Accelerated pace of technological disruption has forced organizations to change. It has triggered leaders to think of the ways they must adopt to survive in these challenging times.
Organizations are confronting this scenario by embracing digital technologies. Traditionally, the focus of the organizations in these Transformation initiatives has remained on speed of change. To get the most out of their initiatives, they are making drastic changes, to include:
- Creating Agile Teams
- Introducing Mobile Apps
- Building Big Data and Analytics capabilities
- Experimenting with creative Digital Business Models.
Digital Transformation programs are launched with huge fanfare, see success early on, but fail to keep the momentum going. The issues that plague the sustainability of these initiatives are typically:
- Aging Technology Infrastructure
- Incompatible Operating Models
- Archaic ways of doing business
- Change-agnostic culture.
Drivers of change for the Digital Leadership have changed significantly over the years. There is an increased focus on building scale when executing Digital Transformation. Leaders have realized that quick Decision Making is not the only element required for successful Transformation. To achieve its full potential, they need to create differentiated offerings and scale the most viable initiatives across the organization to create value.
Traditional organizations have started following the footsteps of digital disrupters like Amazon and Tesla. They are implementing new digital services and adjusting their operations. However, typical hurdles—e.g., old enterprise systems, bureaucratic red tape, delayed decision making, and segregation between IT and business units—make them slip back into the outdated ways of doing things.
Sustainable Digital Transformation involves building not only the technology infrastructure but also revisiting the operating model. Successful Digital Transformations essentially involve embracing 4 key strategies to enable an ecosystem that encourages change to stick as well as scale:
- Create a strong Digital Foundation
- Integrate and consolidate the Digital Ecosystem
- Front-end to back-end approach
- Create a new Business Model
Let’s delve deeper into these strategies.
Create a Strong Digital Foundation
Manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries are the major sectors that employ this strategy. The typical state of affairs in organizations implementing this strategy is such that they are in need of developing new digital capabilities from scratch to tackle nimble rivals who are churning out novel value propositions using digital tech. These companies are burdened by dated tech infrastructure, sluggish decision making, and dated business models. The risk of disruption to these businesses is growing but it hasn’t challenged them to transform drastically.
To them, building a digital foundation warrants acquiring novel foundational capabilities. Their approach should be to start implementing and managing small changes one step at a time. For instance, building a smart technology architecture with advanced Big Data, Analytics, and predictive modeling capabilities. This should be followed by testing prototypes of the new model to prove their worth before implementing a full-blown execution.
Integrate and Consolidate the Digital Ecosystem
This strategy has gained traction most in organizations from the Consumer Products industry. These organizations are typically marred by scores of fragmented IT systems running in different parts of the organization. There is a general inability to prioritize the most viable projects and scale them. The need to reform and rapid deployment of Digital Infrastructure is critical for survival.
The approach to Digital Transformation in these organization should be to establish a central management position to manage the initiative and streamline dispersed technology landscape. This entails revising the technology infrastructure and operating model, deploying a unified IT platform for gathering and storing customer data, establishing a common data repository accessible to all units to recognize customers’ needs, and creating a culture that encourages innovation, acts on creative ideas, and refines them through experimentation and advanced tools.
Interested in learning more about the other strategies to enable Digital Transformation? You can download an editable PowerPoint on Sustainable Digital Transformation here on the Flevy documents marketplace.
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Gordon Moore, Intel co-founder, observed that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years. He projected that this rate of growth would continue for at least another decade.
His observation, termed the “Moore’s Law,” has correctly predicted the pace of innovation for several decades and guided strategic planning and research and development in the semiconductor industry. Moore’s law is based on observation and projection of historical trends.
In 2015, Gordon Moore foresaw that the rate of progress would reach saturation. In fact, semiconductor advancement has declined industry-wide since 2010, much lower than the pace predicted by Moore’s law. The doubling time and semi-conductor performance has changed, but it has not impacted the nature of the law much.
Although many people predict the demise of Moore’s law, exponential growth in computing power persists with the emergence of innovative technologies. Moore’s law is only part of the equation for effective Digital Transformation—there are other contributing factors including the role of leadership.
First Law of Digital Transformation
George Westerman—a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management—proposes a new law, which states that, “Technology changes quickly, but organizations change much more slowly.” The law known as the “First Law of Digital Transformation” or “George’s Law” is a pretty straightforward observation, but is often ignored by the senior leadership. This is why Digital Transformation is considered more of a leadership—than technical—issue.
Just announcing an organization-wide Transformation program does not change the enterprise. According to George’s Law, successful Digital Transformation hinges on the abilities of senior leadership to effectively manage the so many contrasting mindsets of its workforce, identify and take care of the idiosyncrasies associated with these mindsets, interpret their desires, and focus attention on encouraging people to change.
Above all, the leadership should focus on converting Digital Transformation from a project to a critical capability. This can be done by shifting emphasis from making a limited investment to establishing a sustainable culture of Digital Innovation Factory that concentrates on 3 core elements:
- Provide People with a Clear and Compelling Vision
- Invest in Upgrading or Replacing Legacy Technology Infrastructure
- Change the Way the Organization Collaborates
Let’s now discuss the first 2 elements of the First Law of Digital Transformation.
Provide People with a Clear and Compelling Vision
Without a clear and compelling transformative vision, organizations cannot gather people to support the change agenda. People can be either change resisters, bystanders, or change enablers. However, most people typically tend to like maintaining the status quo, ignore change, or choose to openly or covertly engage in a battle against it.
For the employees to embrace change, leadership needs to make them understand what’s in it for them during the transition and the future organizational state. This necessitates the leaders to develop and share a compelling vision to help the people understand the rationale for change, make people visualize the positive outcomes they can achieve through Transformation, and what they can do to enable change. A compelling vision even urges the people to recommend methods to turn the vision into reality.
Invest in Upgrading or Replacing Legacy Technology Infrastructure
Problems and shortcomings in the legacy platforms is an important area to focus on during Digital Transformation. The legacy technology infrastructure, outdated systems, unorganized processes, and messy data are the main reasons for organizational lethargy. These issues hinder the availability of a unified view of the customer, implementing data analytics, and add to significant costs in the way of executing Digital Transformation.
Successful Digital Innovation necessitates the organizations to invest in streamlining the legacy systems and setting up new technology platforms that are able to enable digital and link the legacy systems. Fixing legacy platforms engenders leaner and faster business processes and helps in maintaining a steady momentum of Innovation.
Interested in learning more about the First Law of Digital Transformation? You can download an editable PowerPoint on First Law of Digital Transformation here on the Flevy documents marketplace.