The days that IT simply supported your business are behind us. Most organisations today are working very hard at aligning their information technology with their business needs. Meanwhile, that technology has already evolved to a stage where it requires IT to be highly integrated with your business. Thus, IT becomes the nervous system of the business. Proving, as it turns out, that the real challenge of digital transformation lies not so much in adopting the new technology as in transforming your existing business.
In fact, when adapting to the new realities of business (or The New Normal, as some prefer to call it), getting these new technologies on board could well turn out to be the easiest hurdle your organisation will be forced to take. For let’s face it: change management remains first and foremost people management. And as is usually the case with these big transformational projects, changing people’s mindsets and behaviours, in the end, is where the real challenge lies.
What is perhaps most surprising or challenging about all these emerging new technologies, is the speed or acceleration with which they seem to arrive on today’s scene. And if the American inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil is to be believed, even further acceleration is to be expected. Extending Moore’s Law, which states that processing power for computers will double every two years, Kurzweil proposed his own ‘Law of Accelerating Returns’, according to which the growth of technological progress tends to increase exponentially. The vast majority of large companies and the society itself are struggling to adapt to the new pace of information technology. This explains the increasing tensions around digital technology and the gap that is widening between the native digital organisations and the classical ones.
The main thing to keep in mind is that, although technology may be the driver behind all of these shifts, ultimately that technology has to serve your business. That is why it is paramount for you to figure out your business strategy first, before you even consider investing in anything, let alone a paradigm-shifting new technology. The cost of misalignment between your business and the information technologies you implement, and use is high. There is no such thing as a ‘best’ technology anyway: every new technology you adopt, needs to be adapted to your specific business challenges and goals.
Any attempt at digital transformation should therefore be guided by your broader business strategy and take into consideration the vision, the culture and the values of your company. Your digital vision and strategy, should be strongly supported by top management, with clear, simple, and quantifiable objectives. The implementation should follow simple rules, follow iterative patterns, with a dynamic roadmap, and should be clearly focused on the value created for your customers.
Last but not least: since the effects of digital transformation are sure to impact all levels of your organisation, it is absolutely vital that you take on a holistic and transversal approach to this profound change process. In that respect it is equally key to have all the necessary people on board: from your employees to your partners – not forgetting your customers, of course. You can read more about this particular aspect of digital transformation in a previous blog post