Internal silos are killing Digital Transformation initiatives, because c-suites are failing to collaborate between strategy, culture, operations and technology.
In more ways that not, embarking on a Digital Transformation initiative is no different that any other strategy an organization will tackle. The right questions need to be asked at the outset (and throughout the process), all stakeholders have to be aligned behind the mission, execution and implementation process must be targeted and measured, and outcomes must be monitored and adapted (or pivoted) as needed.
Struggling to meet your Digital Transformation goals? Evaluate how segmented your efforts are into conflicting silos. You know the ones I am talking about, because they are the exact same isolating management tendencies that preclude growth, evolution and advancement in almost all other aspects of the business environment. When strategy, culture, operations and technology are considered independently, any investment in a significant dynamic shift is futile. These four components must all be in harmony and working toward the same outcome and mission, or the objective will always fail. Layer in the complexities of emerging technologies like Cloud, IOT, AI, ML, Blockchain and Cybersecurity to that equation, and an organization doesn’t stand a chance.
As a strategic advisor, it doesn’t surprise me that success rates with Digital Transformation are so high because organizations and leaders have been battling the broader challenges of collaboration long before technology started evolving so rapidly. C-suites throughout the globe have struggled to alleviate separation between strategy, culture, operations and technical capabilities long before the Fourth Industrial Revolution began. The pace of the ecosystem is simply making those pains more evident.
So what can leaders do to overcome these management tendencies and maximize the massive investments being made into Digital Transformation?
Focus on the four components of strategy, culture, operations and the technology stack and evaluate where there are gaps in shared mission between them.
Below are three recommendations to streamline each:
- Embrace Design Thinking and the commitment to ask the right questions. Most organizations implement strategies that aren’t truly addressing the challenges that the entity faces.
- Focus strategy on proactive disruptions that ensure ongoing improvements to consumer value proposition.
- Alleviate misperceptions about Digital Transformation in the core strategy. The primary concern for employees that haven’t been educated tends to be job loss, but they need to understand the difference between loss and shift. Be clear and frank about what the initiative is meant to achieve.
- Adjust values and mindset to embrace Digital Transformation. Set the tone for the balance of the organization and prioritize alignment of all stakeholders around the vision.
- Collaborate and iterate repeatedly. Silos are the death of initiatives as complex at Digital Transformation. The technology offerings cross platforms and reach across boundaries. The entities hoping to utilize them need to embrace the same mentality.
- Promote continuous learning and back it up with training dollars. Digital Transformation requires that every member of an organization have some sophisticated level of digital literacy if the investment is to be viable.
- Focus on outcomes and modify metrics accordingly. If expectations are the same before/after, the investment isn’t worth making.
- Encourage agility and efficiency in every department, office and location. The ability to adapt and respond quickly to exponential change is critical to success.
- Revamp policies and procedures that encourage (or allow for) fluidity, risk, change and evolution. When big picture objectives are changing, how organizations achieve them on a daily basis has to be upgraded too.
- Engage the right experts to research, invest and transition systems. Starting off on the wrong track is difficult to recover from with technology that is enterprise-encompassing and all-impactful.
- Insist on digital literacy at every level of the organization, especially the c-suite. Not everyone has to be a date engineer or data scientist, but they have to understand the complexities of the technology enough to make strategic and operational decisions.
- Invest holistically, and avoid piece-meal solutions. The most important consideration of today’s cloud offerings like AWS, GCP and Azure is that they inherently layer together and reinforce other opportunities for operational advancement. Know exactly what you are getting into, especially if you demand hybrid solutions.
The takeaway of this article is to encourage decision-makers influencing Digital Transformation initiatives not to be overwhelmed. Admittedly, the technology itself is more advanced than most business leaders have the capacity for, but (a) digital literacy is possible, and (b) the process itself is no different from other transformative initiatives that organizations engage in on a daily basis. There are thousands of diagrams illustrating Digital Transformation stacks, but the four layers the c-suite focus on first are strategy, culture, operations and the technology. Among these, there are no dominant drivers…only collaborators. Integrate between the silos, and you increase the odds of maximizing your investment exponentially.
Seek outside guidance if you continue to struggle.