Digital transformations rarely achieve positive outcomes. According to a Bain and Company survey, 95% have failed to achieve or exceed expectations.
Why do so many digital transformations fail? Because many companies aren’t wired to succeed. They don’t take the first internal transformation steps that precede successful digital transformation.
Digital transformation involves everything from how a business interacts with customers via websites, email campaigns, and e-commerce, to how it operates its internal processes and how it evolves through new products, experiences, operating models, and branding.
IT plays a key role in enabling all of this. But how can IT leaders rewire their companies to excel at digital transformation? How can they be the catalysts for changing the way people think, act, and collaborate at work?
There’s a lot to be learned from the six key things that future-oriented, effective companies do when it comes to changing the way they approach work:
1. Connect strategy to delivery
Your organization has strategic objectives, but how do you know that work is aligned to those objectives across all your business units and global teams? Front-line employees need constant visibility of the strategy so they can understand how their work contributes to corporate objectives. Connecting strategy to delivery also enables success to be measured.
To strengthen your enterprise-wide connection between strategy and delivery, you need to implement technology that maps out workflows across business units and teams. This approach gives leaders a real-time birds-eye-view of projects they can actively manage to ensure that work is aligned with company strategy.
2. Iteratively plan and prioritize
Businesses that want to succeed at digital transformation need to be able to adapt their organization’s work quickly as new challenges and opportunities arise. The urgent need for business agility is top-of-mind for business leaders everywhere right now as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis.
The key here is iterative flexibility. You need to architect your company’s technology to allow for flexible planning and prioritization. For example, as COVID-19 restrictions took hold, businesses needed to quickly adapt to shifting their entire workforce to remote working. IT teams had to find a way to support thousands of physically isolated individuals who needed to continue delivering work despite a global pandemic.
3. Increase productivity without intruding.
When it comes to the styles, processes, and requirements that create maximum productivity and efficiency, individual teams usually know best. Smart IT leaders will find ways to help these teams become more productive without violating their autonomy. Different working processes and preferred tools need to be accommodated in a way that boosts productivity without impacting individual working preferences.
Automation should be a favorite tool to support this. IT leaders need to dig into the processes and workflows of different teams, looking for low-value tasks that can be automated to save time and enhance efficiency.
4. Make data accessible and actionable.
When business leaders have to spend days gathering and crunching data into an actionable format, they miss opportunities and waste resources. They need to have access to the right data in real-time.
To generate this kind of actionable data, technology must access and integrate data from multiple systems and present that data in useful ways in real-time. Since security and privacy will always be priorities, role-based hierarchies can be created to ensure that the right data is visible only to the right people. When done right, this is one of the most powerful capabilities IT can provide to the organization.
5. Break down data silos.
Connecting strategy to delivery, driving productivity at the enterprise level, enabling more agile prioritization, and combining data from multiple systems are impossible without the integration of applications and systems. But it requires more than just moving data around.
Integration should be structured in a way that provides flexibility to diverse teams and interoperable workflows and central visibility across all business units. They must also scale to provide the visibility and collaboration a global enterprise needs to succeed in its digital transformation efforts.
6. Find the right partners.
Shepherding your organization through such a dramatic internal transformation—enabling them to work in new ways, to achieve things previously unachievable—is not simple. This is especially true for IT departments whose time is taken up by firefighting, fixing problems, and responding to requests every day. That's why IT teams need to be surrounded by specialist partners that can support strategic planning, and see the long-term vision through the fog of daily fire-fighting.
On those days when you are besieged by fire drills from every corner of your business, these partners help to refocus efforts on the strategic improvements that will rewire your business for digital transformation success.
IT is uniquely positioned to champion digital transformation
The focus on technology to deliver business change means that IT departments today must be able to translate an enterprise's transformation objectives into a roadmap for achieving those goals—using the right tools and technology. IT teams hold a unique position within most organizations, having daily interaction with managers and employees across all departments, and a big-picture view of all digital tools deployed across the business. IT leaders are ideally placed to champion digital transformation from within an entire enterprise.