Half of your digital transformation effort may not be so digital

Oct 26, 2020
Oct 26, 2020
0 min. read

Middle market businesses involved in digital transformation are regularly improving their use of technology to drive value in some manner. However, all too often, much focus is on the technology itself and not enough on strategic governance over the transformation path. Not finding the right balance may result in conflicting priorities, missed opportunities and usually lower ROI along the way.

The following five tips, focused more on the “softer side” of transformation—things such as strategic alignment and purpose, people and organization, and a collaborative culture—will help optimize your governing balance ultimately improving your results.

Establish your digital strategy and tactics from a business perspective

The highest value often comes from optimizing the experience your customers have, but perhaps you’ve determined you need to focus on your employee experience or other operations. Once you’ve identified your focus perspective, a storyboard or journey map should be developed and maintained to act as the key communication for how the future business processes will operate with which new or upgraded technologies. The idea is to paint a picture, related to your focus perspective, so anyone can easily understand what the future state will look like.

Have your transformation leader not report through IT

Reporting to IT, at some point, tends to create inevitable conflicts and can limit out-of-the box thinking. The leader however, should have a strong knowledge of technology and solid understanding of the business. Have your digital leader report to a top executive in charge of company or organizational results. This might be a CEO, president or COO.

Collaborate often with your business unit leaders, other governing teams and committees, and IT

Most companies and organizations have multiple decision makers on strategy and tactics. This may include C-suite executives, business unit or departmental leaders, the enterprise program management office (EPMO), steering committees, data and other governance committees, other PMOs, etc. The digital transformation leader and team must be highly collaborative with excellent negotiating skills because they may recommend strategy and change that challenges any of these parties at any given time. Additionally the business or IT teams who will actually be carrying out execution of recommended initiatives may also be resistant from time to time.

Develop your digital roadmap to include ongoing major initiatives as necessary

Chances are you already have significant technology or business initiatives going on. Incorporate these into your digital strategy and prioritization as appropriate, slowing or stopping initiatives only if they are determined to be very out of alignment with new strategy and tactics. This will promote a collaborative mindset and build goodwill showing the digital strategy doesn’t necessarily trump all other activities.

Avoid shiny objects

Establish a governance process over your roadmap and realize execution will take some time, usually six to thirty-six months. Resist the Google searchers who will try to tell you they’ve found and downloaded the coolest app solving all their issues and it must be incorporated immediately into the digital strategy – changing your prioritization. If you’ve put in the time, done your homework, developed strategy and tactics around your focus perspective, and gained buy-in from the other governing parties, then trust the process and higher results will come. Half of your digital transformation effort may not be so digital.

RSM contributors

  • Steve Mermelstein