Insight Article: Harnessing The Power Of Digital Transformation In A Post-Covid Era
The pace of change seen in the last few years has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is becoming clear that those who can’t (or won’t) keep up are getting left behind. Small organisations who claim they aren’t able to afford new technology are getting bulldozed by multinationals, meanwhile large companies holding onto traditional structures and values are being overtaken by nimbler technology-focussed competitors who can give the consumer what they want, and do it fast!
The need for an agile business has never been so clear. But how can you create an innovative and constantly evolving organisation? For many, digital transformation is the only way forward.
At the core of digital transformation is the concept of creating new value propositions. It is not merely about changes to infrastructure or enhancing workflows, but rather using digital technology to cater for the evolving wants and desires of your customers. Of course, digitalization is important, and organisations should ensure that their current processes are done as effectively as possible. But digital transformation calls for bold and innovative changes that push you out of our comfort zone and into a new realm of business.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
— CHARLES DARWIN
Why All Organizations Need to be Thinking Digital
During Covid-19, aspects of life which once seemed far from becoming digital were placed online rapidly and effectively. For example, doctors’ surgeries have long been reluctant to move consultations online… yet now the thought of going into the surgery for minor issues seems hazardous and time consuming. Of course, there have been hiccups from such rapid change, but it has been impressive how many organisations have compressed years of development into just a few months.
The pandemic also showcased an issue that has bubbled under the surface of many organisations for years: people don’t want change, especially at work! This can stem from a lack of time, fear of the unknown, resource restraints or, quite simply, an outdated mindset. However, what we can say for certain is that if organisations don’t fight to overcome these obstacles, they will miss out on the plethora of opportunities available in the digital age. A study by McKinsey, for example, has found that those who embrace ‘bold, tightly integrated digital strategies’ in the last three years have experienced much higher rates of growth than those relying on traditional methods. This highlights the necessity for organisations to trial new innovative ideas and push forward quickly on the ones that prove successful.
What should you consider?
Where are you in your strategy planning? SKCI uses the 5KQ (5 Key Questions) framework to lay out a clear path for strategy. These 5 questions will ask you to consider where your organisation is now and where you would like it to be. Although it seems simple, this fundamental understanding of your company’s vision paves the way for a digital overhaul.
Do we have the right people onboard to enact a digital transformation?
As your company grows and changes you need to evaluate what kind of skills you require to manage the new technology. In some cases, you may need to provide training to current employees or bring in the right people from outside. This may be costly at first (especially for smaller businesses) but will have a lasting long-term effect.
What does our current customer base need and how can we create it?
A critical part of any digital transformation process is to gain meaningful insights on customers’ needs and wants. These insights can be gathered through the analysis of transactional and other business data, experimenting with ideas, and asking questions focus groups and surveys. Many organisations have piles of underused data about their customers, now is the time to take that knowledge and apply the right questions to it. Digital transformation isn’t about reinventing the wheel or completely changing your target audience… Ideally you want to focus on what your current consumer is lacking and find creative ways to confront those demands.
What platforms and partnerships will be needed?
It can be really beneficial to look at how your organisation collaborates with partners and suppliers. During Covid-19, the supply chains of many businesses fell apart, leaving organisations in the lurch. A large part of Digital transformation lies in creating an agile system which can evolve and change when faced with these issues. While enhancing yourself digitally you should question what partnerships you wish to strengthen and how these collaborations can increase your visibility.
What technology is right for us?
This is probably the most difficult question as there are so many answers! Your decision should be based in the vision you hold for the company and what you believe is necessary to achieve it. Every company has different resources, requirements and goals so there really is no one size fits all. The great news for smaller organizations is that going digital is no longer the huge financial burden it once was.
For example, the cost of data analytics tools has reduced greatly in recent years; a market that was once the preserve of high-end companies such as Tableau and MicroStrategy has become increasingly commoditized as companies such as Microsoft, with their Power BI analytics tool, have entered the market. This is great news for end-users (especially for smaller companies) as there now affordable and easy to use tools which can aid you in creating data-based strategy.
Likewise, a lack of understanding around new technology can lead to management teams imposing unnecessary limitations. There is wide array of products and services out there which can be utilised to grow organisations and move them into the tech world. Taking time to look at the work of your peers and to research what can actually be done, is not time wasted when trying to form a cohesive technology platform that reflects your business’s design. Of course, it is almost impossible to get this right first time. Ideally, your digital platform should be a set of reusable components – data components, business logic components, and infrastructure components- that can be built on and adapted as you move forward.
What role does culture play?
Although senior leadership will inevitably make the overarching decisions about where the organisation is heading, it will be employees and line managers who drive the change. Therefore, a culture which fosters growth and learning will be much more adaptable than one which clings to traditional ways of doing things. Leadership should provide opportunities for employees to study new technology and how it can be applied in a business setting, this eliminates the fear of change and ensures that the organisation has the tools necessary to keep moving forward.
The good news is that’s its possible for organization of all sizes and backgrounds to transform themselves digitally. The bad news… that, as we mentioned above, change is always hard!
At SKCI we encourage people to use use Kotter’s Eight Stage Process for Change to help strategy come into place smoothly and effectively.
Firstly, you must create a sense of urgency. As previously mentioned, people aren’t always keen on change and having a sense of urgency can overcome this problem. Discuss the importance of digital transformation and be realistic about where you will be in 5 years if you don’t keep up with competitors. Then, we advise the creation of a ‘coalition for change’ who can drive process and ensure it is implemented successfully. Too often leadership creates amazing strategy and then lets it fall at the wayside. From this point you can grapple with your vision and how you are going to achieve it.
“The next 5 years will be more disruptive than the last 15. This is NOT business as usual. A lot of technology that came in three years ago doesn’t work anymore.”
— Saul Berman, IBM
Digital transformation can be difficult and that’s why SKCI is here to help. We run Masterclasses and Workshops to help guide you through the process and provide you with strategy tools and resources. Please reach out for a Complimentary Business Consultancy Call or to set up a Masterclass or Workshop to set you on the right path to achieve your goals.