Article

Dig­i­tal

Secrets to a win­ning dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion strategy

January 20, 2021

Our Expert

Max Fer­rin

Country Manager Regional Country Manager

Go dig­i­tal or go bust, declared a World Eco­nom­ic Forum (WEF) arti­cle.

The arti­cle revealed that com­pa­nies that emerged as win­ners dur­ing the COVID-19 lock­downs were the ones that:

  • Had already suc­cess­ful­ly imple­ment­ed dig­i­tal transformation
  • Adopt­ed platform-based busi­ness models
  • Were able to quick­ly adopt digitalisation 

The win­ners found them­selves in a posi­tion to cap­ture mar­ket share while their com­peti­tors scram­bled to over­haul sys­tems and process­es to adapt.

For exam­ple, Netflix’s new sub­scribers surged by 16 mil­lion in April 2020 when lock­downs were imposed, while Amazon’s prof­its tripled in the third quar­ter of 2020. 

Com­pa­nies that were unsuc­cess­ful at going dig­i­tal end­ed up not being there for cus­tomers. Some shut­tered permanently.

More than ever, there is an urgent need for com­pa­nies to ensure that they not only car­ry out dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion (DX) but that the DX deliv­ers sol­id benefits.

DX was already impor­tant and rel­e­vant for organ­i­sa­tions before, but COVID-19 has made DX an imperative.

For many firms in the near future, a suc­cess­ful DX will deter­mine whether they thrive or topple.

Increase the chance of success

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, here’s a sober­ing fact: 70% of DX ini­tia­tives fail.

There are many rea­sons com­pa­nies fail in DX, but one of the most com­mon mis­takes we see is think­ing that a shiny, new dig­i­tal solu­tion will solve all lega­cy problems.

“There is no one sin­gle dig­i­tal solu­tion that is going to fun­da­men­tal­ly change an organ­i­sa­tion,” says Max Fer­rin, Renoir Consulting’s Trans­for­ma­tion Direc­tor. “Instead, ask: How does the DX ini­tia­tive link back to your company’s vision, mis­sion, goals or strate­gies? What is the busi­ness need that is to be addressed?”

There’s a pletho­ra of fac­tors to con­sid­er when it comes to a DX ini­tia­tive suc­cess. Here are some cru­cial ones: 

1. Lever­age dig­i­tal tools for collaboration

When COVID-19 hit the world and social dis­tanc­ing became the norm, like so many com­pa­nies, Renoir Con­sult­ing had to trans­form quick­ly to adapt to the situation. 

“If you had told me before the pan­dem­ic that we’d need to run an end-to-end analy­sis for a finance trans­for­ma­tion project entire­ly remote­ly, with­out ever set­ting foot in the client’s office, I would’ve said that’s mad­ness!” com­ments Ferrin.

“But believe it or not, we did this a few times: 100% remote­ly, 100% off-site.”

It’s a tes­ta­ment to our sol­id prac­tices and process that we were able to lever­age dig­i­tal solu­tions to ensure effec­tive online col­lab­o­ra­tion and deliv­er the out­comes our clients needed.

2. Ensure that process­es are efficient

Imple­ment­ing dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion on inef­fi­cient or bro­ken process­es is like giv­ing a broken-down car a fresh coat of paint and hop­ing that will make it run better.

Yet that is what many com­pa­nies end up doing, some­times adapt­ing a tool to con­form to the company’s bro­ken processes!

It’s impor­tant to ensure that process­es and sys­tems are in good shape before imple­ment­ing DX, oth­er­wise the prob­lems will still exist, and often infor­mal workarounds will arise, lead­ing to addi­tion­al inefficiencies.

3. Be clear about the ben­e­fits from the dig­i­tal transformation

Nat­u­ral­ly, com­pa­nies run a DX ini­tia­tive because they want to achieve a goal, be it to increase income, decrease costs, stream­line the organisation’s resources or expand future capabilities.

How­ev­er, a sur­pris­ing num­ber of com­pa­nies do not clear­ly define the out­comes they’d like to reap from their DX ini­tia­tives. As a result, they have a dif­fi­cult time track­ing progress and gaug­ing success.

When DX out­comes are clear, rel­e­vant mea­sures can be put in place to pro­vide true trans­paren­cy on the com­ple­tion of the pro­gram and the ben­e­fits achieved.

“Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this is almost always one of the key things not done when it comes to dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion,” says Ferrin.

4. Onboard the work­force correctly

Fre­quent­ly we see com­pa­nies spend­ing mil­lions on top-notch dig­i­tal solu­tions, be it data ana­lyt­ics, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence or automa­tion, only to dis­cov­er that the organ­i­sa­tion is not pre­pared to use it or even under­stand it.

“One of the biggest prob­lems we see is that com­pa­nies do not know how to onboard peo­ple to the new tool. They don’t spend enough time on that,” says Ferrin.

“A lot of com­pa­nies believe that change man­age­ment involves send­ing an email on the day the sys­tem goes live with the mes­sage, ‘Hey, we have this new sys­tem and it’s live. Use it!’,” says Ferrin.

There are a lot of activ­i­ties that need to hap­pen before that email is sent out. In fact, before even the DX ini­tia­tive plan­ning is done.

For exam­ple, one of the most impor­tant steps is to define the need for change to the work­force to get buy-in and own­er­ship from them.

“Artic­u­late the expect­ed out­comes. What are the ben­e­fits of imple­ment­ing the ini­tia­tive? Then, cre­ate an engage­ment plan to ensure that every­one that needs to be aware is aware,” says Ferrin.

While it’s true that a dig­i­tal sys­tem can improve the way peo­ple work, it is the peo­ple – the work­force that is expect­ed to use the dig­i­tal tool – that ensure a suc­cess­ful imple­men­ta­tion. Human intel­li­gence is still nec­es­sary in dig­i­tal process design and usage. Human beings are required to spot flaws, iden­ti­fy root caus­es and elim­i­nate problems.

Organ­i­sa­tions need to take a clear, hard look at their work­force. Do they have the nec­es­sary buy-in and resources to adopt the new solution?

“Are you going to scale down your dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion because the peo­ple that you have are not aligned or capa­ble? Or are you going to try to change the peo­ple – requir­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion, upskilling, pos­si­bly new tal­ent and exter­nal help, so that a robust DX pro­gramme will be delivered?”

If these fac­tors are ignored, com­pa­nies may end up with expen­sive dig­i­tal solu­tions that are used improp­er­ly or incon­sis­tent­ly through­out the organ­i­sa­tion, with any antic­i­pat­ed ROI left unrealised.

Con­clu­sion

There’s not one sin­gle suc­cess fac­tor when it comes to DX.

“Dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion for one com­pa­ny can mean some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent in anoth­er. There’s no-one-size-solution that fits all – that’s not how it works in real­i­ty,” says Ferrin.

This is because every com­pa­ny is dif­fer­ent. They have dif­fer­ent needs, goals, chal­lenges, and advantages.

Suc­cess­ful DX lies not in imple­ment­ing the lat­est, trendy dig­i­tal solu­tion but to ensure that the DX links to ver­i­fi­able ben­e­fits that will align with the company’s vision, needs and goals.

Down­load our white paper, Pow­er­ing Suc­cess­ful Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion, and learn how your organ­i­sa­tion can imple­ment dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion successfully. 

Our Expert

Max Fer­rin

Country Manager Regional Country Manager

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