There’s something of the flirtatious lothario about ‘digital’. It’s got all the right intentions but is often a significant disappointment when it comes to results in the boardroom.
Tumescent promises of disruption and innovation frequently wilt in the face of the technological and organisational ‘baggage’ that exists in most big businesses.
Nonetheless, the allure of digital is strong. And its certain appeal lies in an ability to provide key features to any business transformation programme.
It’s clear that digital affords organisations to move with pace. Digital technology and digital ways of working are inherently quick.
A start-up mentality moves rapidly towards delivery of a ‘minimum viable product’. An open, cloud-based approach to software and infrastructure enables fast prototyping and deployment
Digital also offers flexibility. The iterative nature of agile development methods and the adaptive architecture of digital solutions are deliberately conceived to enable a project to ‘pivot’. Changes in direction are not just accepted – they are expected
Digital allows organisations to transform at scale. It isn’t just about prototypes – digital infrastructure is virtual. Utility-priced digital platforms are scalable gateways to crowd sourcing and networked capacity. Through digital, organisations can build scale rapidly and easily
At face value, it’s no wonder that digital is so attractive. But according to research by Sopra Steria, it is not necessarily a determinant of success – 84% of organisations confess they could be better exploiting digital.
So, should all businesses be looking to digitally transform? This is the question on the lips of companies across many industries right now. And if everyone is talking about it, what exactly does digital transformation mean?
Digital transformation is a whole-scale change to the foundational aspects of a business – from the business operating models to infrastructure – through the application of digital technology.
In Sopra Steria’s recent survey of 120 FTSE 500 companies, the majority (64%) said they implemented digital projects to update their existing legacy infrastructure, streamline processes and reduce costs.
However, many (60%) also said they are seeking to increase customer engagement by improving the experience they offer their customers.
Significantly, most businesses are happy with the time in which their projects have been delivered. In fact, 83% of businesses surveyed were satisfied with the pace. This bucks the long trend of companies complaining that IT projects often run over time.
Yet there are some difficulties that still need to be overcome. 82% of businesses acknowledged that IT was core to the success of their project, yet just over half (54%) needed a third party to help them deploy.
This is because many organisations still lack the in-house IT skills to properly deploy digital solutions, which is in part due to the current gap in digital skills in the UK market.
However, it also reflects the need to quickly access key skills and developed governance frameworks in order to demonstrate return on investment.
Bringing in a third party can be a way around this, and many organisations have opted to go down this route, but only if the team they are bringing in has previous experience with digital projects. Of those surveyed, businesses that brought in a third party reported stronger governance and greater success.
While only half (52%) of UK businesses currently have a digital project underway, they are moving at a much faster concept to ‘at scale roll-out’ than ever before.
They are experimenting with a wide range of digital technologies and devices in order to achieve their business ambitions, as the agile nature of digital projects enable them to learn, remodel and deploy swiftly.
This brings an interesting competitive dynamic for businesses that are still trying to decide how they apply digital intelligently in their organisations.
There are four intelligent elements that form the basis of a rewarding relationship with digital.
1. ‘Deep thinking’ about the business context
This will always be the best foundation for any complex programme. Always make sure you have a clear understanding of the business goals you are pursuing.
2. Commitment to ‘sustained value’
This will carry you through even the toughest of times, so make sure you deliver results – however minimally viable – early and keep focusing on building outcomes forever. There is no steady state.
3. Rely on ‘networked knowledge’
You won’t – and shouldn’t pretend to – know it all. The beauty of digital is that it is pathologically oriented to collaboration. Rather than try to own every aspect of your programme, build a platform of partners that will enable you to get the best help when you need it.
4. See your relationship with digital in terms of building a ‘fluid enterprise’
A successful digital venture is agile, lean and able to adapt to the future demands of business change.
Sourced from Richard Potter, innovation and digital transformation leader, Sopra Steria