What’s The Transformation Journey Like and Where Do We Start?

Core elements in most Digital Transformations

The pandemic has accelerated the move from in-person, brick-and-mortar interactions to remote, digital interactions. And so, we have to ask ourselves what our Digital Transformation journey will look like, and where do we start? Each transformation journey needs to be tailored to the organization’s aspiration, industry, blockers, digital literacy, technology, and the like. Harnessing Digital Disruption comprises a deep dive into this question.

The following core elements that are common to most Digital Transformations:

  1. Digitize critical customer journeys
  2. Level up technology and data infrastructure
  3. Deploy new ways of working

These are a good starting point for your company as you begin your own Digital Transformation.

Digitize Critical Customer Journeys

Digital transformation is about simplifying the customer experience by removing waste and hassle, and by getting closer and closer to satisfying the customer’s needs. We also call these ‘jobs to be done’ – each customer ‘hires’ our product or service to do a job for them.

For example, I hire my local baseball team to provide my teenage son and I with one-on-one time together at the ball park, during which we bond, eat hot dogs and build memories. Ticket hassles, long line ups at the hot dog stand, and difficulty getting into and out of the ball park all detract from our experience. Focusing our digital efforts on removing this hassles connects us directly to the customer – a core element of any digital transformation. As you begin your journey, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the customer who is hiring your company and figure out what hassles they may experience that you can remove.

Level Up Technology & Data Infrastructure

Most companies have so-called ‘legacy’ IT infrastructure comprising legacy hardware, software, network resources and services we need to deliver IT services to our employees and customers. Sometimes, we’re legally required to maintain our legacy systems. But as in a city, our infrastructure decays with time and can be obsolesced by new technology. In your Digital Transformation, you need to make sure that the technology and data capabilities of your organization are up good enough to gain valuable customer insights.

Digitizing customer journeys, for example, requires connecting with external partners including technology providers, data aggregators, platforms, utilities, and regulators.  Do our legacy systems enable such connectivity? Often they lack the necessary APIs and microsystems to connect with other internal systems, let alone external partners.

Similarly, the past decade’s Data explosion has created vast ‘data lakes’ that can be mined for gold – the gold of customer insight and a hassle-free, personalized experience.  But doing so requires Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, technological innovations that may be inaccessible with our legacy technology.

Deploy New Ways of Working

Here’s an interesting paradox: the biggest challenge in Digital Transformations is not technology – it’s culture. In other words, our constraint is usually not facility with so-called exponential technologies like Data Analytics, AI or Internet of Things. Our constraint, rather, is how we work.

So-called ‘traditional’ companies have developed a way of working based on stable, repeatable processes, low error rates, clear lines of communication and responsibility, hierarchy, domain excellence and the like. And for the most part, this has worked well, and has supported stability, productivity and growth.

But to fully realize the benefit of exponential technologies we have to learn to work in a radically different way. It’s not enough to digitize customer journeys, or improve our data capabilities. We have to be able to:

  • Fluidly form cross-functional, non-hierarchical teams,
  • Who come together, as needed, to address specific customer needs and problems,
  • By experimenting and learning their way up the proverbial ‘hockey stick’ curve, and
  • Dissolve fluidly when the job is complete

Such radical collaboration requires a deep and shared understanding of breakthrough methodologies like Design Thinking, Agile and Lean Startup. It also requires a comfort with uncertainty and so-called Lean experimentation.

To compound the challenge, we need to do all this while maintaining our zero-defect culture. In other words, we need to be ambidextrous – sustaining both a zero-defect culture, and one of Lean experimentation. Fortunately, our core elements are mutually supportive. For example, we cannot digitize critical customer journeys, unless we level up our IT and Data infrastructure.

Keep these core elements in mind as you begin your Digital Transformation journey.  At the very least, they’ll get you started in the right direction.