8 Steps that will Teleport your business to a better world
In a recent parody on Digital Transformation challenges, our marketing department put together a Star Trek themed message on the hazards and pitfalls of developing and acting upon digital transformation strategies. In point of fact, the Star Ship Enterprise flew around various galaxies with nary a scratch pad of paper. The crew and various aliens seemed none the worse and I expect that the future is a good place to start.
The process and the vision appear to be tangible and so very intuitive when one considers the futuristic advances in space. Of course, in the future, we will not do things this way anymore! In the present; however, and particularly in business, each inch forward seems arduous and each change is fraught with the anxiety of letting go.
Why is this, considering that each day in our personal lives (as consumers of digital transformation) we are reminded of how readily available technology makes our lives easier. Email purchase order or confirmation? Of course. Remote deposit? Why didn’t we do this sooner? E-signature for documents? Duh. Self-help portals and automated problem resolution? Cloud based applications and data bases to expand the reach and productivity of our workforce? Bring it. E-Learning solutions for our new hires? Yes. Predictive replenishment and services? Thank you. Machine learning for marketing data analytics? Of course. Smart IoT Tools for tracking and maintaining assets? Easy. Yes. I love one click shopping and will really love it when I can look at the item and buy it.
But change doesn’t come easily and sometimes gets stuck in indecision. I am reminded of a company we work with who happen to be a very large Financial Services industry leader. The CEO 4 years ago boldly proclaimed that “In 3 years, we will have 80% of our operations oriented business applications in the cloud!” Indeed a bold and aspirational goal. 4 years later, less than 20% of these applications reside in the cloud. We see many businesses starting and stopping and pushing the proverbial rope when it comes to important digital transformation. What is to be learned and how can you make faster progress?
This is not a new phenomenon and organizations will continue to talk about this for at least the next 227 years. 227 years ago, Alexander Hamilton in his ‘Report on Manufacturers’ presaged this: “Experience teaches that men are often so much governed by what they are accustomed to see and practice (sp), that the simplest and most obvious improvements, in the most ordinary occupations, are adopted with hesitation, reluctance, and by slow gradations. The spontaneous transition to new pursuits, in a community long habituated to different ones, may be expected to be attended with proportionably greater difficulty…To produce the desirable changes as early as may be expedient may therefore require the incitement and patronage of government.” The last 5 words are the most important. If you represent the government in your business, you are responsible for both the incitement and patronage. So, here are 8 straightforward steps that will help teleport your business into a transformed digital future:
The Indian philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti, reminds us “Transformation can only happen immediately; the revolution is now, not tomorrow.” Don’t put off this effort begin it now because you know many of your customer and business processes need to change. Start and keep the effort as a high priority.
Have a plan. Commit it to writing. Consider ALL of the stakeholders and involve them in the conversation. This is NOT an IT initiative. A Deloitte and MIT Sloan study has concluded that only 15% of companies have a cohesive plan and that impedes results.
Identify and define the core processes where this transformation is to occur: Employee facing processes, Business facing processes, or Customer facing processes. Start with one focus area and learn as you go.
As Alexander Hamilton reminded us, give the effort the ‘incitement and patronage’ it deserves. The effort is going to take time. The effort is going to cost money. The effort is going to require a prioritization of effort. Know that this is an important investment in organizational differentiation. Amazon and Apple want to have exemplary customer experiences and the buying public knows that.
Have the courage of your conviction. Tell all of your employees and stakeholders what you are trying to do. The same Deloitte MIT Sloan study shows that progressive, digitally fluent companies attract better talent. Use the effort to its maximum advantage.
Be relentless and strive for inches. Take what you can get. Each small change moves your entire organization into the future.
Prioritize all processes that you can agree intuitively or from benchmarking competitors; “We won’t be doing business like that in the future.” Start where you can align emotions with strategy.
Share all successes with all of your stakeholders. This will amplify the progress and allow you to stay focused and build momentum.
What we learn in these efforts is that transformation is never a digital transformation but that it is a natural organizational transformation that works to make our customer, business, and employee interactions as frictionless and efficient as possible. The ever developing set of off the shelf technological tools lets us do that.
The year 2022, is the climactic year prophesied in the 1973 Science Fiction Thriller ‘Soylent Green’. This is only 4 years from now and 231 years from the lessons that Alexander Hamilton taught us. In Soylent Green, NYPD Detective Thorn (Charlton Heston) investigates the murder of big company CEO in a world ravaged by the greenhouse effect and overpopulation. His investigation leads him to the factory where the generic ‘Soylent Green’ food source is produced; the same food source that every human on the Earth is eating. At the dramatic conclusion of the movie as Thorn is being carted away by the movie’s villains, he screams out the startling conclusion of his investigation…
“Soylent Green is PEOPLE!”
Stay focused on the fact that all of your changes and transformation happen with and through and for the benefit of PEOPLE – not the digital transformation per se – and you will end up in a better world.