2016: Is this the Year to “Go Digital?”

When an industrial giant like GE starts to move all your health data into the cloud using their new Predix cloud offering, you sit up and take notice. It’s clear that “digital” has gone well beyond Facebook and Google+. What does this mean for the enterprise?

The consumerization of IT means many of us have been acting and interacting in more digitally sophisticated ways at home and in our social circles than we do at work. In fact, in some cases, enterprise computing has lagged behind personal computing when it comes to the digital revolution. No doubt the scale of any decision to “go digital” is fed by considerable investment apprehension. Many large enterprises believe they can’t possibly act quickly enough to keep up with the steady march of new innovations emerging in the marketplace. This hesitation often translates into lots of talk about technology with little action. Especially when decisions about technology involve a radical change to a company’s way of doing business.

Instead of asking “What are digital technologies?” and “What does digital transformation mean?,” enterprises need to be asking “How can we use advances in technology to create sustainable and market-disrupting value?” Making sense of the dizzying rate of technological change is a matter of looking at it through your own, familiar and trusted business perspective.

In a new white paper, Avoiding the Siren Song of Technology: Focusing your Digital Strategy on Business Outcomes, I explore the ways leading enterprises are taking advantage of emerging technologies and as-a-service solutions to build a “digital fabric” to connect with and influence their customers, employees, partners and providers. By building a digital fabric, organizations can create new digital value in four distinct areas:

  • Digital customer experience
  • Digital products and services
  • Digital supply chain and manufacturing
  • Digital enablement and productivity

Enterprises should only invest in the opportunities that are right for them and on which they can capitalize over the long term. Understanding both the industry and the enterprise-specific market potential of these areas will help individual companies identify the initiatives that lead to the most promising solutions for their unique business objectives. Those that have been successful at traversing this new ground have been so, at least in part, because they have built healthy relationships with partners that bring market insight or help to build capabilities that are designed specifically for their sustained growth.

Read the new white paper or contact me directly to discuss further.

Why defining your Transformation collaboratively can be one of the best business decisions you could make

At the heart of your outsourcing contract is usually the desire to get a better service at a lower cost. However as this article on Outsourcing from Stephanie Overby rightly points out, “….the typical outsourcing contract contains a paragraph committing the parties to develop a plan for transformation — and that’s it”.

If you are in the midst of defining the goals of your transformation, you are likely to face the following questions:

  • Should I define the transformation in isolation, or do it along with the provider?
  • How do I reach the balance between being prescriptive (tell the provider what to do) and looking for a solution (ask him what to do)?


Photo courtesy: Lego

I have achieved my best results by collaboratively defining Transformation. This is one of the unique advantages of an outsourcing dialog.

Be clear about what you want to achieve

  • You should be clear about the business goals of your program – state it clearly so that there is no ambiguity. Avoid buzz words.
  • But do not land into a “paralysis of analysis” – broadly define what you want to achieve and welcome ideas on how others have achieved the same or similar goals

Tap into the experience of your outsourcing provider

  • Ask your potential providers where they have helped other providers achieve similar goals.
  • Your questions should follow this line of thought: “what were these goals, how were they defined, how were they achieved?”
  • The answers to the above questions make sure that you stay in the “fact-domain”.
  • Do not fall into the trap of asking the provider how to achieve your goals – if you do this, you are forcing him to put on his “sales cap”.
  • Assume positive intent. Help your provider to show their technical and operational expertise.

Adapt your transformation approach in an iterative manner

  • Translate what you are hearing to your own situation
  • Questions that you need to ask yourself when you hear something interesting – does it fit? Why does it not fit? Is your situation similar? What are the parallels between your situation and what you have just heard?
  • It need not be applicable in its original form. However, can you adapt it or take pieces of what you are hearing to improve your own approach?
  • As you continue to do this – formulate your approach in greater detail and tune it based on the above inputs.
  • Take a reality check – what were the goals that you had initially defined for yourself and how these have adjusted over time after your dialog with your service provider. Are you satisfied with the changes you made?

Service providers who specialize in transformation do this as a living – and they get to see these situations everyday in varying circumstances and combinations.

Instead of forcing your provider to specify how to achieve your goals early in the game, you should tap into their experience. It is easy to forget this in the heat of the dialog.

How are you defining your transformational approach? Are you doing it collaboratively?

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