Digital Transformation: The six drivers for execution

Developing a Digital Transformation strategy and its implementation, or execution, has gained popularity in the past several years. Recent studies conclude that approximately 76.6% of surveyed companies describe Digital Transformation as a competitive advantage. In addition, over 40% of those companies have dedicated teams or functions driving this transformation within organizations. However, over half report that culture is still a big hurdle. If your organization has not considered a Digital Transformation strategy already, it should. 

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Digital Transformation

In 2016, over 84% of Digital Transformations have failed. Even though this percentage might have reduced over the past couple of years, a lot of enterprises still struggle. The devil is in the details of execution. There are a lot of services available in the market focused on helping you format and write a Digital Transformation plan. However, executing the plan is a whole other beast. Finding qualified partners ready to dive into the trenches with you are hard to find.

To date, there has been a lot of discussion on the lack of success in executing Digital Transformation. This blog presents six ways to solve those issues.

1. Digital Leadership

Why is leadership so important? 
Lack of leadership involvement and dedication is something experienced a lot in practice. This leads to a project or program that marginally impacts the organization or even costs more than it brings. Only involving oneself when things go sideways is a recipe for failure. A key principle to remember is that Digital Transformation is changing the way people work, and change can be scary.

What to do then? 
Leaders don’t have to be there every day. However, they must be present for the important project events. The agile methodology helps to define these events. Secondly, lead by example. Leaders should show that they care by linking their success to the success of the overall digital team. Leaders must be ready to take organizational impediments, such as lack of business availability, out of the way. Finally, reassuring digital teams that even though change is scary, they are supported with the resources of the enterprise to help them.

2. Digital Champion

What is a Digital Champion? 
A Digital Champion is a single individual that drives the parts or whole of a larger Digital Transformation strategy. These individuals, often designated as a Digital Champion, will take the time to coach and mentor each initiative within an organization. Further, these individuals possess the persona necessary to change an enterprise and drive digital programs.

The solution to this problem is the Digital Champion 
The right individual will play a key role in realizing the organizational vision. Identifying and, more importantly, empowering the Digital Champion to execute the enterprise’s Digital Transformation vision. Empowering these individuals is of paramount importance, without a proper mandate they will be ineffective. A well-motivated champion can be a differentiating asset.

3. Value Definition

Why define value? 
This is THE question that must be asked. Surprisingly, many Digital Transformation projects are initiated without a clear value definition. With no understanding of the value, it is next to impossible to measure success.

How to define value? 
Value can be defined across a few categories, including process optimization, increased revenue and cost reduction. Understanding the positioning of the project within the enterprise will help determine its priority. Secondly, assigning a monetary valuation will help to prioritize an organizational project portfolio. Thoughtful consideration of each project valuation is critical to individual projects and overall Digital Transformation success.  

4. Effective Partner Ecosystem

Is a partner necessary? 

This is a fair question, but consider this. Does a homeowner pour the foundation for their own home? Or do people perform their own medical procedures? The same can be said of engaging with a technology partner. There is an ever-increasing supply of new technologies and nobody should presume to know them all.

What qualifications should a partner possess? 

The right partner will add a specific needed capability to the enterprise. Engaging a partner will add knowledge to the enterprise and/or assess its intrinsic knowledge. Trust, like in any relationship, is critical. Trust can be achieved by aligning with a partner that matches the enterprise’s culture and values. 

5. Unifying Platform

A unifying platform? 

These are platforms that address a specific problem: the business demand and IT capacity issue, reducing (unifying) a big application portfolio. Over the past decade, a number of initiatives, including Service Oriented Architecture or the newer microservice architecture, have tried to address this. These are solid principles and should definitely be applied. However, there is an innovative, enterprise grade technology available to the Digital Transformation market… Low-code!

Low-code? 

Low-code combines the speed of development with easy to integrate principles. In short, it is an ideal way to quickly modernize and build new functionality while at the same time integrating with existing systems. The market leading low-code platform of Mendix (acquired by Siemens) is perfectly equipped to enable enterprises to successfully achieve Digital Transformation.

6. Start Small, Think Big

What is the significance of thinking big? 
Middle and even senior management can sometimes have a hyper focus in the short term. If it does not change anything tomorrow, then it should not be taken on. This is a bit of an exaggeration, however short-term thinking in organizations should not come as a surprise. Organizations may choose to do innovation or brainstorm sessions because they realize this is happening. Although this is a good idea, where to go from that point?

Start small 
It is difficult to decouple short-term thinking from long-term vision. Being able to have a vision, but still execute small projects towards this goal is paramount. In addition, the flexibility to take new insights into account is a prerequisite for success.

There is no magic bullet, but addressing these points from the start will drastically increase the opportunity for success. Companies with a well-grounded digital strategy are 23 times more likely to increase their customer portfolio and 19 times more likely to improve ROI.

This blog was also featured on the Siemens blog page.

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October 22, 2020
Ramli Somers

Ramli has spent almost two decades building strong and successful digital practices for clients. For the past years, he has been focusing on enabling “low-code” transformation in top tier enterprises.