting practices that charge you to tell you this at the end. I can confidently say, that no project is 100% guaranteed, but I play with risk, probabilities, and execution of value is my game, and having these three very well understood, aligned, and sometimes putting attention to one more than the other, depending on the maturity and timing of what you are doing, it is truly up to you and your business context, will have you navigating your “digital transformation” like a pro, and perhaps, and I am sure, you will teach us some more along the way.