Digital transformation has occurred at an exponential pace in recent years. Some borne out of necessity, due to the pandemic, and some out of a natural determination for survival in the face of new competition. But do we really understand digital transformation? And how can we ensure its success? Stephen France, from leading Change Management firm Marbral Advisory, explains all.
Many organisations are unclear what digital transformation means. Because it may look different to every company, it can be difficult to find a definition that applies to all. As a general rule, digital transformation can be defined as the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, resulting in fundamental changes to how a business operates and how they deliver value to their customers.
Typically, the digital transformation journey starts with a problem statement, an opportunity, or a goal. For example, in a commercial organisation the problem may be declining sales figures as competitors move their sales online. In the public sector, for example, organisations may have a goal to enhance customer experience by moving services online, avoiding the need for customers to attend in person and wait to be served.
Improve Efficiency & Avoid Wasted Effort
There are many reasons an organisation will embark on a digital transformation process, but it is increasingly likely that it is a question of survival in the face of competition. A strategic goal might be to reduce costs and improve overall efficiency by implementing a new IT system. There is no value in systemising poor and inefficient processes, so a key step in the transformation process is to map out the current, or ‘as-is’, processes to rid them of duplication or wasted effort. Having done so, the new or ‘to-be’ processes can be designed. If the organisation is planning to develop a totally new solution, the ‘to-be’ processes can be used to define the requirements. Alternatively, if the intention is to purchase an existing, off-the-shelf solution, the ‘to-be’ processes may have to be wrapped around the capabilities of the proposed solution.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everything and an organisation’s ability to adapt quickly to an ever-changing situation has become critical. Businesses dependant on sales have had to shift online. Even organisations that had an online presence have had to adapt to a world of empty offices and a workforce based at home. Because the transition was rapid, some organisations found that their infrastructure was unable to cope with the sudden, massive increase in remote workers, and their systems slowed or failed. Moreover, the sudden demand for laptops and other devices to support homeworkers led to supply shortages.
Organisations that had effective and tested disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place were better able to cope with the rapid change in circumstances. This period of disruption has reminded us that a digital transformation project is not just about the implementation of new systems, it is also about giving consideration to keeping those systems running, or scaling up, when the unexpected occurs.
Post-COVID, as workers have become used to new ways of working, these have become the new norm. Fast and reliable access to the Internet in Jersey has proven to be a critical commodity and the telecom providers were able to adapt service levels when traffic volumes hit new peaks. Now customers also have different expectations, and many organisations will have to continue to adapt to meet those desires, or risk losing trade.
The Only Constant is Change
Any transformation process requires change, and this will need to be carefully planned and managed from the outset, not as an afterthought. Irrespective of the effort that is put into new products, systems, and services, if an organisation has poor leadership and fails to adopt a change culture, the project is likely to fail. Some staff may feel threatened by the implementation of new systems and new ways of working and resist the change process. With effective change management, staff can learn to embrace the change process, learn new skills, and adopt new ways of working, becoming change champions in the process and thereby helping to ensure the success of the transformation project.
Marbral Advisory helps companies achieve their business goals, unlock significant gains, and meet their full potential. Services include strategic advisory, change management, project management, digital transformation, training, and engagement programmes. To find out more, contact the team: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website: www.marbraladvisory.com