Secret to Digital Transformation Success: Speed at Scale

How to streamline digital adoption, learning and implementation by scaling digital transformation efforts.

By Dipti Parmar

By Dipti Parmar October 04 2019

The fast-growing pace of modern businesses, along with increasing demands for organizations in nearly every industry, are placing pressures on enterprises to transform their internal programs and activities through technology.

A Forbes article based on an IDG report revealed that over half of businesses have adopted a digital strategy, and 95% of new start-ups are launching with digital plans already in place. Often, the motivation to implement a digital strategy is incentivized by fear, as failure to adapt will cause companies to fall behind from the competition.

Top Five Digital Technologies Already Implemented

Source: IDG State of Digital Business Transformation 2018

However, reaching true digital adoption is not easy, nor can it be accomplished overnight. This kind of transformation requires monetary investments as well as training, testing and, most importantly, lots of time.

Internal Support

In order for digital transformation to occur at scale throughout an organization, there must first be an internal support system in place that will allow an enterprise to adopt these new tools. The key to a speedy transformation is unity; the entire team must have the same goal and be working together to achieve it.

Failure to align within the organization will only exacerbate the hurdles that stand in the way of success.

According to a survey conducted by Dimension Data, one of the leading reasons that many organizations fail to reach digital adoption is internal issues, such as a lack of leadership and organizational issues such as a lack of physical facilities.

Source: The Digital Workplace Report

Companies first need to establish a clear plan of execution with proper training systems and strategies to get everyone on board.

Sumedh Mehta, CIO of Putnam Investments, understood the levity of internal support when it came time to move toward digital adoption. Mehta placed an emphasis on embracing new work styles, especially among business leaders and partners that lead the way.

Mehta explained how Putnam created an internal “data science center of excellence” that provided resources and assistance throughout the organization during this transitional time. Employees could use this data center to find solutions to issues or receive assistance as needed, which helped the company make the move toward digital transformation at scale.

Understanding the Effect on the Consumer

Digital adoption offers dual-sided benefits. Internally, it can help companies become more organized and efficient through automation. Technology like AI and machine learning can provide leaders with access to deeper insights for informed decision-making, which can boost profits and lower costs.

But, ultimately, digital transformation can (and should) be improving the customer experience. In the modern world, customers have access to virtually every company and product at their fingertips – so the experience that these companies offer through their digital programs are going to be the deciding factor for consumers.

Pizza chains such as Pizza Hut understood the shift towards digitalization in the food sector and transformed its entire business structure in order to accommodate for changes in customer behavior – primarily through digital interfaces.

Source: Engadget

Similarly, Domino’s improved its operational efficiency with a new data platform that analyzed specific markets to integrate consumer data across all platforms. This allowed customers more options when it came to purchasing, specifically through mobile devices.

This data-driven approach provided customers with a more enjoyable experience by putting the consumer first – an approach that allowed Domino’s to increase its worth twenty times from $500 million to $11 billion in just ten years. This is just one reason why the CX should be a key driving force of every decision made during the digital transformation process in order to ensure long-lasting success.

Focus on Speed and Efficiency

Another reason enterprises struggle to maintain the momentum of digital transformation is that they simply try to do too many things at once. While businesses should aspire to reach complete adoption, trying to transform every single process at the same time will only lead to confusion and slow down progression.

Instead, companies should focus on making the changes that will have the greatest impact on the speed and efficiency of internal procedures first. This is what will truly help an organization achieve digital transformation at scale.

There are several ways to establish a speed-focused approach:

  • By utilizing tools that support streamlined processes, such as using hyperconverged infrastructure to centralize storage system and networks to create a more agile data center that can be easily accessed.
  • Cultivating an internal culture that embraces change and is centered around efficiency. This is arguably the most critical component to successful transformation, so leaders need to place a high value on increased efficiency and innovation throughout the organization.
  • Employee training that places emphasis on reskilling and upskilling using personalized tools that allow users to focus on the areas where they need to improve most.

Focusing on Future Influences

Most organizations are motivated to embrace digital progression due to the pressure to stay ahead. However, this focus is on the present – not the future. Leaders must remember to keep the long-term impact in mind when making any changes.

During this transitional time, it is important that decision-makers ask questions like:

  • How will this impact the future of the workplace; is it driving innovation, or is it merely a struggle to keep up with the Joneses?
  • Are the company’s leaders capable of guiding it through this time of transition?
  • Are there new leadership roles that must be filled?

Every technology-based change to organizational processes or operations will have consequences and require further innovation. CIOs and CTOs must consider how these practices will impact the future and what changes should be made now in order to pave the way. Sometimes, these investments might be monumental at the outset but will pay off in the long-run.

For example, implementing a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure for better application lifecycle management is by no means a simple task. However, putting a solution in place gives an organization greater agility and efficiency in IT operations, lower TCO, and multiple layers of security.

Digitalization is not an arms race, and although speed is an important factor when it comes to transformation, failure to consider and plan for implications will lead to destruction.

Championing Digital Change

In today’s world, digital transformation is no longer optional – but the time it takes for an organization to reach this level of innovation is. The C-suite needs to lead from a united front in order to achieve transformation at scale throughout their organization.

“Without the full support of senior management, large-scale changes are a ‘mission: impossible,’” said Maurice van Veghel, CIO of Sligro Food Group, a $3 billion Dutch B2B food service company. "At a certain point, you realize slowly but clearly that IT is becoming the core of your business in a way. We cannot expand with our current platform. We can’t take it to another country and reprogram it in another language.”

By establishing support systems and understanding the implications that digital transformation will have on customers, employees, and the future of the business, organizations can ensure that their efforts will lead them successfully into a fully-digital future.

Dipti Parmar is a contributing writer. She has written for CIO.com, Entrepreneur, CMO.com and Inc. magazine. Follow her on Twitter @dipTparmar.

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