Partner, The Birchman Group
Companies are increasingly turning to digital transformation to give them the agility they need to survive – but how do you deliver success?
Richard Taylor, partner at UK headquartered management and IT consultancy, The Birchman Group, says: “We see very clear evidence that when the business owns the Digital Transformation strategy and leads the change the greatest success is achieved. It concerns me that still too often digital transformation is considered an IT project and the opportunity to deliver real transformation and agility is missed. IT plays an important role, but it is the business that needs to sponsor, own and drive digital transformation.”
Agility is the hallmark of a sustainable business, and digital transformation is how you get there – but it’s common for companies to fall at the first hurdle of the process.
“If you don’t have agility, you can’t adapt to market conditions or to your competitors and are at risk of not surviving,” he says.
IT plays an important role, but it is the business that needs to sponsor, own and drive digital transformation.
COVID-19 has demonstrated this, he says. Birchman has worked with several consumer-packaged goods companies forced to change their business models overnight when their customers stopped operating during lockdown.
“The ones that were agile adapted to connect directly with the consumers. Those that weren’t, struggled.”
Successful digital transformation delivered at pace
The digital transformation process may be essential, but many organisations fail its execution. To be successful, Taylor says, direction must come from the top and all stakeholders should be onboard.
“Organisations need to be clear on what they want to achieve, from a strategic perspective, and ensure the objectives and goals are communicated, understood and collectively agreed.”
“Digital Transformation delivers agility, but companies also need an agile mindset and governance model to deliver digital transformation,” he says.
We work with organisations to help them develop their digital transformation strategy, roadmap and implementation approach that results in fast paced change, based on value, in controlled manageable chunks.
“We delivered a digital transformation with a global FTSE 100 company in under a year this way and after three years their competitors still hadn’t caught up.”
Other common pitfalls include trying to “reinvent the wheel”, and not choosing the right people to lead change.
“You can’t do everything at once. When we work with organisations, we look at two key dimensions: the value to the organisation from a strategic perspective; and the fit to standard solution capabilities. We build a strategy then create a roadmap of improvements that delivers incremental change and high value,” says Taylor.
That plan considers the best order of projects, but also the scale of each individual piece of the puzzle.
“Organisations often consider themselves to be unique, which is true and false. Some areas are unique and it is vital to invest in building and enhancing competitive advantage. In other areas it is best to utilise an “off the shelf” best practice approach to extract the greatest value, implement quickly and keep total cost of ownership down.”
Taylor’s parting advice is to put the “brightest and most capable people” on the projects.
“Busy organisations want their best people running the business, but releasing them to support change projects will make a significant difference to success rates.” They are, after all, the future leaders of the organisation, he concludes.