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Take charge of digital transformation
Laura Wier
Practice Head: Business Enablement at DVT

Take charge of digital transformation

The other day I was working out at my local gym and wondering why the gym’s smartphone app – which motivated me to get up and go in the first place – isn’t the way most of my other service providers engage with me.


Don’t get me wrong; there’s obviously a big difference between a gym and say, a bank, but the point is that large, successful businesses like gyms and banks have largely overlapping customers, which means quite a lot of ‘common ground’ when it comes to new and digitally-savvy ways of reaching them.


Digital transformation is all about becoming customer centric, and the customer is - to a large degree - influencing how they want to experience your brand and services. If, like earlier at the gym, I experience something good from one business, I want the same experience from another. If my gym’s app can motivate me to get moving after a long day, then I want my bank’s app to educate and motivate me to save, invest or simply have easier access to the services that add the most value to my life.


As a business consultant, analyst and mentor, I work with many different companies where digital transformation has become priority, and yet so many otherwise smart and forward-thinking organisations are still stuck choosing between frameworks and methodologies instead of taking charge and making things happen.


The reality is that most of these companies are in various states of transition, and the roles of management and staff are constantly changing and evolving. Unlike start-ups that can pick and choose how they build effective digital solutions for their customers from the ground up, legacy businesses need to transition into doing so. That often results in people getting stuck on role definitions and responsibilities, rather than the executive taking charge and charting the way forward for the business as a whole.


The customer doesn’t care how you’re building behind the scenes, or which Agile methodology you use, or which framework is flavour of the month. They’re not going to wait a year or two for you to get your ducks in a row and build them an app that does what they want; they’ll look over to your competitors’ and pick one that gives them what they need.


Since we’re talking Agile, the one thing agile supports above all else is the benefit of iterative implementation and learning. Build something useful your customers can use today and add more features as you build them tomorrow. Come up with a ‘hook’ and add value as you go, because being first to market is very important in this day and age where second is as good as gone.


But to do so we need to have a conversation about business and the speed of change happening at business level. Business people, from CEOs to middle managers, need to understand how to change and work differently. Where methods like Agile fail, it’s often because of a silo that’s been built between technology and business or even worse still, IT driving an agile framework opposed to business embarking on an agile culture.


At an executive level, if you’re abdicating responsibility to the delivery team, it’s a fundamental problem. The successful companies I work with – those delivering timeous digital solutions to market – all have one thing in common: a business executive that’s actively involved in the process, and a vision that’s been translated very clearly to the team. They care, they want to know what’s going to market, and they take charge when it counts to make it happen.


Take the case of a large online retailer that had delivery issues with its digital fulfilment platform over the last Christmas period. As soon as the problem was discovered, executive management collectively faced the public, took ownership, explained the issue and was involved in prioritising and minimising the impact on customers.


It doesn’t always have to be this visible, and ideally more often about solution delivery than problem resolution, but the point is they were intimately involved. This is the level of involvement that underlies all successful businesses as they charge forward with digital transformation, irrespective of the tools and strategies they use to get there.


If you have any questions about this article or comments, please feel free to contact me via LinkedIn.