The future of business is digitalisation! So why are 80% of entities failing to fully implement digital technologies successfully?
I keep hearing from business owners across Australia that if they don’t digitalise their business, then they will lose their competitive advantage. They know that when businesses transform their operating models, they can:
- Improve business processes and capabilities
- Innovate and transform the products and services they offered
- Change and often improve their customer’s experiences and
- Deliver results that drive strategic business changes
Over the years I have seen so many digital transformations fail because of bureaucratic IT departments or upper management decisions that seem to force high level software products onto staff, only to then have staff circumnavigate the system and implement or reinvent processes that focus on their immediate needs.
So how can you be one of the 20% who successful digitalise their business? Here are my top 4 tips that are guaranteed to reduce work around, engage all stakeholders and delivery awesome results.
- Nominate Digital Champions
To truly implement a successful digital transformation, you need digital champions within the organisation that prompt and promote technological advancement. We have seen so many transformations fail due to loss of momentum or lack of support being offered from leaders.
But where do you find these champions?
Digital champions come in many different forms:
Some champions show discontinuous learnings which enable them to implement fast and large digital changes. They will often establish narratives that encourage and foster digital solutions instead of fighting against IT advancements. These individuals are open to the potential the IT application has, are willing to adapt to team roles, love collaboration and take many risks.
They will often look to solve problems that cross many departments and in doing so will incorporate a number of project teams. They make sure there is a high level of stakeholder engagement when it comes to delivering key learnings when implementing digital products, which in turn reduces the risk of failure.
Alternatively, sideways champions will implement small changes that are closely aligned with existing practices. While these small ideas may not look big or disruptive on their own, when combined with 2 or 3 other small changes they can become monumental. While this practice is often slower to implement, it is done so at a pace that suits individual employee’s learning curves. It focuses more on the end User and their experience which often leads to faster and stronger adoption, and ensures the digital solutions longevity.
Regardless of the implementation style that your Champion has, he or she must be a person who loves to challenge themselves and sets the project as a priority.
- User Engagement is Everything
Whether your User is an employee or a customer, their engagement is paramount to a successful transformation.
Think about it. Why should your staff be able to order a meal from a mobile food service provider digitally, but must complete a paper dispatch advice when they are at work?
Your employees know that there are digital solutions available in the marketplace and they are often the best source of knowledge when it comes to what your competitors may be using or how the business process might be streamlined by a digital solution.
Knowing this, management need to implement bottom up solutions that evolve easily, are rigorously tested and deploy effortlessly.
These solutions need to empower employees and remove any barriers or mindset that have the potential to derail the project. For example, the digital champion needs to empathise and educate Users who may believe that they will lose their jobs if they do not digitalise, or worse still that technology will replace them outright.
Instead show the worker that the using digital applications and systems has mutual benefits.
Once your solution has been agreed to, make sure that your training is not ‘formalised.’ Honestly, nobody likes 3 day training courses that are mandated before system access is even granted. Instead studies have shown that by having direct employee involvement within a project produces 66% more engaged, with employees learning 25% faster.
- Agile Project Delivery
IT projects are renowned for being agile (ie small and fast software adjustments which are frequently deployed.) This delivery model allows for compressed cycle times, whilst delivering the highest level of User experience in the most cost effective and scale-able way. It also allows you to fail fast, acknowledge the mistake, fix it and learn from it.
Unfortunately, agile deliveries can only be gauged as successful if realistic IT expectations are identified, validated, priorities and bench marked. These digital pinpoints (or KPI’s) must offer a tangible improvement to the workplace’s performance. It can’t be to implement a tech solution for the sake of having a tech solution. Similarly, it is hard to return an industry average of 17.8% return on IT investment if you are bench-marking your success against non-digital historical business performances.
Instead try bench-marking in smaller increments like weekly or monthly milestones, by using smaller data sets that enable you to quickly change your scope to capture a “bigger bang”.
Don’t forget to record and monitor the User’s experience across the life cycle of the project. Gauge their responses via scorecards, workflows, incentives alongside monetary savings made by the efficiencies. Return on IT investment can no longer be calculated purely on cost benefits alone.
To truly delivery an agile project, the project roles and responsibilities will need to shift from rigid organisational structures and instead cross different functional teams. This allows for greater individual empowerment, decentralised findings and better decision making that benefit the whole business.
With information being more accessible today, and a lot of super exciting tech becoming more and more available, it can become easy to be blinded by the ‘glittering lights’ which can cause you to deviate from your original path. That is why it is becoming more and more critical that you never forget your why.
- Shift your thinking
We really need to move away from thinking that digital transformation is only an IT problem.
No longer do you need large teams of software engineers, or bulky on premises hard drive storage as part of your IT investment. Instead off premise or cloud-based storage facilities are becoming a smarter way to reduce your IT budget and commitments.
Why not utilise existing tech (ie SaaS platforms) and practices and incorporate them into your routines? Sure, existing packaged applications may only fill 70% of your business needs, but they are a great way to softly introduce digital technologies to your staff and business processes and help start the conversation.
Then be bold! Investigate moving from business as usual solutions to emerging disruptive technologies to help reshape your business model.
Start to build relationships with other entities such as small business or startups to help you mitigate risks. Startups are a great way to keep you ahead of market developments, as well as being able to remove the siloed departmental approaches when it comes to digital transformations.
Always remember while you should always think big when digitalising, you need to start small and scale fast. Digital projects are guaranteed to fail if you make the project too big and complicated, utilise too many competing technologies, assign too many personnel, vendors or custom applications and most importantly don’t listen to your end Users. Instead shift your thinking, remember your why, engage and empower your staff, find your champion, fail fast and most importantly enjoy the journey because you will be rewarded.
152HQ transforms businesses through digitalisation. We are a nationally recognised team that is passionate about implementing digital systems that not only improve business efficiencies but also disrupt how people perceive IT projects. Contact the team today to see how we can transform your business. 152HQ/contact-us or 1300 965 192
The information contained within this blog is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own situation and legislative requirements before making any decisions.