Friday, July 20, 2018

The Five Phases of Digital Exploration

The journey of improving business maturity is more evolutionary than revolutionary.

 Digital exploration is all about assessing, planning, investing, designing, developing, operating, consolidating, integrating, securing, modernizing, optimizing, accelerating, balancing, and orchestrating. Digitalization is a continuous journey with logical but iterative steps for reaching the next stage of business maturity which means high effectiveness, responsiveness, performance, intelligence, innovativeness, and people-centricity.

Assessing: The goal of digital management assessment is to understand “where you are,” and “where you want to be.” It needs to make an assessment both qualitatively and quantitatively. A high-mature organization can quickly and objectively assess all of the consequences of a possible change and devise effective plans, including techniques such as pure healthy check techniques, customers feedback, business partner relationship analysis, etc., and those can be applied to give a holistic picture of what is working or not. The business maturity assessment also includes such as cost estimation - the operation cost, financials, the varying cost of optimizing organizational structure, redundant processes, or technology update. It is important to take a critical look at the organizational strength and weakness, with the goal to improve the overall business performance and unleash its full potential. Make an assessment on business responsiveness as well - how the organization meets the needs of customers and doesn’t waste time doing things doesn’t matter; deliver the high quality products/services/solutions to build the differentiated organizational competency - how the business can do something that competitors cannot imitate so easily, to create differentiated business advantage and strong brand. Through the objective assessment, the quantifiable business inefficiency such as overlapping roles/dysfunctions can also be brought to light for making the improvement.

Planning: As the old saying goes, the plan is nothing, but planning is everything. In today's world, the business context keeps changing constantly, so plans will need to be revised constantly. Strategic planning deals with both horizontal scanning environmental and business monitoring, so the management knows what to look for, and sets guidelines to fix the issues diagnosed at the assessment phase. Digitalization is the large-scale transformative changes. Thus, well planned Change Management with the comprehensive understanding of the business in and out will greatly reduce the pain and practically eliminate the fear of change that typically derails good or even great intentions, and have a better opportunity to achieve expectation for changes. The point is to figure out the “right level” of planning. It is important to get you off the ground and running, also ensure that there is the sufficient time to prepare the stakeholders for the changes on the way.

Experimenting: Digital is the age of innovation, experimenting is one of the most critical steps in innovation. It means trying something that has never done before. In fact, the emergence of potential opportunities for exploring digitalization is likely to follow a nonlinear pattern with the faster speed as the pervasiveness of the organization’s digitalization journey increases. Organizations are in the state of introducing new business concepts, experimenting with something new or exploring the better opportunities to grow the business. It shouldn’t be just some random effort but needs to take a structural approach. More fundamentally, it is about how to apply out-of-the-box thinking, cultivate the risk-taking attitude, develop cross-functional platforms, systems, and procedures for efficient use of natural and human resources, enforce communication and collaboration, with the goals to improve innovation success rate, and build the culture of creativity.

Scaling: To scale up either digital practices or innovation effect, organizations must begin thinking about ways with digital planning to broaden their ecosystems and revenue streams and become more responsive and flexible. The highly scalable digital organizations can expand its influence with the ability to co-create and amplify innovation effort in a dynamic digital ecosystem -treats customers, channel partners, suppliers, and industry ecosystem participants as active agents. The digital era means increasing speed of changes, hyperconnectivity, interdependence, and people-centricity. The challenge for business management is to understand where and how you can improve to scale for getting the biggest effect and improving business competency. it’s also important to develop a series of best/next practice to scale up and amplify digital effects.

Accelerating: Up to the next level, organizations not only need to adapt faster but needs to accelerate, innovate and speed up digital transformation. However, in the dynamic digital business ecosystem where change is significantly speeding up, business leaders couldn’t predict the future with a certain degree of accuracy, it is a tough journey for leading the organization toward to uncharted water or blurred business territories. Technically, some leading organizations separate the exploitation of the existing methods and best practices from the exploration of the new way to do things by leveraging the emerging trends. Strategically, running a business is an iterative problem-solving continuum. When businesses can identify problems really matter, and dig into the root cause, they reach the moment to not only fix individual issues but take a holistic view for speeding up the entire business vehicle. In the dynamic digital business ecosystem where the pace of change is significantly speeding up, businesses just have to improve their strategic responsiveness for moving quickly and adapting to changes promptly.

Digital transformation is a long and thorny journey, and the path for digital transformation can be iterative, evolutionary, revolutionary, or disruptive, it's important to gain an in-depth understanding of the variety of business issues, walk through the different phases of exploration, and lead digital transformation in a structural way.


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