Mark Cameron, CEO of Digital Transformation consultancy W3.Digital and a keynote speaker at PASA’s recent Premier Confex, provides eight tips on Digital Transformation.
The Telstra partner and expert in complex digital transformation strategy and delivery discusses why strategy is key, breaking down silos and why having clarity on goals for the transformation is key.
Across all industries, business models are changing. From tourism to fashion and entertainment to e-commerce, business leaders are turning to tech to engage their customers and grow their margins. But there’s an ongoing duality at play.
Despite their desire for digital transformation, many businesses don’t have a clear strategy in place. While they have a rough idea of where they want to go, the roadmaps are rarely defined, and in too many cases, nobody has the capacity or will to drive the project forward.
Without clarity on the goals or messaging, the strategy never gets done—and neither does the transformation.
As organizations grow, they become more complex and siloed—with more competing interests. For CEOs, it’s tempting to avoid disrupting multiple teams by thIT departments are usually focused on keeping the lights on because if “business as usual” fails, they know who’s getting the blame. As a result, they’re often so busy with the task at hand that they don’t have the capacity for big-picture future planning, especially around large digital transformation projects.
So, rather than relying on your IT team to carry the torch, the best option is to support them in the best way possible. This could mean bringing in an experienced external partner—not to replace your IT team, but to support them, advocate for them and get them to communicate with the wider business.
Fostering a strong customer-centric culture across the organization so everyone is thinking about how to provide value to the customer can also take the weight off the technical delivery teams.
1. You don’t know what you don’t know
Some CEOs attempt to drive their digital transformation forward on their own. But they come unstuck when they realize they don’t know how to get the project off the ground.
rowing your digital transformation project to your IT team. But that’s rarely a good idea.
Sadly, it’s all too common for CEOs to get it wrong simply because they’re not asking for help. They feel pressured to make all the decisions themselves, failing to acknowledge that they don’t have all the answers.
Aside from giving CEOs the confidence to make the right tech decisions, commercially, it’s a wise decision, given that 70% of digital transformation projects fail.
2. Where can you find help?
Like it or not, every business is now a technology business. And while this can be a scary thought, there are plenty of people you can turn to.
Of course, seeking advice from your CIO is a great first step—especially if you’re able to navigate the dynamic between them and your other business leaders, as they may have first-hand experience with the nuances and technicalities of your business.
However, their experience leading large-scale digital transformations may be limited—and they will likely see your vision through their own “IT lens,” whereas with a digital transformation, it’s important to see it through a “whole of business” lens as every single person in the organization will be touched by it.
Connecting with peers who have recently undergone similar transformations and gleaning from their experiences is invaluable, and a frank discussion about the pitfalls and lessons learned is priceless. Consulting a specialist digital transformation advisor to educate the board members and executives about technology can also go a long way.
3. Seek tech-agnostic advice
One trap to avoid when seeking help is finding yourself at the mercy of vendors pitching their wares. Often, they’ll offer advice based on the technology they’re selling rather than getting to the root of the problem.
Instead, start by listening to what your customers want. Knowing what solutions will be best for them sets you up for longer-term success and protects you from hearing the viewpoints of the sales folk.
Again, this is where an impartial advisor can help. They’re not influenced by a sales commission, should only have your interests at heart and will protect the client from being influenced down a particular path.
4. Start small to win big
Looking at where you need to get to can be overwhelming. While it’s a cliche, we suggest always starting small so you can change direction and not commit to a big, costly roadmap you can’t get out of.
We see a lot of organizations going to market for nearly the whole digital enchilada, and this rarely works. Everyone’s focused on the big prize rather than committing to the daily wins. Before you know it, one of the big consultancies is on board telling you what you need to do, and you’ve committed to a many-multimillion-dollar project.
By doing things in increments, you can navigate any hurdles that crop up along the way—which, of course, during a three- or four-year transformation, they will. By working in short phases, you can be nimble when the goalposts change.
5. The proof is in the concept
Digital transformation is about business transformation, but many companies fail because they focus on finding the technology and not on the processes they’re trying to transform.
To avoid defeat, consider how your processes need to adapt to get you from your current state to your desired future state—and where technology can help you on that journey.
6. Don’t jump the gun
On a digital transformation project, it’s easy to get carried away by the excitement of what the future holds—and, in doing so, launch into action mode too soon.
Take your time in the early planning stages, getting the big pieces in the right place. Often, when projects launch too soon, they head down the wrong track and have to make costly changes that could easily have been avoided with proper planning.
While it’s great to have an eager team—make sure everyone’s clear on the vision, goals, processes and decisions before you get started.
7. Take simple steps to digital transformation success
By seeking the right advice, planning accordingly, starting small and doing some tech test runs, any CEO can transform their business. It just takes a bit of thought and support from the right people. And don’t forget: Focus on your processes and your people—not the technology.