Set clear KPIs and concrete goals at the start of the exercise
Published on : Friday 25-10-2019
Digitalisation is imperative but enterprises are still struggling with implementation. How can begin the process?
The challenge is not just implementation, rather successful implementation. Two big bottlenecks in successful implementation are observing business impact and stakeholder/operational adoption. For observing business impact, it is important that business divide their digitalisation strategy correctly into smaller activities and milestones so that they can observe quick wins. For increasing stakeholder adoption, digital systems and automation should be correctly augmented with user-friendly interfaces that help people accept change. Hence right planning with a very strong focus on business results is critical and helpful in successful implementation of digital initiatives.
For many organisations, the stumbling block is the silos, which ironically, digitalisation seeks to break. Is this a classic chicken and egg story?
Yes, however it can be addressed with the right planning. For enterprises with muscle power, change-management support from consultants, and top-level buy-in, the silo effect is less. However for other organisations which do not have extensive change-management approach, silos can be a major setback in digitalisation and other important organisation-wide changes. In such cases a strong leadership and policy change is needed. Few execution tactics to address this problem are:
- Tying the digitalisation success to employee KRAs and KPIs
- Changing reward and recognition practice, and
- Launching cross-divisional collaboration and knowledge-share initiatives.
These are some of the ways to demonstrate organisational importance and inculcate seriousness and motivation into employees to adopt cross-divisional adoption of digitalisation.
Is joining one of the digital platforms the only way for an average enterprise?
Not at all. As mentioned earlier, what is really important is right planning, which includes success-focused implementation and change-management practices. There have been many cases where just joining an expensive digital platform has not resulted in the correct adoption or business impact, and on the other hand, companies with a strong intent and right planning have delivered great digitalisation in-house. In fact for average enterprises which are contemplating benefits of digitalisation, it is recommended to initially take smaller steps and automation exercises in-house or with a medium-sized vendor so that the investment risk is low, there is tighter control over exercise, and most importantly, the enterprise gains valuable learning experience. Joining a large digital platform initially can be overwhelming to an average enterprises' bottom-line, employee-adoption, and the number of unknown variables they have to deal with, which ends up limiting enterprises' understanding and participation in the exercise, and can pressure it to demonstrate RoI under tough timelines.
Often, companies get bogged down in discussing technologies rather than outcomes. How should an effective CTO deal with this?
The answer is setting clear KPIs and concrete goals at the start of the exercise, and then an execution which focuses on these goals thoroughly. While technology is what digitalisation implements, CTOs need to maintain and drive a realisation in their team that technology is an enabler to drive a business goal and not an end in itself. Hence teams should focus on the effectiveness that technology is bringing to the process in form of better productivity, enablement, customer service, etc., and doing so often leads to an optimal path of use for the technology.
Also, a strong 'project-management' expertise helps in dealing with such exercises so that a visibility is maintained over cost, schedule, quality, risks, adoption and other important aspects of the digitalisation deliverables. While the CTO adoption of correct practices helps in setting the right team culture, it is also important to maintain a strong visibility over the execution of set KPIs which a strong project management practice helps in.
Finally, is multiplicity of vendors creating conflict in the process?
It does to some extent in any growth industry. Since every vendor claims to be delivering a strong digitalisation experience, few actually possess the capabilities and strategic knowledge for a successful implementation. This does create confusion for companies, and in cases, unsuccessful implementation. What is needed is a careful evaluation of vendors to select the right partner.
With the right selection strategy, multiplicity of vendors can work in favour of the company by giving them choice of solutions to select from for their needs. While most companies look at vendor variables such as number of logos the vendor has served, domain experience, years of existence, credentials, and mostly cost, few other variables are often overlooked but are more important are vendor's 'solution-selling' and strategic knowledge and skills, understanding and alignment with company's vision, and a consultative approach to selecting the best path for achieving company's goals. While the former variables may serve as a shortlisting criteria to select capable and trusted vendors, the latter criteria are more important since they affect the chances of the client succeeding in their end-goals of the project.
Rohit Mathur is the CEO of Exponentia Datalabs. He is a visionary with a goal of leveraging high-tech and data-science to create tangible impact on the traditional industries and practices around us. He has been in the area of technology development, investment banking for healthcare, pharmaceutical and life sciences sectors for over 10 years. With his distinct knowledge and experience, he has taken hold of responsibilities for developing technology / knowledge tie-ups, thought leadership across sectors. Prior to founding Exponentia DataLabs, he was part of investment banking experts at Ernst & Young and Centrum Capital. Rohit also has a rich pedigree with a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Kanpur and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from ISB Hyderabad.