Strategy

Where to start your journey ?

Transforming a company into a digital enterprise is tough. Many companies have had some success, but few have completed this metamorphosis. No comprehensive playbook, or even checklist, exists for executives to follow.

A prudent first step is to learn from others – both inside and outside our industries – and by doing.

Knowledge was a 20th century differentiator. In the 21st Century, knowledge about the past is ubiquitous (Google knows it all), and the future is largely unknowable. Thus the ability to be agile – to sense, decide, and act quickly – will replace strategy as the key driver of organizational success in the future.

The traditional role of strategy is dead, but that does not mean that planning is also obsolete. A set of rolling short-term operational plans can be even worse than locking into a long-term objective. Plans are needed, but they must be constantly assessed and adapted along with changes in the environment. In some cases, they need to be discarded.

The key elements for success today are not solely plans and aspirations, but agility and capabilities. Capabilities (or access to capabilities) are required to compete effectively in a given position, and agility is required to make shifts in that position in response to a changing environment.

In our collective experience setting a digital ambition and strategy starts with confronting three key questions: where is my industry headed, what will my company’s role be in that future, and how can I create a path forward that balances a sense of direction with the ability to adapt along the way?

While we can’t have all the answers to those questions you should to combine “today forward and future back” – every digital transformation must include elements that pursue business opportunities that are relevant today as well as those that put the organisation on the path towards the future. This dual approach leads to a clear, balanced vision, business engagement and a group of executives motivated for the transformation to succeed.

Digital transformations are still business transformations so they must drive real value for the customer and improved outcomes for the business – not merely install technology for technology’s sake. These transformations typically result in shifts in the customer experience, digitization of products and services, the emergence of new economic models, and advances in operations. You should continuously ask the question if this justify the cost of doing business today or can we derive additional value from these improvements ?

All our clients digital journeys require changes to key enablers or the installation of new ones like data and analytics, IT systems, operating model, people and culture. While digital transformations are obviously about technology, technology often turns out to be relatively easy to get right. We were amazed at how much success really depends on organisation and culture, and how difficult those can be to change. Our greatest challenges lie in hiring new talent, enhancing skills of our own, and shifting our culture to become more innovative and adaptable.

Many organisations that currently in charge of managing a digital transformation realise how complicated the journey truly is. Most digital programs start with experimentation – a contained test with dedicated funding, top talent, and strong leadership support. Here, we’ve all seen success. However, it remains a formidable task to then take that experiment and scale it throughout the enterprise. We run into obstacles around securing funding, changing the behaviour of thousands of people (not just 10), and integrating into legacy IT systems, to name a few.

Leadership is critical to the success of the transformation journey – communicating priorities, securing funding and overcoming other obstacles. Leaders from across functions need to act as digital ambassadors. They need to champion the digital effort within their teams and across the company and helping change the mindset of their employees.

Articulate the elements required for your transformation, discuss with some specificity which areas you find most challenging and which seem under control,… Contact us  to discuss further where to start.