Ensuring a Smooth Ride into the Digital Transformation Journey across the Enterprise

Sarbani Bhatia, Senior Vice President, IT, Dainik Jagran | Friday, 06 October 2017, 07:47 IST

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Digital is inevitable, digital is the way ahead and not going digital is not an option, it would mean losing out on the competitive edge. But digital is also disruptive. The Digital Transformation journey brings along with it, its share of ups and downs, opportunities and threats, prospects and risks. Even today, many small and medium sized Enterprises are still struggling to cope up with the challenges thrown up by the Digital wave.

Many organizations invest in the latest technology without assessing whether it is necessary and whether acquiring it would add value to the processes already defined and running. Merely investing in technology cannot be termed as Digital Transformation. The Technology roadmap should be carefully ascertained and planned, in terms of infrastructure, products and services and should be very closely aligned with the business goals of the organization. It is not a short-term goal to be achieved but a journey which is constantly evolving. Like any other transformation, it can be handled efficiently with proper planning and visualization. The most successful initiatives have occurred in organizations where the move has been driven from the top, where a clear mandate has been given by the Board to effectively plan out the journey, with well-defined timelines and budgeting. The Team Leader should be empowered to take bold and innovative steps that might be disruptive but in the long run, serve the purpose of attaining the Digital maturity that the enterprise is aspiring for, in conjunction with the business goals and strategies. Companies which are ahead in the digital transformation curve start with their workforce and then define a roadmap where strategy, technology, and processes are informed by digital insights. It is very important to develop a digital culture among the people, first and foremost. This includes building awareness, conducting training, providing platforms for employee collaboration and engagement, monitoring compliance and governance through workflows, etc.

The purpose of Digital Transformation should not be isolated to any specific line of business but should serve the entire enterprise. The structure of the Digital Transformation team should be layered horizontally across the entire organisation to have a uniform and effective impact across all Verticals and Lines of Business. Most enterprises lack a holistic approach in the absence of a single team driving the transformation journey.

Since all organisations are faced with a digital imperative, it is only prudent that they prepare to adapt their business to the new digital era. To launch their digital journey they should design their own disruptive digital business, but before they do so, they must assess the present state and its strength, and work out a gap analysis. The ongoing digital initiatives must be reviewed and planned ahead along with new projects. Often legacy technologies and on-premise infrastructure serve the basic purposes like back-office integration etc, and these can co-exist with new initiatives like cloud, mobility and analytics. An organisation can leverage the benefits of cloud agility as well as the stability of traditional and on-premise platforms, and the optimum combination will depend on its business and security needs. Increasing dependancy on digital operations gives rise to many new security threats, both internal and external hence the security strategy should be enhanced and made scalable to be able to combat not only the present but future threats as well.

Having interacted with many IT Leaders in the course of conferences and networking sessions, I have realised that there can be several ways to approach the digital transformation journey. While some can be completely customer-centric, others may focus more on the workplace and eco-system.

“The way we look at digital transformation is really through the lens of the customers, enabling customers to interact in the channel of their choice,” said the IT Head of a well-known bank. “We have to respond to behavorial trends in digital, delivering the right kinds of experiences that our customers demand.”

“Our single biggest Digital Transformation effort is not focused on digital but around our own workplaces,” another CIO was overheard saying. “We found that until we went through the process of cleaning out the old, we couldn’t bring in the new.”

The CIO of a famous food delivery chain mentioned that they were focussed on improving consumer experience across all touchpoints. Their approach has been to achieve a high level of maturity in each individual digital channel before uniting them all in a single platform. Hence, they were trying to establish an efficient CRM system to build a reliable database around the consumers.

Having attained the desired level of digital maturity, an organisation can surely reap the benefits by speeding up its time to market, out-performing its competitors with innovation and actionable insights of the market operate at optimum costs and build effective strategies to maximise revenues.

At the end of this journey, the ultimate dream of every Digital Transformation Leader would be to have a futuristic workplace that is intelligent, responsive, dynamic and completely secure; facilitates high productivity and revenue, and where users have a contextual experience whereby they are provided with the right data at the right time, where software applications are smart, efficient and aligned with the business operations.

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