What exactly needs to be transformed?
For some, a digital transformation (DT) is like trying to manage chaos. How do you even know where to start? While for others, they presume a successful digital transformation is nothing more than a technology upgrade.
Yet, to be truly successful, DT requires a fundamental change in the way a company conducts business.
The ALE DT evolution
When I arrived at ALE as CIO in Fall 2017, it was to focus on the evolution of the company’s digital transformation. My goal was to take this innovative technology company on a journey that would make it a role model for its channel partners and customers as they seek out their own digital transformation efforts.
How do you reach the full potential of a digital transformation, particularly when righting the ship of a nearly 100 years old company? Hopefully, your business isn’t too engrained for change but it if is, seek out a change agent. Then start by recognizing and understanding what exactly needs to be transformed.
As I mentioned, the goal at ALE is to be a role model, so we took that and led with quality as the key to differentiate us from our competitors. To ensure that the digital transformation of our business and the levels of quality became strong company assets, we created a Digital Transformation & Quality organization, which was built around product quality, customer experience and the company’s operating model to maintain simplicity and efficiency.
These changes then helped to reshape how the organization viewed technology and its direct impact on the business. Because simply adding new capabilities, like choosing an analytics application or expanding your customer relationship management system, is not a digital transformation. But digging deeper, for example, to ensure information is available, accessible and useable via any device and location, gives your organization a means to reinvent processes, technologies and products that drive performance.
Enter the Digital Factory
The idea behind creating a Digital Factory team is to focus and support the business on standardized technology. By this I mean providing a single approach and system to complete tasks that help the business scale operations at the lowest possible cost. Keep in mind, it’s not about a specific technology platform, it’s about an organizational view of technology. And of course, this resonates in the IT department. But what about the rest of the company and the average employee?
Be the agent of change
Guiding an organization for a digital transformation undertaking can be challenging. Most companies have an embedded culture, which can mean a slow change. Queue up the change agent factor because this is where asking “Why?” comes into play. The change agent holds a non-bias to the past… and is a cheerleader for the future. What happens next is the answers to the “Why?” reveal shortcomings in organizational culture and this can often be one of the main barriers to a company’s digital future success. This is the point where it becomes a crossroad for leaders to create a digital culture to move forward.
Reinforce your new digital culture
What reinforces a new digital culture, you ask? As with any company initiative, applying a vision often starts at the top and requires a trickle-down approach. Getting managers to support digital transformation will ensure your business evolves to its highest potential. The role of the manager should be to make decisions quickly, empower their team to develop new skills while also implying on employees their role in promoting a new digital culture. You may even want to create a small, agile team which works in fast cycles on projects that improve the business.
At ALE we created the Digital Studio. It is where small temporary teams join-together to tackle specific topics with the target to create maximum value as quickly as possible. Supply Chain Transformation was Digital Studio’s pilot project aimed first at improving customer delivery to support our customer experience targets. Without going into too many details, the conflict we heard was that customers said our deliveries were not as timely as our systems showed. The culprit? Software. Because software can be delivered almost instantly, this data was overshadowing the additional time it took for the hardware to arrive.
The Digital Studio increased the accessibility of all data of the full process. For example, we integrated the stock level data with customer orders. This small enhancement saved a ton of time analyzing the unsecured order backlog. This helped the operations team to focus on their job and avoid losing time with data manipulation. In the end, addressing the issues improved the on-time delivery by 15%.
What is your digital goal?
My best advice to any business on their digital transformation journey is to do your best to have a clear idea of your company’s digital ambition. This will help measure progress, see successes and challenges, all while shaping the culture of your business.
In November 2018 I’ll be sharing detailed findings and future insight at The Digital Transformation and Technology summit 2018. Take a look at the event to help further assess how you company should evolve to extract the most value from digital technologies and business models. You could gain a digital strategy roadmap and be ready to make transformation happen in your company! https://www.platinumedgegrp.com/digital-transformation-and-technology-summit/
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This is a true story about ALE. It’s a story about our digital transformation experience—where things got stalled, and what it took to succeed.