Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Selling Digital Transformation

As I write this title I wonder if digital transformation can be sold or even understood. Sales professionals and consultants can paint a picture with the term, but will the customer be sold? I would suggest that most CIOs would be strong advocates for change and digital transformation, at least as they define it. Therein lies the problem. What is digital transformation? It is usually described as a change in culture within the organization that everyone buys into that can position the organization to provide greater efficiency, better customer service, perhaps lower operating costs, and a platform for innovation and growth. It centers on the adoption of strategically selected technologies to create a better organization. For some entities this might mean eliminating paper processes or providing smooth workflows to save time, cost, and effort, as an initial step. For others it could mean enhancing customer service, raising productivity or improving the supply chain with a cloud ERP system. In all, digital transformation is a commitment to improve performance in all areas using technology.

I take the position that CIOs and consultants should use the term digital transformation only when talking to CEOs and they should be quick to provide a definition that hits the pain points of the particular organization. Digital transformation is a buzz phrase that has multiple meanings, yet we see it in every technology blog and IT article. Digital transformation puts a label on a goal. Unfortunately it is not meaningful to the average person. It belongs in a the strategic plan and the elevator speech of any CIO these days, but when discussing this type of change with functional users or other executives it should be coupled with 3-4 significant projects that result in significant change and improve the organization. These projects should provide the groundwork for changes down the line. I say 3-4 projects because this is probably the maximum amount of change an organization can deal with in one conversation. Managing change and setting goals must be done in manageable bites. Include enough ideas to whet the appetite, but make sure the goals are not overwhelming.

As we prepare for the next decade institutions/organizations need to take a hard look at what they want to become and how they want to operate. They need to consider their goals and their competition. What will it take to remain successful? What kind of organization do we want to and need to become? How do we want to present ourselves to the market? What changes do we need to put in place to enable us to be agile and poised for additional change? Digital transformation is the process that leads to agility and better performance, but it needs to be presented as a series of strategic steps within a larger context.

No comments: