The Digital Conundrum

It’s everywhere and it’s all everyone talks about. So, how do you cut through the digital buzzword maze to get to the clear, complete, and coherent business value it promises?

In this “digital age,” organizations have either embarked on a digital transformation, have a digital strategy, or are adapting their approach to digital operations. There are numerous blogs, papers, and articles on what digital means, but depending on where you get your information, terms are used interchangeably and definitions are inconsistent.

In this blog, my quest is to provide some clarity on digital transformation to help you find your rightful place in the digital workplace.

Digital Strategy vs. Digital Operations vs. Digital Transformation

What is digital strategy? Is it to adopt a mobile or cloud-first strategy, establish marketing capability on an established platform, or modernize through Internet of Things (IoT)? The answer is all of the above, but digital strategy can be limited to a business function, a group of people, a line of business, or apply to the entire organization. Having a digital strategy, quite simply, means that an organization has an overall business strategy that includes the role of its digital technologies and how those technologies drive toward specific business and technology goals.

Digital operations address how an organization executes digital strategy across internal processes and functions. It allows for the view of employees as customers and aims at driving speed to market, increased innovation, reduced errors through automation, and reduced costs as a result of operating efficiencies. While there is potential for internal improvements, for now, organizations are more focused on impact to client delivery, consecutive revenue growth, and improved profitability.

Digital transformation is comprehensive and involves leveraging the latest technologies and processes for a faster, flexible, and nimble business model. These changes address how work will be done across the organization between resources, how success will be measured, and how problems will be discussed and solved, and also create a culture of innovation and collaboration. At the core of digital transformation is data, the actionable information derived from that data, and how that information is then used as a transformation driver.

How do organizations achieve digital transformation?

Organizations pursuing digital transformation must focus on five key principles that support the necessary changes to internal operations while also providing value to external customers.

  1. Data and analytics help drive value through relevant information that supports intelligent and timely decision making. Leaders and executives today require real-time data and predictive analytics to adjust and (re)calibrate for increasing success probability. Organizations don’t just look to data for course correction, but also to support their vision and to leverage in executing their strategies.
  2. Technology provides the backbone for transformation. Many organizations have adopted cloud-first or mobile-first strategies with a focus on application and infrastructure modernization and device flexibility. Organizations are evolving in their scalability and growth needs with forward-looking hyperconvergence frameworks and “as-a-service” operational models. Digital transformation takes into consideration these modern-day advances, but is more than the sum of its technologies. At its core, digital transformation is focused on business change, user experience, and the customer journey that enables value through data and provides a seamless, collaborative experience that fosters innovation.
  3. Accessibility to the right data early in the process provides transparency and speed in decision making. Organizations must look to collaboration platforms and methodologies like Agile and DevOps that bring developers, designers, and users together to allow for quick and incremental returns. However, with greater accessibility comes great responsibility. Today’s organization must look to balance accessibility with security concerns and data protection.
  4. Prioritization of projects will help achieve the early realization of digital transformation investment. The digital journey typically consists of critical, highly visible, and impactful projects and other undertakings that promise to add efficiencies to business operations. Automation and machine learning initiatives could be considered critical business imperatives for some industries, while "nice-to-have” for others. Further, digital projects are not just about technology and many times impact other areas of the organization, such as content creation for marketing, supply-chain platform syndication for greater product visibility, or establishing governance. Clear objective and goal setting is essential to digital transformation success.  
  5. Culture of innovation helps organizations remain on the leading edge of market trends long after the initial transformation is complete. A focus beyond technology modernization to processes and people—employees and customers alike—allows for the ongoing nurturing of a “digital culture” and results in benefits to the organization, including continued customer satisfaction, employee retention, and brand viability in this new, highly competitive digital world.

 

The value from digital transformation is real, but so is the time required to realize the long-term organizational benefits. With a clear plan and focus on these key principles, an organization is well positioned to transform how they do business, execute on their strategy and operate, and achieve clarity on its digital goals.

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Irfan Kapasi is a strategy and management leader, driving growth and operational efficiencies through his current role at CTG. Irfan has helped organizations with business transformation and technology modernization, with a cloud-first strategy and digital enablement.

LinkedIn: Irfan Kapasi

Twitter: @irfan_kapasi

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