Since the dawn of the I.T. age technology vendors have been promising solutions to an ever-increasing array of business challenges. To be fair, computerisation has radically changed the nature of work and the whole shape of industry sectors. I remember having a discussion with the CIO of a well-known, Bristol based, life insurance company who remarked that, if his system was taken away there weren’t enough people and quill pens in Bristol to write out and manage the number of policies they had on their books.
But, for all the changes we have witnessed, there remains a significant element of frustration at the challenge in getting the most out of our investments in IT. In our last blog, I wrote about the need for vendors to stop “talking tech” and communicate in language that business people understand. That would definitely help, but there is another, more fundamental challenge. Both vendors and end-users base their selling and buying decisions on some dangerous assumptions. Vendors know the customer has a problem they think their solution addresses, but they assume the customer has, or will have the sort of perfect environment their solution is predicated on. Customers assume that the proposed technology solution will fix the problem without any changes to their existing processes and procedures.
The gap between the two sets of assumptions is “the miracle happens here”.
This debate is far more than the old chicken and egg situation you might have heard applied to a new SAP implementation…
“do I amend SAP to fit my processes, or do I make my processes fit the way the standard SAP solution works?”
Mobile and web based apps, rapid development and deployment capabilities and the global reach of the cloud and underlying interconnect capabilities, offer real opportunities to transform your business models and become mature digital organisations.
The 2015 MITSloan Digital Business Global Executive Study carried out in conjunction with Deloitte found that 66% of companies who were in the early stages of digital transformation lacked the skills to help them conceptualise how digital technologies could impact the business. To put this into context, the Nuffield Trust report on Delivering the Benefits of Digital Health Care suggests that, “becoming a digitally enabled health care provider is not about replacing analogue or paper processes with digital ones. It is about rethinking what work is done, re-engineering how it is done and capitalising on opportunities afforded by data to learn and adapt.”
I have written previously about the importance of carrying out a strategic review of the business before starting any transformation. The MITSloan report makes the point that 80% of digitally mature organisations have a clear and coherent digital strategy, compared to only 15% of companies who are in the early stages of digital maturity. It goes further to state that; these less digitally mature organisations tend to focus on individual technologies and have strategies that are decidedly operational in focus. In the most mature organisations on the other hand, digital strategies are developed with an eye on transforming the business.
Coming back to my original point about the place where the miracle occurs, it is not so much about ensuring that business processes are changed or enhanced to make the most out of new technology, though this is still important, it is about that ability to see how technology can help you transform and become a genuinely digital organisation. Both the technology vendor and the customer need that ability. Even then, you will sometimes need to find that person, or organisation, who can conceptualise and articulate that opportunity and act as a bridge between the two parties.
We have helped a number of organisations, large and small, to understand how technologies can help transform their businesses.
If you are finding it hard to understand the tech jargon and can’t see where these new technologies might take you, we can help you paint the picture.
We’d love to hear your digital transformation experiences.
Use the comments box below to tell us what works and what doesn’t.