How to Succeed in your Digital Transformation Journey
Published by : Industrial Automation
Digital transformation, when implemented with the right approach and support of all the stakeholders, can turn into a huge success for the organisation, says Adnyesh Dalpati.
Any organisation, irrespective of its size needs constant innovation in their field to stay relevant. Yet still, according to reports of many global research firms the top 3 barriers for innovation lie internal to the organisation, i.e., improper alignment, cultural issues and inability to react or change in mind-set. Lack of budget, lack of vision and risk taking capabilities closely follow the top three. However, digital transformation is not just synonymous to innovations or technology changes. It is a holistic view of the company’s strategic goals tied up with a technology backbone to drive the company operations and processed with a customer centric approach. The stakeholders here are the employees, vendors, partners and investors who play an important role in digital transformation. They should be aligned to the organisation's goals and vision while at the same time keeping customers in the focus. Digital transformation does not mean simply implementing a set of technologies, e.g., companies claiming to be digitally transformed just because they are 100% on cloud. It could be a very good execution but one needs to understand if going 100% on cloud is something that is giving an edge to your organisation or is it really necessary in your domain. The term digital transformation is ever evolving and a set of activities which once could have been termed as ‘digital transformation’ cannot be said so today. For example, going on cloud was on the To-Do lists of companies from 2010 and most of the companies took hybrid or complete approach depending upon their needs. If a company in 2020 is lauding about going on cloud, it is basically just catching up with the others and cannot be called ‘digital transformation’ considering the advancements of technology today. It might be a major transformation from the company’s perspective but from a macro point-of-view, this might be a necessity in order to align with their domain and competitors. This also depends upon the domain, as some domains are quite fast in adoption of the latest technology while others might not be due to various reasons. Other examples like building an online presence through websites or other activities, moving from paper to digital, having apps built or procured for operations and processes have become a norm for every establishment and cannot be termed as a digital transformation strategy or plan.
Digital transformation is also dependent on your stakeholders to a certain extent since these are the executors of the implemented strategy. For example, if your employees are not trained enough to use the systems in place which can increase your process efficiency, this implementation will be counterproductive and could lead to a drop in efficiency hence rendering the digital transformation into a disaster. A decade back, when computers were suddenly introduced in public sector banks at the teller desks and all processes needed to be logged there, the ill trained tellers, who were so set in their old school ways, were unable to gasp the technology leading to long queues at the bank. Similarly, during this Covid-19 crisis, when school teachers were suddenly forced to teach over online webinar portals, they found it very difficult to do so and led to a bitter experience for many students and parents.
There are also a few examples where new apps are being created by government agencies for every process to ‘make the country digital’, but the end user is unable to use them since the UI is not intuitive. This leads to difficulties in the process and sometimes bypasses the very purpose of the app creation. Employees and end users aren’t the only stakeholders. Vendors play an important role in the company’s success since every business is in some way or the other dependent on another business. If there is change in vendor processes or company’s processes without vendors getting aligned to it this could lead to difficulty in managing the vendor itself. This happens in supply-chains where the vendor is provided a portal to update the details of his deliverables through a SaaS based portal. If the vendor is unable to easily use it, this leads to delays and hampers process efficiency.
If we simply take an example of an HRMS system, many employees are unable to fill up details correctly and it becomes a big mess at the end of the year. This reduces employee’s productivity which in turn is paid by company.
Some CxOs have used digital transformation as a tool just to get some media coverage, they use heavy jargon and create breath-taking presentations and diagrams to showcase they have achieved it. Their statements include, but are not limited to, ‘being a digital first organisation’, ‘exploiting challenges of 21st century’, ‘delivering agile customer centric innovations’ and so on. These vision statements are good to hear but are not actionables for the employees and frontline staff. Complicated diagrams and architectures make no sense to them. Also, CxOs are suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out) where they want to blindly copy what the world is doing without understanding the real need for it. This is especially the case in technologies like Edge Computing, Blockchain, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, etc., which have very specific use cases and are niche but CxOs are trying to force fit them in their own organisation under the pretence of digital transformation without understanding whether they really need it or if it makes sense for their businesses.
Instead, every functional manager should be equipped and made responsible to take the managements vision and change processes to the lowest branch possible. For this, the management should have an open dialog with their next in line regarding the alignment of the goals. This cannot happen in a town hall or a single meeting. Managers should be aligned and enabled for training and transformation of their staff. The digital transformation plan is iterative and will change with time. It should not be taken as a big bang approach unless there is no alternative. An iterative systematic plan to implement transformations function by function can help reduce the costs as well as increase confidence with the stakeholders about its success. Also, quick amendments can be done if something is not going right.
Before choosing to go for a digital transformation, the CxOs need to ask two very important questions: ‘Is my current system giving me optimal output?’ and ‘Is my system adopted for change if something new emerges?’ Adoption is very important since technologies are changing at rapid speeds and one needs to adopt to the new environment. As mentioned earlier digital transformation strategies change with time and a strategy at one point of time may not be a transformation for a company later, but rather a de facto standard to survive and sustain in the environment. The current age digital transformation revolves around
data. Data can help us derive insights. Organisations create a data footprint at every touchpoint from buying raw materials, manufacturing goods to delivery and payments and the same goes for other domains. The services where people need to physically move are difficult to capture but there are still smart ways in which this can be done.
All such data needs to be captured and processed. KPIs need to be derived out of it as well as customer feedback is almost necessary; this also includes customer care complaints, issues, etc. The type of issues give a fair idea of what is happening to the product and services. Such information can be used to create new machine learning models which can help predict and create decision making systems. With such detailed understanding of the business, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can play a major role in it and can be used to determine specific pain points and provide solutions to fix it. AI can take away repetitive tasks which are human dependent but cannot be automated due to the dynamic nature of its execution. For example, basic tasks like providing documents, giving status information, issuing new invoices, providing collaterals, etc., can be done by a bot. Nowadays even voice based bots are available, which can understand spoken language and respond to it. Such data will play a pivotal role in forming different digital transformation strategies which can be customer centric and aligned to organisation goals. If digital transformation is linked to RoI with customers backing the project, the chances of attaining success become even more probable.
Coming to a post Covid-19 world, a new kind of digital transformation is seen at various levels, most importantly in the field of sales. Closing a deal without a physical meeting with a client was unheard of but now, most deals are being closed via virtual meetings. This is a huge impact on the way things are moving. Business travel has become from ‘absolutely necessary’ to ‘only when needed’. This is a complete transformation in the mind-sets of the corporates. People don’t need to meet and network anymore, since there are virtual exhibitions where they can interact with exhibitors directly.
So to conclude, when digital transformation is implemented with the right approach and with the support of all the stakeholders involved, it can turn into a huge success for the organisation.
Adnyesh Dalpati is an Enterprise Architect, Technologist and an Internet of Things (IoT) Evangelist with 15+ years of experience working in Investment Banks, Stock Exchanges, Cloud Companies, Media Companies, and Telecom. He has held executive positions in JP Morgan, NSE and Alef Edge (US-based Edge Computing Company) and currently serving as Chief Technology Officer in 4 Marketing Technology.
Adnyesh has developed many low latencies, high performance and scalable solutions using nextgen technologies like Edge Computing, Marketing Technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual & Augmented Reality (AR/VR) and Blockchain Technology Applications catering to domains in Telco, Finance, Logistics, Media and Retail. He also runs two social initiative – Eureka Moment and Storypedia – to motivate youth. An advocate of 4th Industrial Revolution and a member of various technology groups, he also speaks about next-gen technology and its use cases on his BrightTALK channel and conducts seminars, workshops on technology at various forums.