We are living in a new world dominated by a massive flow of information generated every hour, every minute, every second and from a multitude of sources. The last few years has exposed organisations to huge waves of information on digitalisation.
The volume of information on digitalising businesses has been immense. At times, this information could be overwhelming, leading organisations to a state of “paralysis”. At this juncture, they should take a step back, to demystify and simplify their path forward.
Most organisations, if not all, by now are convinced on the upside of innovating and digitally disrupting their processes and customer experiences, to scale their business. They could engage with a proven partner to jointly embark on this journey. But that should not prevent them from moving their initiatives forward on their own, in the immediate term, while selecting a partner in the short to midterm.
So where and how do organisations start their digital transformation journey?
There are five basic phases to help organisations commence. These include ideation, qualification, market pretest drive, market test drive and launch.
The “Ideation” phase starts with having several open minded discussions across employees, suppliers, customers and partners. Through a series of workshops, ideas get identified, that could improve revenues or cost across business units, products and service lines. These ideas or digital initiatives should have a potential for massive impact. While capturing ideas within the company, look around for innovative new processes or experiences that could be adopted, both from within the industry as well as across other industries.
Through repetitive workshops and innovations, create a shortlist of ideas or digital initiatives that will improve processes and experiences. In the “Qualifying” phase there could be a high buy-in from several stake holder across business units. While one may be inclined to accommodate all, it is imperative to stay focused on prioritising and qualifying not more than 3-5 initiatives, depending on their size and complexities.
Validate the qualified digital initiatives by undertaking a “Market Pre-Test drive”. More often than not, ideas and initiatives that worked well during the workshops and on the drawing board, don’t get through the ranks in the real world. While this may seem discouraging at first, it is important to stay focused on selecting only those initiatives that have successfully passed the “Market Pre-Test Drive”. The “Market Pre-Test drive” could be conducted within a controlled environment in-house. Alternatively a virtual digital experience could be created, along with a partner, in their digital laboratory. During this phase, recreate the customer’s digital experience while validating fitment to the existing technology or IT platform. Also understand and assess the impact of on boarding any new technologies.
Organisations may well be left with 2-3 initiatives that will progress to the next phase. At this stage, another shortlist of initiatives could be qualified, again limiting it to five. At times, what maybe unnerving, is an idea which seemed unrealistic, at first, could well be the one that qualifies for the “market test drive” phase.
In the “market test drive” phase, the digital initiatives should be tested in a predefined and sampled real life environment. The market test drive should focus on contextual interactivity to analyse and measure how customers are interacting with your products and services.
For instance a bank could market test drive its new digitalised initiative for its online retail banking, by launching the initiative across its employees in a specified geographic region or even limiting it to a predefined set of employees. Or a retail organisation could market test drive its new customer loyalty initiative with its employee only.
We can learn from the proven “agile methodology” used in the IT world, to deliver state of the art business solutions, by following an iterative process of capturing requirements to drive higher levels of adoption. This iterative process would help reduce the risks associated in the launch phase.
In the “Launch” phase, successfully tested digital initiatives are introduced to the real world. While multiple initiatives can be launched at the same time, it is crucial to capture the customer’s decision-making and purchasing journey. Over a period of time there could be dozens of initiatives within an organisation, each following its own launch and maturity cycle.
In the present era, the impact of digitalisation far exceeds the investments. To create a disruptive impact and gain unprecedented competitive advantage, you need to start now.
The writer is the Executive Vice-President of Dubai-based TransSys Solutions. He can be contacted via Twitter @Stephen_Fdes