Digital Transformation: Establishing the course of direction more important than the speed of getting there

May 18, 2018

 

There are numerous examples of organisations that have disrupted their sectors, for example, Spotify and Netflix. It’s all about understanding the needs of the market in order to develop the right experience. You don't need masses of experience to do it or even a vast array of products to cause disruption, just have an idea and create it. 

 

For the last few years, we have seen high levels of competition from an array of organisations racing to begin their digital transformation journeys. The perpetual process of disruption originated by startups, born in cloud and the younger 'digital age' companies have developed anxiety and urgency in large organisations. These organisations in their efforts to stay relevant, have made massive amounts of finance available and created digital leadership roles. Their primary purpose of embracing and developing new technologies, just so they have checked the digital “box”.

 

The majority of these organisations have approached their digital journey through a technology led outlook. Huge investments were made in the newest technologies by industry leading firms over the last two to three years. These projects stirred up a lot of excitement as well. Although, for the most part these investments are yet to yield the desired returns.

 

So why has this been the case? 

 

The technological revolution has brought about the same productivity, cost benefits and advantages as the digital age promised. However, during the technological revolution 'man' followed the computer, the processes were created in a manner that was required by software and hardware. Albeit, today technology is far more intuitive, centred around user experience. A human-centric approach to solving problems, which is the fundamental shift we see today.

 

Organisations need to take stock and reflect on this transformation thoughtfully before beginning their digital or strategic business transformation journey. It is vital to recognise that one doesn’t need lot's of experience or even its own products to cause disruption – consider Spotify and Netflix. It’s all about recognising the needs of the user and building the right experience.

 

Establishing the course of direction for the journey of digital transformation is a necessity over the speed of getting to a destination. It is often thought that with digital it will be a fast process, but with no real direction set, or understanding of the problems it is a waste of time, effort and resources. 

 

Identify the issue, before an organisation does start, it is important to realise that it is stepping into the unknown, something that hasn't been created or thought of before. It is crucial that the company establishes the problem. What problem is going to be solved and who will benefit; customer, employee, suppliers or other stakeholders? Establishing the real problem is the key to a successful digital transformation. Without this, developing transformations are wasted.

Do your research: Understanding your target market is another key element. We often hear from companies they understand their customers. If this were true, more digital transformation processes would yield results. As it stands, nearly 70% of these transformations fail according to a recent PwC study.  This is due to most transformations introduce complexity without truly understanding the customer/users' needs. They expect people to change and adapt.

 

Businesses need to invest in gaining a better understanding of their target audience – this is where design research comes into play. Ethnography and secondary research tools are a design thinker’s artillery in understanding the end customers – without which the transformation journey is doomed.

 

Use focus groups to gain insights: Solutions must be designed by taking different ideas and approaches and bringing them together. It’s not enough to include only technology minds while charting the digital transformation journey. Companies have to adopt a workshop-led approach to bring together all divisions within the organisation and blend the knowledge to transform, imagination to create and the trust to deliver.

 

An open approach that transcends borders: Today barriers between diverse industries are fading rapidly. Native digital companies are quickly adjusting and putting together an ecosystem that addresses all customer needs.  While sectors are known to merge, these developments were traditionally slow. The digital revolution driven by big data, Artificial Intelligence and similar technological advances have caused this restructuring to happen quicker than anticipated. Organisations need to take into account this shift while planning their digital transformation journey.

 


The most common example is smartphones. Which sector does it belong to? Steve Jobs and Apple started a journey by integrating music, communications and telephony. Today apps on our phones are developed across multiple sectors; news, travel, photography, banking, and so on. 

 

Unlike the age of technology revolution, we are today living in an age of digital transformation. Digital transformation is a lot more than just new age technologies. It is the seamless integration of business, experience and technology with customer/ user experience at its heart. An organisation that understands, embraces and implements this will set their digital transformation programs on a path to success

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