The phrase “digital transformation” is used frequently these days, but it has actually existed for decades in simpler forms with the basic adoption of technology in businesses. Its significance is changing as technology permeates more facets of our lives and transcends the physical boundaries of business, bursting into our homes and into the palms of our hands with limitless information where boundaries are a thing of the past. Today, we have a stronger sense of brand loyalty and desire to understand the inner workings of the companies that manufacture our favorite goods. This paradox has changed the meaning of the phrase and is now much more than just a straightforward tool or piece of software installation. My favorite quote from Brooke Lester:
Digital transformation involves the use of technology to radically improve performance or the reach of businesses
Establishes the foundation for some of the factors that any IT function, in order to guide organizations into their digital evolution, should take into account. These factors are people, process, technology, customers, and products.
- Become a business partner. Create an organizational structure that drives business engagement through enterprise functional knowledge, becoming process leaders to establish great working relationships to provide IT solutions that enable business process optimization and deliver capabilities to the organization.
- Develop your people. It is very important to develop your personnel for the next generation of skillsets and prepare them for the future. A more capable workforce will nourish creativity and increase adoption of improved processes and technologies. The level of investment in this area will determine the level of organizational change capability at all levels, from top to bottom; which is essential for any type of transformation.
- Quality IT services. Increase the IT services quality and enforce standards; having a robust operating model will allow your function to focus their time and intellectual property on high value activities that are bringing the business forward, while having a methodology to follow and establish consistency.
- Process improvement. Convert low value processes and activities to free up resources into more challenging and value add activities. Well defined processes will assist daily operations to function like a well-oiled machine, the more familiar and known they are, the more you can continue identifying candidates for further automation and evolve into RPA (Robotic Process Automation), a well-defined component of digital transformation.
- Robust Infrastructure. Modernize and maintain an infrastructure that can stand up to the challenge of growth and facilitate transitions as new technologies come into play; outdated and unkept infrastructure can slow up progress and become a large expense at the moment of transformation.
- Strategic initiatives. Support initiatives that have measurable impact, valuated return and grow the business. Become a champion of your functional stakeholders by supporting projects that follow the company’s mission, vision and have their results oriented to achieving strategic goals.
- Data as an asset. Treat your data as one of your most important holdings; protect it and steward it. As I mentioned earlier, the generations ahead of us are data agile and hunger for it, so they have learned to use it for every aspect of their lives and the intelligent and proper use of quality and trustful data will help them set the competitive difference in the workplace and beyond.
These elements will help you focus your efforts and resources on high value, thought provoking activities to push digital transformation to set the stage to be ahead of the curve, proactive to react to external conditions and be ready for challenges presented for continued growth.