Digital Transformation has been the new buzz for several years that encompasses a spectrum from simply moving processes to mobile platforms, to business process automation (RPA), to changing complete business models, channels, products, data monetization, and everything in between. Each organization’s position at the start of the digital transformation journey is different. Furthermore, their destinations may also differ. Each organization will struggle through the journey, achieving varying levels of successes – some will fail to innovate at the pace of their competition, existing and potential customers, or both.
In response, organizations appointed Chief Digital Officers. Chief Information Officers were assigned an expanded role, some acquired digital capabilities, and some turned to divisional business leadership while others initiated skunkworks projects. In the early stages, which is commonly known as storming, these are normal responses to the challenges at hand and require gut-wrenching organizational decision-making. Past that, however, to scale, it requires courage to slow or stop projects yielding marginal gains and an understanding of which parts of the business will produce most value: will it be new products, differentiated supply chains, new service delivery patterns, distributed labor, frictionless customer engagement, or new consumption models.
The dichotomy arises when leaders are unable to prioritize changes and stick to what they know well BUT at the same time recognize that a digital transformation strategy is needed to survive. For example, if an organization’s primary method to provide value to the customer was selling them a widget and suddenly a competitor provides an outcome of the widget at 50% of the cost, how does one transform, how does one manage the value offered to the stakeholders. One can look around and see the failures caused by inaction on the part of established players.
From a “business of technology” perspective, to affect sustainable business change, technology leaders have to adopt a rapid, scalable, and lean Digital Transformation model which is:
- At the intersection of product complexity and innovation cycle time (a.k.a. closeness to the products)
- Reflected in the organizational design to help achieve its aspirations (core skills vs. scale)
- Enabled by rapid prototyping that is owned and led by the business and enabling tools and technologies (technology teams)
- Led by key business leaders or co-led by business and technology leaders who own the value creation process
- An enabler to the reduction of technical debt
We will deep dive into each of these areas in subsequent posts.