Going Digital: Preaching Vs Practice

Digital Transformation : Preaching Vs Pratice

While search through the offerings of any business globally, one could find that, DIGITAL is a common, magic jargon attached to anything and everything; irrespective of product or service. Rightfully, everyone is aware that, absence of digitalization of services or products will eliminate them from the market; sooner or later. While this sentiment is strong in the market and in the minds of business and technology leaders, do the organizations “do justice” to what they “commit” to the market?

Though, the enthusiasm for digital transformation (DX) is definitely on the rise, its also true that, the pace is far away from what is required to hit the targets. The references from a survey published in last Feb reveals that, the digital transformation strategy is in place (only) since last 2 years and the achievement on the focused / prioritized areas is under 20%. Mckinsey had also published similar results in their surveys. The common finding is that, the “pace is not enough” to make significant strides towards digital (or business) transformation.

Well! The Consulting mammoths like Mckinsey and BCG have already published the best practices or X Steps to implement or practice digital transformation. I am definitely NOT going to quote those here. The points are somewhat different and related to some basics.

DX is a huge change to an organization. It can be achieved through drastic upgrades in organization structure, technology, methods, processes and tools. When the strategy focuses on business; i.e., to make the solution attractive, attract more clients, promising them faster turnaround time in terms of deployment, service delivery, availability and performance, many organizations miss to have a retrospective on how “digital” are their internal processes and what is the level of “automation” implemented in there etc.

  • Does the soapy marketing stuff you put on the sales presentations on digitally driven services or products are really digital internally?
  • Are these digitally transformed products and services being just legacy under the hood of some skinny digital looking stuff?

Then, you definitely have a problem in hand. Sooner or later, the services will cripple and it will be extremely difficult to touch them to change. So, what will be the root cause of this? In my opinion there are three basic things (which of course can be stripped down to many other points)

  1. Absence of bottom to top approach in implementing DX
    The DX Strategy, rolled out by the top management with an outward look on the business (naturally),. They device the strategy and pushed it down to the organization without having any proper awareness or education to the people on the ground. I am not saying that, the decisions need to be completely democratic; but definitely it should be participative and empathizing with those who drive the core of the business. A simple example is an Operations function which take care of the hosting services for a particular product or service. Even if the product is Digital native, if the operations people are not enabled with right tools, resources and processes to manage the product, the targeted digital transformation will be some what hypothetical or something remain on the paper. The end customers would feel that way, for sure. Very soon
  2. Extremely complex and dreaded organizational bureaucracy
    Think of a government office in Kerala, India, where you the customer walks in with an application for a new service. Forget about the courteousness of the civil servant; but it is sure that, you will be driven up and down for umpteen times to different levels of management hierarchy in that department for approvals. And I bet you that, for 50% of those approvals, you, the customer might have to follow-up too. The internal workflows never work as it supposed to be!
    Well! What this has to do within a modern digital organization? There are many resemblances. In the modern organization, there will be beautiful workflows where the processes are supposed to be run. There will be approval authorities as well. Imagine the frustration of a customer facing manager who waits for getting the needed infrastructure for days, weeks or months before it gets approved by the top C Level executive! The traditional approval hierarchy and bureaucratic workflows slowdown the whole process and kill the purpose of Digital Strategy. You are definitely going to have endless headaches on your way, if you keep this kind of organization structure where even for $100, you get the top-level approvals (despite that is pre-justified in the Deal P&L)
  3. Lack of automation in internal as well as external facing processes
    This is the baby of the above two points. The dreaded manual processes, procedures and work instructions! You say it’s digital and you need one or many people to do it every time you need it? You are in the wrong path, for sure. Its not scalable and it will finally explode at some juncture when a high business volume hit the service.

The True Digital Transformation lies in drastic change in organizational culture; top to bottom. Unless the basic things above are unaddressed, the digital strategy will be having a premature death despite the money thrown on it in elsewhere areas.

“Work on the basics”

  • Educate your workforce on the change, prepare them to positively react to the same and enable them for transformation with the right tools and processes
  • Work on your traditional hierarchical organizational structure and change them to agile
  • Automate all your manual processes, procedures and work instructions. Use the human brain for something innovative

Clean your own house before you offer cleaning service to others.

Practice what you preach.

Written by
Sethunath U N

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