“You can no longer simply produce great products and services and expect to succeed,” asserts a report from Forrester It continues, “In a post-digital world, your business must also collect and analyze data to help design and deliver great digital experiences that create value for your customers.” In Part 1 of this article, I discussed why so many analysts insist industrial age organizations must transform themselves into a digital enterprise. In this article, I will discuss some suggestions that have been proffered to help companies successfully transform. The Forrester report notes that commitment at the highest levels of an organization is absolutely essential for success and that the same commitment must be permeate the entire organization. It explains:
“Without a unified approach to digital transformation, teams like marketing, ecommerce, business units, R&D and IT all vie for digital leadership and compete for digital resources. In an attempt to solve the challenge, some CEOs hire a chief digital officer (CDO) with a remit to champion digital transformation. But CDOs are no silver bullet. Indeed, to succeed as a digital business, every part of the organization must adopt a digital mindset and learn to collaborate in service of customers.”
Spandus Lui (@spandaslui) explains that obtaining organizational-wide commitment could be difficult because “digital transformation” remains a vague concept. “Digital transformation, she writes, “is a term that gets tossed around a lot these days. It’s often associated with claims that organizations must undergo a journey to become truly digital enterprises if they want to remain competitive. Sounds vague as hell. So what does it really mean to be a digital enterprise?”
Defining Digital Transformation for Your Business
As I explained in the first part of this article, the reason digital transformation remains vague is because digital transformation means something different for each business. Defining what digital transformation means for your company is the first of nine “rules” identified by PagerDuty, an enterprise incident resolution service. PagerDuty analysts insist in order to be successful your company must “define what is right for your team/organization. Digital transformation requires an established communication path and orchestration across teams. Digital transformation requires more collaboration and bringing data, process and people together. Look for tooling that facilitates this dialogue.” Tom Goodwin (@tomfgoodwin) suggests a company needs to think big when defining what digitization means to it. For too many companies, he writes, “New thinking has been something to process, not a new core of opportunity to ideate around. It’s as if managing a slow decline into their retirement was their aim, not unleashing potential to propel their businesses into the future.”
Assess Where You Are and Evaluate What You Need
Even if you do a wonderful job of defining how your business needs to change to thrive in a digital world, it doesn’t mean you will know how to get from where you are to where you need to be. First, you need to be honest about where you are. Making that assessment is the second thing PagerDuty analysts suggest a company must do. “Take stock of your operations,” they write. “Assess what you have done well and determine areas that need improvement. Acknowledge the existing culture and people, identify who needs to adapt, and communicate why. Again, this is a process of bringing data, process and people together.” Once an initial assessment has been made, PagerDuty analysts suggest companies evaluate what they need to succeed. “Do you have a process in place,” they ask. “You’ll need to find ways to streamline workflows, define instead of inherit urgencies and alerts, and automate wherever possible.” Ben Stobart, vice president of marketing and portfolio in Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa for BT, agrees companies need to evaluate whether they have “the technological capability to execute new digital strategies. … You will need to know what your ecosystem is capable of delivering.”
Crawl, Walk, then Run
Although Goodwin asserts “virtually all companies are doing digital transformation wrong,” because they are dabbling with it at the edges of the enterprise, PagerDuty analysts believe an experimental approach will help companies get their implementation strategy right. “Create an isolated learning environment,” they suggest. “This needs to be a place of collaboration where there are no failed experiments and your team can manage what matters.” I’m not sure Goodwin would agree that an isolated learning environment is the correct approach. At Enterra® we suggest clients use a “crawl, walk, run” approach that incorporates proof of concept projects that can be tinkered with before scaling them to embrace the entire enterprise. PagerDuty analysts agree. “Don’t feel the need to boil the ocean,” they write. “Digital transformation will never happen overnight so start small and enact change wherever possible. Adjustments, even minor ones, add business value and build a foundation for major transformation down the line.”
Digitization is all about connectivity — connecting all corners of an enterprise, connecting with products, connecting with suppliers, and connecting with customers. PagerDuty analysts observe, “Digital transformation is a moot point unless you have a clear connection to customer value and pain. Think deeply about why your organization needs to be more fluid and agile; draw on customer touch points and use cases.”
Implement the Right Technologies
PagerDuty analysts observe, “While tools alone can’t enable digital transformation, they are important parts of the process. Integrating new tools can jumpstart major change — try making things easier on yourself by aligning tooling with what you already have across your operational modes.” As I suggested in the first part of this article, one tool that will be essential for almost all digital transformation efforts is cognitive computing. I say that because cognitive computing systems have capabilities that can be used by almost every part of an enterprise.
The digitization of the business world is going to be even more disruptive than it has been in the past. Sue Marquette Poremba (@sueporemba) observes, “Digital disruption affects the enterprise by forcing a wholesale change of existing processes and technologies or in creating entirely new operational models.” PagerDuty analysts conclude, “Every business wants to build a modern operations environment; every CIO wants to drive business transformation, often through digital transformation; and every enterprise wants to find a way to overcome the agility-stability paradox to thrive.” Goodwin adds, “If you do what comes easy for you, what comes reflexively to you, you’re actually doing a disservice to your company, your shareholders and your employees by leaving them vulnerable to disruption. You’re either retooling to create your future, or you’re just hanging on — I know what I’d rather do.”
 Spandus Lui, “What Does It Mean To Be A Digital Enterprise?” Lifehacker, 2 September 2016.
 PagerDuty, “9 Rules for Digital Transformation in the Enterprise,” IT Business Edge, 2016.
 Tom Goodwin, “We’re at peak complexity — and it sucks,” TechCrunch, 3 September 2016.
 Paul Mah, “The age of digital possible,” CMO Innovation, 12 August 2016.
 Sue Marquette Poremba, “The Digital Disruption Revolution,” IT Business Edge, 29 August 2016.