Realizing Digital Transformation
How to start your transformation program
Realizing digital transformation (“Making your company thrive and adaptable to change”) starts with changing the organization’s DNA. It is about change management. The professionalization and optimization of the IT landscape and the underlying contracts becomes a derivative and not a goal.
“By 2020, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey. The predators will be the companies able to achieve digital mastery, harnessing digital to create new sources of value for customers. The prey will remain Digital Dinosaurs, unable to evolve their proven business model until it’s too late.” Forrester, March 2015.
The internet is full of stories of companies that are in their digital transformation or encountering all kinds of problems, not knowing how to start, facing legacy application that seem to block the way forward and waiting for a vendor with a solution. In 2015, Forester in their market analyzes and trends indicated that companies by 2020 should all embrace the “digital transformation” phenomenon for the sake of retention. In the meanwhile, unfortunately, there have already been numerous examples where this insight came too late.
Realizing Digital Transformation requires change at all levels
Realizing digital transformation starts with changing the organization’s DNA. It is about change management. The professionalization and optimization of the IT landscape and the underlying contracts has thus become a derivative and not a goal.
All within the organization must feel and understand that something must change. The CIO guides and leads, but it is all the roles within the organization that must change. It has therefore become the responsibility of all senior management to ensure all understand and see this as a joint problem. This requires leadership of top management, but especially the sense of ownership at the operational level. Ownership to shape the changes and include this in the daily work of the entire organization.
How to start?
Starting your digital transformation is no sinecure. Your first steps are all about ensuring that all in the company understand what needs to happen and where the company is heading. The first two steps are:
- Create a shared vision
- Lead the transformation
The shared vision on transformation
The shared vision describes what your company will be and do in the future. Note that the shared vision (for it to be consumed well) must be inspirational and concise. The shared vision covers the answers to the Why, When, Who and What and covers the biggest areas where transformation is required. Note that these areas should be common to the entire organization.
Getting this right requires proficient stakeholder management. Get out there and start understanding the goals and motivations of all. Make sure that all influencers buy-in to the shared vision.
With your shared vision, start your roadshow!
Leading the transformation
With every large program, you’ll need a team of leaders ensuring (and responsible) to start, guide and ensure the success.
The team of leaders should consist of:
- Sponsors – preferably the CEO or equivalent.
- Advocates – Senior leadership roles that act as your program advocate.
- Change Agent – Accountability and Responsibility for executing the program.
Specifically the role of the Change Agent is worth mentioning in this post.
The key characteristics describe a enthusiastic, passionate, senior person (or group of persons) that encounter, connect, are compelling, have an up-to-date knowledge of current technology, are creative and highly committed.
If your company cannot assign the role of Change Agent to someone posessing all of these characteristics, you may need to hire them.
Finally: start with your initiatives and allow your organization to make mistakes. There is a lot to do in a relatively short time, but fortunately it’s not too late.
Next to my personal experience and knowledge, this article references the book ‘Digital Transformation’ by Lindsay Herbert.