Digital Transformation, in Its True Sense
Digital transformation is imperative for all businesses, from the small to alarge enterprise. And this change, as we already know, is inevitable and evolving day by day. This transformation, in simple terms, is the integration of digital technology into various areas of business and operations resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers. Hence, such transformation is not only a technology transformation but is a combination of multiple changes including people, processes and technology. In the past 2 decades of technology innovations and transformations, every year brought a new evolution in usage of technology be it the discovery of internet, employee workspace changes, evolution of mobile devices, mobile data usage and mobile technologies and evolving data science techniques with AI & cognitive computing.
Over the last few years, technology-driven innovations have led to disruptions that have gone beyond technology, dramatically altering paths and ways that were considered traditional. The impacts are deep, driving cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment often, and get comfortable with changing norm. Often we observe legacy systems being replaced with new systems or enhanced with few digital capabilities is also being referred as transformation. However, true transformation in any organization does not take place merely by replacing the core technology stack or by just introducing some layers in enterprise architecture.
Successful digital transformation is a collaborative effort from cross-functional teams of IT, Business, Operations and HR teams to achieve financial goals, along with enhanced customer experience excellence. It has cascading effectsspanning improvised business and operations processes with the power of digital technology.
Driving Digital Transformation The first step for any transformation program is to set the digital strategy by identifying various opportunities across the organization and at the outset, set the ambition and goals for the transformation program.
Once this digital ambition is clear, go for choosing the right digital solution, technology stack and project execution team. Herd mentality in following digital initiatives will not help as every organization’s need will be different.
When executing a huge digital transformation, it is essential to have a clear execution methodology in stages, and meaningful milestones to be achieved to reap the benefits of the transformation in a quicker way. A carefully chosen digital transformation team should be able to plan the transformation meticulously, control the scope, and maintain procedural discipline in rolling out the initiatives.
People are the most important part of the digital transformation program. Inducing the digital DNA is the biggest challenge that organizations face who are taking initial steps towards this tremendous transformation. Ultimately people need to embrace these technologies to make their life easy. During this phase, resistance to change is one of the key challenges that CXOs deal with. An -Inclusive approach to that helps all departments to understand and appreciate the aim and impact of digital transformation is key to working around any resistance to change.
Legacy Systems, Really Barriers?
IT leaders are most concerned with integrating legacy systems with digital initiatives. Often, legacy systems and infrastructure are seen as immediate barriers to digital transformation. Transformation is not about replacing your legacy systems with something new. It is about how you are making the technology landscape digital compatible to add value to the organization. Organizations dealing with legacy systems will have to review their current technology stack for scalability and future-readiness. This may call for an upgrade in the legacy systems and infrastructure to manage changes required to bring in digital transformation. Considering the complexity of digital transformation program, it is essential to build a strong foundation much before implementing transformation. Technology leaders should be focussing on this aspect.
However, it is incorrect to assume all legacy systems as obsolete (or that will become obsolete soon). Sometimes, a conscious decision of continuing with legacy system can be taken which could be due to the heavy investments already made on these system or may be due to the valuable legacy data which may be too difficult to migrate. However, this does not close the door for digital transformation. Organizations should build surrounding transformational systems to connect the legacy systems with the digital world wherever possible. Investing in these digital connecter systems and adapters might result in better tangible benefits with retained legacy components as compared to complete legacy system replacement.
Engaging with technology and operational teams of legacy applications is a very important aspect of the transformation journey as it allows transformation teams to learn from what is already available and adopted. Involving these teams help in fighting against any resistance to change across the organization. Ensuring that there’s seamless understanding, discussion and dialogue amongst all cross-functional teams sets a strong tone for all transformation initiatives to be aligned to achievement of business objectives and the increasing efficiency level.
Evidently, digital Transformation is a continuous evolving program, the benefits and impact of which are measurable over a period of time. Though measuring ROI at the very beginning of any transformation journey is not practical, there should be defined Key Process Indicators to measure the success of the program at regular intervals and amend it if possible. Organizations must track these with respect to the digital ambition and amend the program at the right time to achieve the digital goals carved out in the initial stages and maintain alignment to the program.