What is your company doing about digital transformation? What are you doing about digital transformation?
Digital transformation is not a question of “if”, but a question of “when”. Many industries are going through massive disruption as a result of digital transformation. One need look no farther than the current state of the retail industry as evidence. The retail industry is undergoing massive disruption as the consumer move from shopping at brick-and-mortar stores to shopping via digital storefronts. And it’s not just the retail industry. Retail is just one of many examples, ranging from health care to media to consumer products. Change and disruption to how a business conducts business is inevitable. The way forward is clear – businesses that embrace and drive this change and disruption within their industries will likely survive. Businesses that do not challenge themselves to transform will likely cease to exist.
Do you see change and disruption in your industry? Is your company actively executing a digital transformation strategy? Or are you thinking, “I’m not the decision-maker at my organization. How can I lead digital transformation at my company?”
Regardless of how you answered the above questions, you have three options.
- Do nothing – and watch your company become another statistic (?).
- Watch from the sidelines – and watch your company move on without you.
- Jump in the digital transformation pool – and get noticed as you get involved and make a difference.
Why Companies Are Lagging Behind with Digital Transformation
Many companies are facing challenges as they contemplate digital transformation. What are some of those challenges?
- Legacy Systems – In its Digital Trends Report 2017, Nimbus Ninety found that 50% of those surveyed considered dealing with ‘legacy systems’ to be the biggest obstacle to successful digital transformation.1 Contributing to the challenge is that systems considered to be “legacy systems” are the systems that are supporting current revenue streams for the business. Paradoxically, companies leading in digital transformation are twice as likely to meet revenue goals than those with the least mature IT practices.2
- Lack of clarity regarding business processes – Many businesses suffer from having and using processes that are poorly designed, compounded by being poorly documented. Often, knowledge regarding business processes are “handed down” from those previously in a position, and doesn’t necessarily reflect changes that have occurred as business models and needs have evolved.3 So, while businesses may know what they do, they struggle with the ‘how-do-we-do-it’ question.
- Establishing the digital platform and ecosystem – One of the significant business changes with digital transformation comes with the building of the digital platform and establishing the ecosystem of providers, producers, owners, and consumers. These two changes – the platform and the ecosystem – enable the shift from a supply-side based economy to a demand-side based economy. This shift enables companies to achieve greater scale and more value than what could be achieved by a company on its own.4
The Biggest Challenge – Having People With The Right Skills
One of the most significant challenges facing businesses regarding digital transformation is finding people with the right skill set. A January 2016 study from The Hackett Group found that for many midsized and large businesses, actually finding and sourcing talent having the skills needed for digital transformation is a significant challenge.5 Technical skills, such as digital security, big data analysis, the Internet of Things, mobile technologies, and cloud computing are among the top-needed technical skills for companies entering digital transformation.6
But technical skills are not the only skills businesses need for digital transformation. More importantly, (so-called) “soft skills” are in high demand as well. Skills such as strategic thinking, leadership, systems thinking, organizational change management, problem solving, emotional intelligence, communication, and others are needed as businesses adopt new work models and new methodologies.7
Further confirmation of this critical lack of needed skills was further highlighted in a study8 by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte published in July 2016. This study found that only 11% of those responding believe that their company’s current talent base can complete effectively in the digital economy. The good news? More than 75% of digitally maturing organizations provide employees with resources and opportunities to develop their digital acumen.
Become a Digital Transformation Leader
Want to become a digital transformation leader within your business? Here are four things that you can do that will help.
- Get excited about digital transformation. If you can’t get personally excited about digital transformation, you can’t expect those around you to get excited about it either. Enthusiasm gets noticed.
- Get to know – really know – your business. Cursory knowledge of the organization chart and business functions aren’t going to be enough to be a digital transformation leader. Dig into and map the “as-is” state of business processes – and discover opportunities for transformation.
- Be willing to stick your neck out a bit. Don’t feel like you know much about digital transformation? You’re not alone, so give yourself permission to learn. Be willing to go find and share answers to the questions your business leaders are asking as they are developing the digital transformation strategy. (Hint- your business leaders are likely trying to figure out this digital transformation thing too!)
- Work on those soft skills. To have success with digital transformation, businesses need people who can discuss highly technical concepts in simple, business-like terms. Businesses need people who are not afraid to lead, can see and think in terms of the “big picture”, and can be change agents in helping colleagues make the leap from old to new business models that will result from digital transformation.
1“Digital Trends Report 2017”. Nimbus Ninety. Web. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
2Burt, Chris. “Digital Transformation Leaders Twice as Likely to Meet Revenue Goals, Dell EMC Finds”. datacenterknowledge.com Data Center Knowledge. Web Apr 12 2017. Web. Accessed May 3 2017.
3Tedder, Doug. “Transformation Means Giving Up Control – Can You Handle That?”. The Institute for Digital Transformation. Aug 3 2016. Web. Retrieved May 3 2017.
4Tedder, Doug. “What is a Platform (and Why Should I Care)?”. The Institute for Digital Transformation. Oct 5 2016. Web. Retrieved May 5 2017.
5Dorr, Eric and Scott Holland. “The CIO Agenda: Balancing Risk, Cost, and Innovation”. The Hackett Group. January 2016. Web. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
6Welz, Bernd. “Are You Ready for Digital Transformation?” Chief Learning Officer. CLOMedia.com May 13, 2016. Web. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
7“New IT Skills Needed for Digital Transformation”. Electric Lightwave. February 15, 2017. Web. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
8Kane, Gerald C., et al. “Aligning the Organization for its Digital Future”, MIT Sloan Management Review. July 26, 2016. Web. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
About the Author:
Institute Fellow Alumni
Doug Tedder is the principal of Tedder Consulting LLC. Doug is an accomplished and recognized leader who is equally adept in interactions from senior leadership to day-to-day practitioners. His attention to detail, industry knowledge, emotional intelligence, and the ability to “see the big picture” and make it actionable has resulted in a track record of success in helping IT organizations transform into business partners in value delivery.
Doug holds numerous industry certifications in disciplines ranging from ITIL, COBIT, Lean IT, and Organizational Change Management. An active volunteer within the IT Service Management community, Doug is a frequent speaker and contributor at local industry user group meetings, webinars, and national conventions. Doug is a member, former president, and current board member for itSMF USA as well a member of HDI.