Insights on tackling Digital first adoption challenges for business leaders
In our preceding blog, we at iOPEX have emphasized the growing need for digital experience for businesses and how it can be achieved using Digital first engineering as a discipline. These transformations are strategic and organizations failing to position themselves with the future trends by coping with the customer and market needs will lose their competitive advantage. Moving forward, we will cover some of the major adoption challenges faced by leaders and our views on how they can tackle them for a smoother change.
Digital-first execution Imperatives, Barriers & Solutions
Setting up a clear Organization-wide strategy:
Barrier: Most of the core functions in an organization work in siloes and the data available across these functions are also isolated. Before starting with the Digital-first initiatives enterprise leaders should identify where, when, and how to start. These questions can only be answered if the leaders are clear with the objectives or the outcomes that they are trying to achieve through digitization. Doing all these takes a mammoth effort especially when leaders are planning for a long-term transformation plan whose success cannot be measured immediately.
According to the research report submitted by McKinsey, A misinformed transformation strategy and a lack of clarity on the strategy are the two hardest challenges for companies to overcome.
Solutions: As a business leader managing these transformation initiatives should be clear with the following,
- Understanding the scope of the project (main objectives, budget, resources, and deliverables)
- Timeline (short-term and long-term goals)
- Business use cases for the individual functions
- Security and other risks involved
A centralized place with outcome-led strategies and continuously connecting with delivery for better execution is crucial to achieving better transformation while adopting Digital first practices.
Why is it important? If you are a CXO looking to set up a Digital first organization with the goal of providing a seamless digital experience to your users (customers, employees, and other stakeholders), then winning the consensus of your colleagues is highly important in achieving that goal. The end of the change in experience should balance the behavior to change.
Cultural resistance to change:
Barrier: Adopting technologies is perhaps the easiest part once we set the right strategy in place, the most challenging part would be to align the workforce to embrace change with the new digital workplace. Employees feeling insecure about their jobs could lose their morale, which can affect their productivity and performance. Stakeholders who play the role of challengers ask questions like “what if” and “why should we” become a common challenge during these transformational processes. An organizational structural change is also a factor for employees to resist change.
- Change management strategy with the scope of adding value to all the business groups
- Training employees for the new processes, technologies, and practices
- Setting clear objectives for different functional groups, mentioning why we are doing this change through Digital first initiatives
Why is it important?
If organizations need to become truly Digital first, then it needs to understand and deliver what customer wants, and only the employees involved in the different projects can deliver the right data related to customers, hence it is imperative for leaders to make all if not most employees to understand the importance of change towards Digital first adoption.
Availability of quality data:
Barrier: Adoption of Digital first engineering has become an essential part of organizational strategy to stay competitive, especially after the COVID-19 events. But this sudden plunge will not give the desired results if the data used is of poor quality. Most of the customer-centric data are of high volume, unstructured, and sensitive to legal concerns. Data available in silos across different tools spread across functions is another bottleneck for businesses to analyze and interpret information required to executive Digital first initiatives.
- A comprehensive data strategy that provides complete visibility to all the business units is crucial
- Defining the Key performance indicators (KPIs) & use cases clearly and sourcing data required to measure those KPIs are key
- Observability in IT Ops, ITSM, DevOps, and Engineering teams can help to observe data better
- Creating special interest groups between Business units and IT, led by Chief Digital Officer (CDO) or equivalent body.
Why is it important?
User and customer data are available across different devices, omnichannel platforms, and business processes, correlating these data and analyzing them provides the necessary insights to improve processes and provide better customer experiences. All the new-age tools & technologies are effective only if they have the right set of data to play around with.
The emergence of Fusion Teams:
Fusion teams have recently gained immense attention, especially after Gartner called out their importance and the implications, they can bring to organizations building digital native enterprises. Fusion teams also called cross-functional teams that go hand in hand with the agile culture, have been in the picture in most organizations but without a standardized approach.
As organizations are striving for faster and better digital transformation efforts by replacing physical processes with digital alternatives, these Fusion teams will create a huge impact enabling better collaboration between teams. Some of the major advantages of building fusion teams are,
- IT teams are no longer a guilty/bottleneck department as all team members are responsible for delivery, which creates better commitment and ownership.
- The team has all the required information and can independently make more informed and intelligent decisions.
Key qualities to have as a business leader to steer head Digital first initiatives
A leader heading these large transformation initiatives will undergo a huge amount of stress right from the sign-off stage to the final stages of execution, and this could take several years in cases of large business transformational projects.
Financial Acumen: Most of the Digital first strategies fail due to poor budgeting, huge stakes are tied up to all these transformation efforts, hence financial planning related to technology adoption, resources, and scalability are vital for success.
Digital literacy: As technologies evolve, several technology companies are also evolving parallelly, a clear understanding of the latest technologies and the impact than can bring to existing processes and how well they can accelerate transformation is key for business leaders.
Agile and Innovative: All the new-age technologies that enable digital experience involve agility, innovation, and creative thinking to out-try legacy ways of doing business.
Risk Mitigation: Risk associated with data leakage, cyber-security, policies, stakeholder management, change management, cost, etc. should be addressed by paying attention to detail before kick-starting the Digital first initiatives.
Resilience: It takes a lot of energy to change a company's culture. Extreme challenges inspire great transformation leaders, and they are relentless in bringing about change, even if it takes a long time to see tangible results, need that extra energy to stay focused on the goals, celebrate small wins, recognize changes, and remind yourself why you are doing something.
The role of technology partners:
Technology partners offer a great way to obtain access to markets, special skills, tribal knowledge, physical assets, and operational scalability that would simply not be possible for an enterprise that relies on its native capabilities. Years ago, companies could take their time and develop the resources necessary to bring a new product line or service online. Today, not so much. Technology changes too quickly. Missing the first wave of opportunity that accompanies a new technology usually means greatly diminished market potential down the road. Even if you have some skill or capability in-house, partnering usually offers the quickest way to develop an impactful presence in a new functional area or market segment.
Lessons Learned: It is evident that business transformation requires an inclusive effort headed by strong leaders who are strategic-sighted. A customer-centric approach that enhances the overall business experience of employees, customers, and partners can bring long-term results. While changing organizational culture and employee participation are important for transformation, it is also the responsibility of leaders to provide the right atmosphere for that change to happen seamlessly. It is highly recommended to choose the right technology partner which has led such Digital first initiatives in the past.