Monday, April 13, 2015

Going Digital Systematically

Going digital not only means to convert traditional business processes, more about the digital shift of soft factors such as the mindset, leadership, and culture.  

Going digital is a no-brainer. If so, then why are so many companies still hesitant to go radical digital? Why are there so many companies not taking advantage of customer-facing opportunities to digitize interactions with digital technologies?

Even during the journey, shall you continuous check: Are you doing the right things? Are you doing them the right way? Are you doing them well? Are you achieving the desired outcomes? Are you transforming to be ready for the future? Are you shaping the good digital strategy about the future and positioning appropriately for your place within it? Do you have enough resources to implement the digital strategy? Are the assumptions and risks understood and manageable?

A digital strategy is a useful "qualifier" as a point of business competency and differentiation: It qualifies the areas of business you're going to review, the area of subject expertise, and the types of solutions you're going to recommend. Decisions impact such things as key strategies, mission, vision, brand, and performance targets, they are clearly aligned with value creation, also, they have to come from clarity about internal and external environments and the dynamics that affect them - the truth. Then and only then can organizations reach a clear, uncluttered place from which they can implement the digital strategy more effectively.

Going digital in one's business implies first going digital internally and culturally: For that, processes need to be not just online but internally socially visible. It’s what triggers employees to start adopting transparency and social decision making while being evaluated by peers in real-time. When one extends that to the first line of customers, the impact is manifold. Disruptions such as these are critical to induct nonsocial employees into a new paradigm. Constantly improve the business and seeing change as an opportunity while keeping a holistic overview of the business are the core messages of the text. That applies to "going digital," of course, but it is nothing particular to it. It applies just the same to using prestressed concrete as opposed to brick and mortar, as an example. So a company that is not reaping the benefits of the digital age has a fundamental problem: Failure to adapt and innovate. "Going digital" won't help against that, a general change of attitude is required. Otherwise, the company will sooner or later be history.

Going digital has better chance to harness innovation: When innovating to create new value, position a brand, align people inside an organization or differentiate and position products or services in diverse markets, the closer we can get a clear and uncompromised place void of irrelevant complexity, analogy, and noise, the greater businesses’ ability to execute with a predictive pathway, mitigate risk, increase go-to-market confidence, and support more effective spend of human and economic resources. If you're not innovating from a place of clarity, you can't effectively deliver value and answer questions like - Why does the world need this? What's going to change in an individual or a business if they have this? There has to be the substance behind the answers and there has to be substance and truth behind the input that leads to further discovery.

Digital is also the age of “Big Data”: Truth comes from data void of analogy, bias, irrelevant noise, and complexity, resulting in a clear uncompromised focus on what’s most important. The vision is an output. The importance of data and its analysis leads to the critical elements of knowledge, clarity, and insight. What is the relevant noise?  It's the noise that matters, informs you, creates greater clarity and leads you to something better. It's the reality tied to place and time. Given that all organizations operate through and for people, and that people are emotional, not always rational. Just as quickly as patterns are established, the environment can change dramatically, don't forget that for trends or patterns to develop, the passing of time is required, and in the interim, it isn't apparent that old truths no longer hold. The idea that truth can result from analysis and lead to a clear and uncompromised focus is perhaps a little Utopian. Digital means flow, but it will not automatically flow from one to the next person, it is overly redundant in data capture, and cannot be configured to business rules to enable automatic decisions or alerts. Digital leaders have to understand what’s required and how as a high-level basis for going digital.

A scorecard will help to measure performance and impact: Digital strategy is nothing unless it’s implemented effectively. In terms of the full gamut of strategic management (analysis, options development, trade-offs, and other choices, successful implementation, feedback, and adjustment) a balanced scorecard (or any sort of multivariate measurement) is necessary but a long way from being sufficient. It can signal performance expectations, a scoreboard will help to measure performance and impact, but a range of other tools and capabilities are required if the answers to the following strategy-related questions are to be sensibly answered and if a strategic plan is to be properly developed and implemented. Balanced scorecards also tend to be more successful in simple cookie-cutter commercial enterprises where there are a number of same or similar functions that share common metrics and targets, but they have much less utility in terms of real strategy when it comes to complex non-commercial organizations.

Digital transformation is a long journey. It does take the hard digital process in converting many paper documents into a digital format which creates the opportunity to streamline operations through greater efficiency and effectiveness; or digitize every touchpoint to improve customer service, but also involve soft factors such as digital leadership and culture shift, it has to be managed in a systematic way.


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