The road to Digital Transformation is dark and full of terrors…

The road to digital transformation is dark and full of terrors…or so many would have you believe…

It’s true that today’s organisations face more challenges than at any point in history, which will influence the approach to transformation. Understanding which are and are not important based on how they will disrupt the future is an important first step on the digital transformation journey.

The “Era of the Customer”

Customer Expectation

We are in the “Era of the Customer”. The expectations of today’s consumers are governed by their personal experiences interacting with B2C businesses who deliver a customer experience designed to mitigate the competitive threat, prevent churn and build loyalty. Their nimbleness coupled with a desire to utilise new technology as a business enabler ensures they meet the demands of the digital consumer. Forbes recently published their Top 10 predictions for Customer Service and Customer Experience through 2018. It’s clear that as customer knowledge about what good service looks like increases, customer flight and with it profit erosion, is a real consequence of not meeting those expectations. Engaging with your customers and offering where possible a personalised experience will continue to be a strategic imperative.


The Pace of Digital Change

The pace of digital change is accelerating. The number of new technologies emerging to disrupt business processes increases daily. The challenge to understand and incorporate appropriate technology into the enterprise becomes more and more complex. The problem often feels too big and accepting the status quo is inevitably the consequence. The status quo comes with significant operational wastage, underpinned by information wastage which in turn has a large financial impact. It is as important to know what you are not going to do as it is to know what you are going to respond to. How do you make that assessment? How do you then build the strategies and tactics needed to integrate the most relevant technology into your organisation? The Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies is a great resource to begin to identify what’s coming that may impact how you operate. Do you have a strategy for AI, Virtual Assistants, Machine Learning, Bots, Blockchain?

Gartner Hype Curve


Are you Curious enough to spot what’s coming?

A lack of curiosity prevents organisations from hearing the weak signals which indicate future market disruption. Unable to spot how technology will impact business models before it is too late, these businesses are prone to profit margin erosion. Curiosity is a rare human value, even more rare within the corporate value environment. Without curious people, eager to understand how technology innovation will impact the current business ecosystem, enterprise organisations, who are already struggling to keep up with the pace of digital change, will flounder and die. It is estimated that 80% of Fortune 500 businesses will no longer be in that elite group within 3 years, due to their lack of curiosity. By the time weak signals become strong signals, it is too late, disruption is upon the market and the un-prepared are most impacted and businesses fail.

Curiosity requires time. Time is a rare resource in most enterprise organisations. Adding new headcount to create more time is not the answer. As large organisations grow, they inevitably leave behind a trail of inefficient and ineffective processes. Manual intervention creates waste; double data entry, human based quality assessment, paper-based processes, lack of integration between systems procured at a point in time to solve a specific problem relying on extract, transform, load processes, inappropriate communication with decision makers leading to decision paralysis and prioritising change based on the size of the project. Removing waste, and specifically information waste, is how time is recovered.

Curiosity values are rare; only 11 of the 128 documented human values are associated with it. Enabling this behaviour within your organisation is going to be increasingly important.

Digitalisation of Core Processes

Digitalisation of core processes is a requirement if competing in the digital economy is a strategic goal. This is also a requirement if profit margin erosion is to be protected against. On average, industry will be prone to a 31% loss of profit over the next 3 years due to the impact of competitive digitization of processes; and the need to digitize core processes is such that if this is not on the agenda, these organisations may as well shut up shop.

Profit Erosion

Knowing where to start is challenging. Within the enterprise; a complex system consisting of many people interacting with many processes using many tools and systems, starting transformation in the right place can be the difference between success and unsuccessful internal investment. Investing in the wrong area at the wrong time, without knowledge of the benefit to business outcomes prevents transformation. Where will you invest your most precious resource; people, time and money with high confidence that this will produce the valuable results you require? The Six Building Blocks to develop digital capabilities; Strategy & Innovation, Customer Decision Journey, Process Automation, Organisation, Technology and, Data & Analytics are expertly explained in this article by McKinsey. The digital revolution has created an interconnected world which tightly aligns customers, employees, managers and systems together offering incredible opportunities for organisations who want to take advantage of this; who see opportunity rather than complexity.



It is becoming accepted that redefining the purpose for which an organisation has data and the business value that is enabled by it, leads to a greater understanding of how the monetisation of data and information assets can be used to drive new economies. “Infonomics” – information economics –  requires you to understand all about your data so that you can identify what you have, what value it delivers and what new outcomes could be fuelled by it; to move from “just using information to weaponising it”. In his book, Doug Laney of Gartner explores the justification, inspiration and execution of monetising your data; the barriers, frameworks and roles associated with managing data; and the quality, value and economics related to measuring the impact of data. This new knowledge, applied against the opportunity presented by the digital economy provides us with the chance to do something truly ground-breaking.

Data to the rescue!

This ever-changing landscape including rapid technical evolution, complex environments, significant numbers of people with personal goals intersecting the corporate goals, limited budgets, and the ever-growing competitive threat enabled by the very technology struggling to be adopted within the enterprise, requires a new approach to ensure future business success.

The common element to managing and appropriately reacting to these pressures, is knowing your data. Data is the fuel which drives all business. The lack of understanding of the data need within the business creates a black hole of understanding which amplified the impact of the pace of change needing to be responded to.

Knowing where your data comes from, why you have it, where it is stored, how long it is stored for, who gave it to you, the permission associated with its usage, who accesses it, which processes it drives, who it is shared with and most importantly, which business outcomes it enables provides the opportunity to understand everything you need to know to successfully prioritise change within the business to ensure ongoing success. This Information Supply Chain, the flow of data and information through your business in support of business outcomes, delivers new knowledge of where and why transformation is needed to respond to the new Digital Climate.

The Information Supply Chain view, is typically unknown within organisations. It can be mis-construed that it is only about databases, so if I know where they are, I know where my data is. The reality is that business data is everywhere, and it is more fundamental in crossing the Digital Divide than most appreciate; packing slips, good returns, website registrations, internal pay processes, HR records, financial transactions, filing cabinets of staff details, spatial data, fixed and digital asset registers – data is everywhere…

Once you know where and how your data flows and what it does for your business, you are immediately provided with deep insights into the pain points which exist in your business and this allows you to make accurate investment decisions; you will know where you should apply your people, time and money resources to enable transformation within your business. Specifically;

Capturing & Communicating EvidenceYou will see all of the activities that people perform as they use data and information to create new data and information – now you can understand which activities are necessary, and which aren’t. The result – people stop performing tasks which add no value to the business and use this time where it can add value. Learn more about this here.

You will see the place of systems within the business, as providers and stores of data and information, but also as the tools people use to perform their daily work. Now you can see which systems are fundamental to meeting your business outcomes, and which aren’t. The result – better system investment prioritisation and strategies for integrating key platforms or migrating systems to take advantage of technology innovation. Learn more about this here.

You will immediately answer data and information security related questions; what data do I store, where is it stored, which outcomes does it support, what permission do I have to use it, is there personal data involved, do I share data externally, can individuals be identified, do I know who I have to contact in the event of a data breach, are all of my critical systems encrypting data and secure against cyber-attack. The result – your business governance tier no longer has hide behind ignorance – it can proactively take control of the strategic direction of the business and ensure customer loyalty through robust data management which ensures compliance to local and international laws. Learn more about this here.

You will understand the efficiency, or lack of it, of your business processes and the data need of each process. What you do becomes contextualised against everything else you do. The data enabling business processes is exposed – against who and what is involved to enable outcomes. The result – you can now begin to understand the value of your data and information asset and monetisation of your data becomes a possibility. Learn more about this here.

You will have a standard language with which you can communicate across your business to ensure that everyone understands. Most importantly, you will be able to communicate the evidence to support your investment needs to your decision makers. The result – your governance tier will quickly be able to support accurate decision making which enables the right actions to take place at the right time, delivering business value.

As you begin to understand the internal and external pressures which are driving your need to transform the way your business operates, coupled with new knowledge about how data empowers your decision making, it may be that transformation de-mystifies and becomes actually about managing well-understood, well-bound, well-articulated, well-formulated, well-invested and well-resourced incremental change…and it’s not so terrifying after all…