The Future of Digital Transformation Depends On This One Thing
To embrace the future of digital transformation, you need organizational buy-in
Digital transformation is here to stay. Embrace it, and you will be rewarded with faster revenue growth, customer loyalty, and a competitive edge in the marketplace. The technology to make digital transformation happen is here, too—it’s more accessible, easier to integrate, and more affordable than ever before. Finding the right technologies from a myriad of options is what drives innovation. Doing so with organizational buy-in is the key to embracing the future of digital transformation.
Digital transformation should be at the forefront of every organization’s mind. In recent years, digital transformation has gone from buzzword to critical strategic priority, and its importance will continue to increase in the future. McKinsey outlines a set of factors that might improve the chances of a transformation succeeding, which fall into these five categories:
- Digital-savvy leadership
- Creating the workforce of the future
- Facilitating new ways of working
- Upgrading tools the workforce uses daily
- Communication, both traditional and digital
The reality is digital transformation does not happen overnight, and working towards digital transformation success requires an agile approach that incorporates these 5 factors.
While this may seem daunting, the good news is most organizations are already taking steps towards transformation because the environments around them are providing the context to do so. The Covid-19 pandemic and a subsequent uptick of remote work have driven many of these transformations, as the demand for virtual cloud software has increased. Let’s look at the future of digital transformation, examining global organizations’ digital transformation processes.
Why Stakeholder Buy-In Is Critical For Your Digital Transformation Future
‘‘Never underestimate the buy-in you need from the end-user and the leaders in an organization’’-
Getting consensus from key stakeholders will help the company make impactful decisions. Digital transformation is about finding the right technology to help the business innovate. Engaging the right stakeholders to identify and prioritize the needs of the business to find the right tech is important. Finding and procuring new technology is not the problem. The problem is solving your business’s challenges as part of a holistic strategy and doing so with the right input from the right people.
Successful digital transformations happen when the organization is involved and engaged in the journey. Solutions to common business problems are identified and solved with plenty of input and buy-in from the end-users. Digital transformation initiatives and projects should involve key stakeholders and be a well-thought-out strategy with a clear business objective to solve and a clear path to success. To achieve this, you need to consider who the stakeholders are careful. They could be employees, consultants, leadership, SMEs, customers, or suppliers. They are the beneficiaries, direct and indirect users, board members, and decision-makers impacted by the strategies and software introduced. Make a list of the key stakeholders and how you will avoid diluting the most critical voices.
Leaders must facilitate an agile, collaborative process. Collaboration with stakeholders to deeply understand the needs of the business is necessary to identify solutions that drive digital transformation:
- What are you trying to achieve?
- What does success look like?
- What challenges are you trying to solve?
- What is driving the change?
Let’s look at how the major consulting firms manage their digital transformation and people processes. Accenture, Deloitte, and McKinsey collectively have over half a million employees and have been at the forefront of digital transformation from research and execution perspectives. They also have collectively harnessed the power of digital transformation to stay at the forefront of their industries.
First up, Accenture clarifies that successful digital transformation requires important leaders in the organization to support and understand the processes of digitally transforming their organization.
Deloitte sets out 4 key pillars, which include ‘’engage and enable people’’ - which translate to transition the workforce to the new digital organization, align performance metrics, and plan to sustain.
Finally, McKinsey emphasizes having the right, digital-savvy leaders in place – leaders of individual initiatives and leaders of the program-management or transformation office, and an emphasis on redefining individuals’ roles and responsibilities. Hence, they align with the transformation’s goals. All three organizations hold digital transformation and people processes as inextricably linked. This perspective echoes our sentiments at Olive: the right input from the right people will guide you to the right solutions. That is the path to successful digital transformation.
Digital Transformation Processes
“Agile digital transformation is based on evidence that successful digital transformations occur through continuous innovation – by radically changing business models and capabilities in measured steps, over time, and as resources allow. This empowers organizations to launch, learn, and re-launch digital initiatives, swiftly reacting to changing market conditions and customer needs.”
As we have said before in other articles, digital transformation is a process that does not happen overnight. At Olive, we favour an agile approach to transformation. Agile processes are becoming increasingly popular in the digital transformation realm.
The Project Management Institute outlines an agile approach to project management that accepts ambiguity and incorporates discovery and learning throughout the project life cycle. An agile process promotes incremental delivery rather than an “all at once” approach - allowing for frequent inspection and adaptation, teamwork, self-organization, and accountability. This approach is applied to identifying technologies to drive digital transformation. It gives teams a clear set of best practices that continuously align selecting and evaluating software solutions with ever-changing company needs and goals. Digital transformation enables organizations to future-proof their organization and keep up with rapidly changing factors: external competitors, industry trends, and new technologies. With this in mind, an agile approach to digital transformation will ensure that teams can swiftly adapt and deliver value - the key to innovation and thriving in an increasingly digital environment. Here’s what that looks like:
The benefits of an agile approach to digital transformation
Agility provides flexibility. Traditionally, new business projects can be executed via a strictly rigid approach and little adaptability - particularly at the beginning of the project. Conversely, an agile approach anticipates and accepts change and acts accordingly. This more realistic approach allows teams to test and switch in accordance with changes.
2. Business Value Comes First
Because the agile process starts with the ‘why,’ enabling business values to come first, aligning the entire approach to respond to stakeholder and business needs. It promotes incremental delivery rather than an “all at once” approach - allowing for frequent inspection and adaptation, teamwork, self-organization, and accountability. This allows for teams to continually focus their attention on the ‘’why’’ - which translates to a values-driven solution; agility is all about having a North Star to aim towards, but facilitating changes happening along the way.
This approach is applied to selecting software solutions to drive digital transformation. It gives teams a clear set of best practices that continuously align selecting and evaluating software solutions with the business values.
3. Continuous Improvement
An agile digital transformation process promotes disciplined project management that encourages consistent inspection and adaptation, a leadership philosophy that encourages teamwork, self-organization, and accountability. All of these factors contribute to continuous improvement.
4. Frequent Value Delivered
When teams work in bursts of short, productive sprints, project milestones and goals are reached incrementally, the safest and most effective method of reaching the desired state of transformation. Rushing can have catastrophic consequences, so instead, begin with smaller, agile change efforts that are still impactful.
5. Cost Control
A more agile software selection process allows you to find the exact solution that the company needs to transform digitally. Cost control happens when companies take the time to find the right option, which will inevitably save them from blowing excess funds. The traditional waterfall process of software selection is lengthy, and costs can incur over the long period of its implementation. On the flip side, doing the same project in an agile way saves the company money due to running a shorter software selection process. Additionally, buying the right solution the first time around can save companies millions of dollars in opportunity costs and prevent companies from selecting the wrong solution that brings unexpected high expenses in workarounds and employee training, etc.
6. Risk Reduction
An agile approach to software selection massively decreases any risk factors associated with digital transformation and enables projects to practically eliminate the chance of failure. Frequent updates, consistent communication, and collaborative feedback ensure that every issue is caught and addressed.
8. Complete Transparency
Regular collaboration organically elicits a higher degree of engagement and transparency. With its regular collaboration, communication, and updates between multiple teams, the agile digital transformation process allows for greater transparency across the business. Daily updates and progress charts offer a tangible solution to track progress and manage expectations across the board.
9. Implementation Success
An agile digital transformation process that includes key stakeholder perspectives leads to higher implementation rates down the line because optimization starts from the get-go. This allows issues that may hinder implementation to naturally be spotted and addressed quickly.
10. Higher Team Morale Means Change Management is Easier and User Adoption Higher
Including key stakeholders and departments from the get-go increases team morale and reduces your change management costs. When teams are engaged and feel bought into the process from an early stage, they are more invested in the project's success, understand the why behind the transformation, and are more likely to adopt the solution. Change or innovation simply cannot occur without people at the project's core. The agile method works to create a high-performing team because it promotes transparency, self-management, creativity, time to reflect, regular knowledge sharing, and continuous learning. Moreover, teams that follow the agile approach increase collaboration foster new and innovative ideas.
Finding the Right Technologies Drives Digital Transformation
When it comes to sourcing solutions that drive digital transformation, many organizations get stuck in a rut of running waterfall software selection processes that spend hours on documentation, meetings, and repetitive spreadsheet tasks. The approach works, but it takes so long that it often leads to stakeholder burnout. Companies that do have a desire to find the right solution may run this waterfall approach to software selection. This digital transformation journey starts at the organizational level (top-down). Everyone agrees to the organization's strategic direction and then determines as a leadership team what work needs to be done to achieve the set objectives, prioritizing the activities that will deliver the largest measurable results towards those objectives.
The process requires documentation, stakeholder engagement, and approvals throughout to ensure alignment across the organization and does usually lead to the right solution being identified. However, this approach has its risks;
- Time - There is immediate pain in the business and known benefits of change which always puts a sense of urgency to these initiatives.
- Resource Intensive - Organizations will often allocate a percentage of resources to this approach, meaning there is also a higher opportunity cost associated
- Stakeholder burnout is a combination of resourcing and time. The timeline drags on due to; long meetings required to document the process, gathering requirements, rank requirements, evaluating vendors, conducting product demos, etc.
- With no end in sight, the stakeholders begin to experience burnout, lose interest, and are no longer productive project team members. Worst-case scenario, they are no longer invested in the project's success.
At Olive, we believe the steps outlined in the traditional waterfall approach to software selection are the best way to reduce the risk associated with technology projects. But this approach leads to much longer timelines since there is more process, documentation, and oversight, and that's the number one issue with this approach, the sheer amount of time it takes before you have selected a solution and start to implement it. Unfortunately, this results in organizations skipping over crucial steps, jumping straight into demos, and missing important pieces of the process that produce success later.
Running a more agile software selection process, on the other hand, involves a more iterative approach. As each batch of requirements is defined, feedback is collected from stakeholders, so the needs are defined in consensus with key departments.
Olive was built to facilitate a more agile and collaborative approach to solution selection. You should follow up steps outlined in the traditionalist approach but make the process more agile and collaborative by using technology to eliminate any risk associated with the process itself. (Olive was built for this purpose).
Following the steps outlined in the traditionalist approach but leveraging technology like Olive to help facilitate a more agile and collaborative process can eliminate any of the risks associated with the process itself. Olive gives you a more agile way to run any technology evaluation or solution selection project while eliminating the long, tedious timelines and documentation involved in the process.
The Future of Digital Transformation Depends on People
Digital transformation has helped companies become more flexible and resilient during a global pandemic, with the more digitally advanced among them prospering in the post-pandemic era. It is now a reality that companies are operating digital-first: using new and emerging technology to create lean, agile operations that can compete in today’s highly competitive environment, as well as freeing employees from the drudgery of manual administrative tasks to focus on strategic thinking and long-term planning. The future of digital transformation is compelling and will be full of surprises along the way.
KB Max claims the most critical enabler of digital transformation will not be technology itself. It will be people. We agree! This is why we have created our platform - so that people can be more involved in planning and participating in this near digital future. As it currently stands, not enough people within organizations have the skills (and mindset) required to leverage digital capabilities.
According to Gartner, 64% of managers think their employees will not keep pace with future skill needs. Skills shortages will be one of the main barriers to digital transformation within large organizations.
Some factors are predictive, yet some aspects of the future of digital transformation are simply undeniable. Let’s take a look at some of IDC's DX predictions for the future:
- By 2023, 75% of organizations will have comprehensive digital transformation roadmaps.
- By 2023, 60% of leaders in G2000 organizations will have shifted their management orientation from processes to outcomes, establishing operating models that are more agile.
- By 2025, driven by volatile global conditions, 75% of business leaders will leverage digital platforms and ecosystem capabilities to adapt their value chains to new markets, industries, and ecosystems.
- By 2022, most companies will endeavor to combine digital and sustainability offerings, which will become the standard.
- To succeed in a digital-first economy, 50% of enterprises will implement the organizational culture optimized for DX in 2025, based on customer-centric and data-driven technology.
- By 2023, 60% of G2000 companies will build their business innovation platforms to support innovation and growth.
We can see here that digital transformation will affect all organizational efforts in the future, from people to customer-centric approaches to new markets, innovation, and growth.
It’s vital to understand that the future of digital transformation is not just about finding new technology. It’s about continuous agile collaboration with key stakeholders to ensure that you are procuring solutions that get used, that will drive digital transformation, and that you manage all of your technologies to ensure they all feed up to the big picture. This behavior should be part of the fabric of the organization. This is what can sustain a culture of digital transformation.
Digital transformation is a concept of commitment to continuous innovation and constantly monitoring and optimizing your existing technology to ensure that it is feeding up to the ultimate digital transformation goals of the business.
Olive is an end-to-end digital transformation platform that accelerates digital transformation initiatives the right way. We help organizations find the tech they need, which gets used and doesn’t become shelfware. We want to make it easy and exciting for organizations to work towards innovation and help sustain a culture of anticipation and excitement for digital transformation, not fear or hesitancy. Olive's agile approach helps streamline technology evaluations, increase collaboration and stakeholder engagement, and provide data-driven insights to help you find the solutions that will transform your business. The future of digital transformation is bright with Olive.
By 2023, 60% of G2000 companies will build their business innovation platforms to support innovation and growth.
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