Top 5 Reasons why Digital Transformations can Fail !!

By Sairam Bollapragada & Rajesh Mohandas

Digital has been the heartbeat of the emerging technology forums and every second evangelist can talk for hours together on the benefits various industries, sectors, functions etc.… can derive out of Digital.

This note is an attempt to portray top 5 reasons why Digital Transformation(DT) journeys fail based on learning experiences of real time case studies and suggestions on measures that need to be proactively taken to be successful…

  1. Digital Definition : DT may mean different things to different people in senior management, depending on the role they play. It is evident from CXO studies that CXOs today take a very different approach towards DIGITAL; while the CIO and CTO are more technical to digitalization,  the CMO and CEO see it as business while the VP Sales may see it as new revenue channels. dt2The result is spectrum of variances in expectations and ambitions within the company. Some convergence is necessary to drive the scope and its applicability to an organization.

Suggestion : Establish a common DIGITAL DEFINITION across the organization and connect the definition with the objectives every unit in the organization can relate to and carry.

  1. Upskilling of workforce : It is no wonder then, that many traditional skills are now facing obsolescence. To put this in context, the latest report titled “The future of jobs” by the World Economic Forum cited that on average, by 2020, more than a dt3third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today.

 Suggestion : Workforce includes all, not just the IT folks. While IT teams can enable bring the technology solutions to the table, the SMEs should look at explosion of up-skilling in their skills distribution reflecting on the critical dynamic of  “Digital catch-up” and potentially improved economic inclusivity. Business leaders, educators, and policymakers observe that we now face a massive digital inclusion challenge  and everybody needs to transform and upskill/re-skill themselves. (https://itservicesdelivery.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/the-digital-era-learner-re-wiring-your-skills/)

  1. Lack of ownership : Digital Transformation (DT) efforts should be all prevalent and not limited to just a few focus groups or techies. Even though the CxOs can call upon teams to help drive adoption, it does not mean in any way that the adoption is somebody else’s sole responsibility. dt4The maturity lies in each and every unit in the organization to realizing that the DT journey is mandatory to their very survival – nothing less. Most misses result from the fact that “this is not my responsibility”

 Suggestion: To succeed, every person and unit in the organization should agree and understand that each of the them need to evolve for survival and hence share equal responsibility for the overall DT journey.

  1. Shun Big Bang Approach : Every organization wants the digital spread to be quick and now! It does not mean you need a big bang approach of a centralized guideline or Digital playbook and then wait for it to pass through several internal champions and unit heads. dt5This approach of roll out has rarely worked fast. Organizations must get the independent business groups/units to understand that “Change starts with you”..

Suggestion : DT journey is more about bringing the fit-to-purpose ideas between Domain and technology. A careful consideration of divide-and-rule with sufficient degrees of freedom provisioned to each Independent Business Grups/Units following a continuous improvement framework will be the best way forward.

  1. Hyper efforts in creating lab with eternal PoC mode: We see that organizations have started being so blind-sighted making their labs that they seem to be stuck in time. Sometimes the solutions are found not to leave the lab forever – keeping stakeholders guessing. Culmination of innovative prototypes can be only called out ONLY if it hits the markets and finds a customer base. dt6An eternal POC mode, builds a perception that either organizations are not confident of their solution or are lost.

 Suggestion: Fail and fail fast! That mantra works. The labs cosmetics to impress potential to-be clientele is colossal waste of time/effort/energy. Clients refuse to be enchanted by the show and feel of real estate. Solutions speak for themselves and the organizations capability to deliver outcomes and most clients are aware. Help clients co-create solutions to their specific needs and the earlier you come to this state, the better is your hold on the potential client – even if it means fail fast a few times.

While there can be many more reasons to add to the above list, the basic insurance against these would lay a foundation to cover other “Don’ts” like some want to scamper onto the analysts quadrants to prove how digitized they are, some may still be wading through the haze of their digital objectives, some may try to copy from what has worked for others without proper fit-to-purpose analysis, some may lose sight of their current differentiators to create new ones to cling to the market, etc.

However, set of failure points will vary from organization to organization and so will the remedies. However, it is proven that Digital is an inevitable transformation journey for organizations to survive and sustain themselves in the market. The maze they can traverse will decide the destination and destiny!

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Sustainability in the Digital World: Do’s and Don’ts

By Sairam Bollapragada

While the entire humankind is going ga-ga over the word Digital, there still seems to be much struggle around organizations in creating a Digital transformation blueprint/value and adopting the same quickly.

This note is an attempt to bring to table salient features of becoming Digital relevant in true spirit and deeds. Let us take the points, one after the other:

  1. Goals and Objectives: An Organization should ask itself if they have a dossier which explains to all its employees what Digital means to their business. It is not mandatory that all aspects of Digital should mean something to you. Pick the relevant ones which are critical to your business and get started on the transformational journey.

 

Organizations should get aligned to their clients (both current and potential) on how they can leverage your Digital capabilities to strike a chord with the digital needs of their clients as well. Hence the sales teams should understand the needs and current capability. In fact they should be the first agents of the change to bring to table the digital market needs and hence what we need to nourish as capability.

 

The upskilling is the next most important action. Since the entire demand is moving towards Digital, your upskilling plays a strategic role. The two cannot be misaligned considering even the short term requirements.

 

  1. Adaptability: Your strength to react to the changes in market demand is very critical if you need to be seen as the early adopters in the market . Understanding the market conditions and demand fast, acting to invest in a skilled workforce faster and be the first implementers is essence – which all sums up to reflect on how Agile you are as an organization. You may have to ruthlessly clear the clutter or legacy clingers who can become a challenge to the road to transformation. This will also help your perception in the market and make your sales teams to approach the market with that much more confidence. Unless you up your risk antennas, the conviction will be missing in your commitments. The challenges are greatest learning tools which prepare you to handle bigger commitments. Hence create a risk taking culture that thrives on innovation and experiments.

 

  1. Change Management needs to be carefully crafted out of a network of sources which should become your strongest source of drivers in enhancing your objectives of Digital transformation. Change. When inevitable has to bring in objectivity to avoid chaos. In the Digital space, it pays you richly through both internal and external partnerships. Co-creation is a critical component of this Change process. Please refer my earlier blog: https://itservicesdelivery.wordpress.com/2016/12/05/digital-transformation-looking-outside-for-a-change-agent/

 

  1. Congenial Work Environ: The culture of clinging and hugging often seen as threat to change, is led by folks who don’t want things to change as it reflects their insecure mind-set. Millennials must be provided a platform to bring in fresh ideas through their out of box creative minds. They don’t carry any baggage and hence you can almost always expect a fresh bag of ideas. Once you encourage such an environment, ideas will flow automatically. Let the owners of execution incubate these ideas and convert them into compelling propositions for their clientele. The more fresh ideas you take to clients, the more your probability as being perceived as a leader in the space. Remember perception management is also very critical across the ecospace. Strategic initiatives cannot be allowed to be held ransom to the feudal mind sets of folks obsessed with large teams. The question then to them is – how would you embrace the upcoming digital twins in your workforce.

 

  1. Focussed Teamwork aligned to Objectives: In the services business of annuity, we seem to understand a lot about value creation. We try and demonstrate through our PIPs (productivity improvements), CoD (Cost Of Delivery), etc. However, with the advent of Digital and Automation, the client’s expectations have gone exponentially wild compelling all service providers to think radically different. Hence the above point 4 holds that much more water. Most persons facing the client needs to come across as your digital brand ambassadors (if not all). The approaches you position to the clients should prove your thought leadership. Often the rift between what is sold and what is delivered leaves a bad taste with the clients. This is a true reflection of what lack of orchestration within the teams. Hence your need to align all the teams to speak one language of offerings-capabilities-capacities to establish credibility.

 

Last but not the least, every Digital customer is looking for uniqueness in the solution being delivered. So please be very cautious before you replay a plethora of offerings while you showcase your might.

VUCA in the Digital world!!

VUCA in the Digital world!!

By Sairam Bollapragada & Rajesh Mohandas

Across the globe, all are now connected in unprecedented ways. This is both a boon and a bane, where we live in an era that is transforming and setting stage for the next revolution. Times when we were disconnected and every country operated in silo the challenges were limited to the internal affairs and the near border conflicts only.

With technological advances where today we look at a bright and secured future on one hand, on the other hand the unrest continues and is growing bigger day by day, conflicts, civil unrest, terrorism, ransom ware, cyber crimes, etc… are now integrated into our daily life.

The digital reality is shaking up some of the beliefs and compelling us to move to a more knowledgeable IT economy what with automation and AI which were limited to books, have finally come to the open challenging how that can transform every space of the life. Soon all white-space is expected to be filled with cognitive behavior and techniques. Automation is forcing re-wiring of skills for many of the IT workforce (read : https://itservicesdelivery.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/the-digital-era-learner-re-wiring-your-skills/ ) spelling end of the careers if not done.

Hence one can relate to the 4 key parameters of VUCA : Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. Each of these factors are challenging the order of the day stuff and hence the need to cope with the same in the turbulent times.

The compounded problem statement with external influencing factors from market pressures, competition, shareholder expectations, stakeholders, are strong indicators, to the fact that the leaders will need to be hard wired to resilience.

The role of the leaders managing workforce, will be crucial and critical in shaping the digital future of any organization.  Most of the requirements to support a digital environment are not about the technology per se, but it is also about creating the environment to re-skill, create flexibility to be agile, adopt to changing demands, and groom the right talent for a safe digital future.

Let’s take each of the parameter at a time to see what it means in Digital world:

(V) Volatility: The nature and Dynamics of change that is blowing across the landscape mandates catalysts to adopt to these changes. The legacy of efficiency and productivity will no longer continued business anymore. Disruptive innovations are indeed unsettling dominant industries in today’s world. Hence the times call for compulsive innovation and a drift away from SOPs.

U (Uncertainity): This is a factor which reflects the lack of predictability and many surprises. Another indicator of this is the refusal of the current technology wave to move easily beyond the labs. The ever-experimenting mind-set is also reflecting that the solutions themselves are prone to obsolescence, from the very moment they are conceived with high degree of unpredictability.

( C)Complexity:  Multiple parameters built into the character of the issue spells complexity – be it chaos or confusion-led issues.

Complexity can also reflect multiple influencing factors which can unsettle easily. Complexity is good or bad depending on your strategy. Having a bullet proof strategy is impossible – nevertheless one should have a solid strategy to counter complexities and challenge the same.  Even if it comes with short expiry date (2 years) you should have one.

Digital space is getting more and more complex with each passing day rolling out a new platform, new innovations coming to light, new solutions offered, disruptive models coming to life, etc. Hence to deal with all these changes, a strategy for managing this change is mandatory and thus the

(A)Ambiguity : The fact that we only know 40% of how technology will fold into the lives and markets as an influencer, is a true reflection of haze in the Digital space. This then raises the question of business risk, which is quite a reality today.

At various levels of an organization, there are ambiguities relating to progression and growth, whether at organization level or career levels of professionals.  Except for the lexical meaning of the Strategic and Tactical approaches, the lines are thinning out.

Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity will continue to exist but what leaders today can do is to play a vital role and attempt to control the levers by moving in to a Hyperawareness zone of informed decision-making, and fast execution. Winning in the Digital Vortex is not just about algorithms, architectures or innovative business models; it requires organizational change and workforce transformation. And successful transformation is enabled by a company’s digital business agility, building on the fact that people are an organization’s most important asset. Hence, everybody is but compelled to think on the forward thinking strategies to adopt to the Digital VUCA scenarios….