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Digital Transformation

How to succeed at Digital Transformation

One of the most frequent objectives we see from our clients is Digital Transformation.  However, the Harvard Business Review report, 3 Stages of a Successful Digital Transformation found that an average of 87.5% fail to meet their original objectives.

This is a significant failure rate, which we feel is exacerbated by the fact that many organisations see Digital Transformation at an IT or technology-led initiative.  From our perspective, a better definition would be that Digital Transformation involves transforming the business to make best use of the new and evolving technologies that are available in the marketplace.  This view is backed up by the Tech Target report 11 reasons why digital transformations fail, which states that among the reasons for failure is “Lack of broader organizational alignment”.

If we look at our definition again, transforming the business to make best use of the new and evolving technologies that are available in the marketplace, two key things stand out:

  1. Transforming the business – implicit here is the fact the entire business needs to change to adopt and make use of new technologies – the emphasis is on the business using technology to evolve and change, it’s not just IT using technology to change the business
  2. New and evolving – this isn’t a one-off project that ends but a continued evolution of the organisation to make best use of the new technologies available. This doesn’t mean you always need to be at the cutting edge trying out every new feature as soon as it appears – depending on your business model this might be entirely inappropriate.  But it does mean being aware of the technology changes and advancements and assessing how and when to incorporate them into your business.

So, what factors can improve an organisation’s chance of success? The initial definition and analysis phases are key:

Ensure you have clear Goals and Objectives

First off is to understand the strategic business goals, the objectives of the initiative.  Along with the scope of change and the key success factors, this is critical to making sure that success is an option.  The scope of change has to be achievable, so shouldn’t be aiming for the ‘moon on a stick’ – look what you have to work with in terms of people, skills, other initiatives, etc. when defining success criteria.   Also crucial is ensuring the key stakeholders, at a Senior/CxO level, are in place and are seen to give their support and backing to the initiatives – if their expectation is disappointment (a quote from a COO several years ago), then the success criteria needs to be refined.

Look at the Overall Impact – not just the IT Impact

Too often the focus is only on the technology that is changing.  But that is only a part of the story.  Also to be considered are any impacts or changes to the business processes, how this will impact the team and the individuals that perform those processes, what training might be required, whether new working practices are needed, whether the culture of the organisation needs to adapt, if there are any compliance or regulatory impacts, and so on.  Not all of these will be major impacts every time, but they should be considered and, crucially, the business areas impacted need to go on the journey with you. Involving and consulting with them from the outset will give a much greater possibility of successful adoption.

This is where an EA Tool can help.  An EA Tool can map the entire organisation to allow understanding of how the people, functions, processes, IT applications, data, infrastructure, suppliers, and customers interact across the business. With this knowledge freely available across the Transformation Team, it is possible to quickly understand and communicate the scope of the impacts on the wider business and to create Roadmaps and Plans to address and effect change.

Essential is uniquely placed to support organisation in their Digital Transformation initiatives.  It is a low cost, fully featured EA Management Tool that will allow EAs to navigate effortlessly through the complexities of digital transformation, ensuring strategic alignment, operational efficiency and risk mitigation.  See our website for more information contact us here to arrange a demo.

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