Thoughts on approaching 2020 & the promises of Digital Transformation
In just a short few months the sun will set on this decade and we’ll find ourselves at the dawn of the 20’s. Although a fairly arbitrary landmark, the passing of this threshold has made me take pause for a moment and think back to the expectations that my younger self had about what post-millennium decades would have in store for us, in terms of the advancement of technology.
When thinking about these post-millennium milestones, I tend to cast my mind back to the mid 90’s, the dawn of the internet revolution which kick-started the digital transformation journey many of us are still trying to actualise. I fondly remember this as an extremely exciting time, reminiscing about how it felt staring into the beige tinted cathode-ray tube hypertunnel which became more and more fundamental and commonplace in our lives at work, at school and at home.
As a teenager at the time, poking a prodding at the ‘world wide web’ I remember having a profound realisation – the internet would change everything. I would dream of a world 20-30 years into the future, when my (more or less fully-grown) future self would exist in a predominately digital landscape, with immediate access to information. I used to jest that the medium of print and paper-based information would be mocked as being ‘something like the internet, but made from the trees of our depleting rainforests’ and therefore destined for the scrap-heap of former communication technologies, along carrier pigeons or hieroglyphic stone carvings. I imagined all unnecessary use of paper a thing of the past, replaced by indexed and organized data, living in intelligent systems with automated algorithms at our beck and call to locate any document or information which we needed in an instant. When I fast forward to today, I can’t help but feel slightly underwhelmed at our progress in this area.
Now don’t get me wrong, we are ‘there’, at least in terms of the systems existing and being widely available. However, I regularly encounter large, long standing and successful organisations, still depending on paper for many of their business processes, held back with a kind of inertia preventing digital transformation. In my own career, working with organisations of various sizes and across multiple sectors, encountered a number of companies who have invested considerably in technology to drive digital transformation, too little or no avail.
“Business leaders should first try to answer this very important question; what is digital transformation in these areas worth to us?“
Why can it be so difficult to ‘drag’ these processes into the 21st century? The technology exists and is more than adequate to the task, with a plethora of solutions available to cater for businesses of all sizes.
I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I think that to address this problem, we must shift our focus. Rather than being a technological challenge, I believe it’s a predominantly behavioural challenge. One which can only be properly approached with a ‘change management’ mindset, and a ‘people first’ ethos. If a change management project sounds a little too disruptive or out of reach to you, then it’s important to recognise this as early as possible, identifying if there are any areas of technological inertia within your organisation which may have associated risks, be they with regards to security, compliance, efficiency and cost, or simply having a ‘competitive edge’ in your industry.
With these areas of risk in mind, business leaders need to decide quickly which areas of inertia are benign (and can be left as they are) and which areas or processes contain the most risk or potential benefit. Following this exercise, business leaders and key stakeholders in these areas need to honestly admit to themselves whether or not they have the competencies and expertise to drive digital transformation in-house, understanding also what the cost of this would be, and any potential pitfalls. The areas that remain will be those which organisations must admit they need support with if they want to move forward.
Before seeking support, business leaders should first try to answer this very important question; ‘what is digital transformation in these areas worth to us?’ With this in mind, seek support from solutions providers who are willing to partner with you, and explore these areas collaboratively with you to gain the insight and detail necessary to understand the challenges. Having a ‘Digital Transformation Partner’ who understands your business, its processes and more importantly the people that hold these processes together, can be extremely valuable and mutually beneficial.
As an Innovation Consultant and Product Manager of FileHound, my aim is to approach all of our projects as digital transformation partnerships, be they large or small. There are a few key guidelines we follow to ensure that our projects are approached and delivered successfully.
- Gain enough understanding about current processes and people involved, before proposing a solution
- Ensure that the benefits of change are fully understood and communicated to the right people in the right way
- Choosing the right solutions, and implementing them in the right way – this means putting the users at the heart of the solution
- Ensuring that support and guidance is provided for key people throughout the change process
- Ensuring that we close projects with a ‘sunset model’ having imparted enough knowledge to empower people to support themselves, reducing dependancies on ‘experts’
Is your organisation facing the challenges and considerations outlined above?
If you’d like to learn more about our solutions or our approach, or simply speak to someone about your digital transformation challenges, get in touch with us today.