Technology and business
Stewart Braid 17 Aug 2017 05:19pm

Digital transformation - the time is now, but how?

A successful digital transformation programme will reinvent and reinvigorate the organisation

We can all agree that digital transformation is the phrase of the moment and, along with cybersecurity, the number one topic of importance to senior technology leaders in business today. Recent research from Source Global Research states that 79% of UK consultancy clients believe that they will increase investment in consulting to help support digital technology work, with 77% planning to invest more in data and analytics.

A successful digital transformation programme will reinvent and reinvigorate the organisation, increase employee engagement, extend competencies and efficiencies, bring sustainable long-term cost savings and most importantly, create a unified, inspired and collaborative workforce along the way.

Implementing a successful digital transformation programme is potentially a lengthy and complex process, but one that is certain to bring dividends. Many companies are sceptical, some cautious and almost all unprepared for the long but transformational road ahead.

A number of key areas should be considered when looking to make the necessary changes to deliver a game changing digital transformation programme – one that will reap long term benefits, promote and protect the business and be a key exponent in taking it to the next level.

Controlling change and its impact on the business can be a make-or-break factor of project success. Establishing a Change Advisory Board (CAB) can help ensure that the required changes are realistic, do not cause disruption to workflow, and work within the project scope and budget. The CAB is a group of people able, and empowered, to represent the business and process stakeholders. Given the task of evaluating changes to the IT environment, the team will comprise of technical staff and key decision makers in the business. The change manager should ensure the right people, with the right information, knowledge and background are there to effectively review each change.

It also advisable that the Board of Directors are highly involved in the transformation programme, with ideally at least one Board member within your Change Advisory Board team. This will ensure that the Board are up to speed and included throughout the change process. Vision, strategy and communication are all key in ensuring the most effect CAB as it adapts to meet the business needs and over business outcomes.

It is important to identify key service transition principles. The objective of a service transition process is to build and deploy IT services via a service lifecycle stage, ensuring that changes to services and service management processes are carried out in a coordinated way. Identifying and understanding the key principles of service transition is imperative.

The key principles during the cycle focus on goal, scope, processes and key concepts, which comprise of change management, asset and configuration management, transition planning and support, service validation and testing, change evaluation and knowledge management. Correctly understanding and implementing these processes during the project will ensure you are on the right track.

Change is good but difficult; hard but necessary. The transitional phase should be a seen as a journey and one that will come with many challenges and key learnings. The most important thing is to be prepared and start the project with a defined and agreed end goal that you never lose sight of. Change should be implemented in stages; create the sense of urgency that gathers support for change. Then develop a solution that should be rolled out on a pilot basis, with regular feedback and evaluation at every stage of the digital transformation journey.

You’ll need to make sure you have unified and positive communications to ensure a smooth transition. The biggest potential barrier to successful change programmes is people. An organisation can have the most advanced IT infrastructure in the world, but if its people aren’t on-board, it can mean trouble. Businesses need to prioritise the human perspective in the technology stack on the digital transformation journey.

Developing efficient ways to communicate and educate your staff to the new ways of working can ease the stress your staff feel when the programme of change is introduced. It can also help your clients, customers and business partners adjust to any changes in the way you do business. Get buy in from them and you are on your way.

Finally, equip leaders and managers to lead change. Talk to the whole business, not just the technology department and link the technology change to the business strategy. The return on investment for Digital Transformation is dependent on behavioural change, but that is discretionary. It’s all about trust. As Grant Waterfall, Partner at PwC, comments in the firm’s report, Digital Trust: “Trust has become essential in the digital age. It must underpin how you organise and run your business so that you can be successful. With high profile international debates on data privacy and security it’s not difficult to see why.

Stewart Braid, digital transformation specialist, Timico