Digital transformation is a company-wide transformation at all levels. It is a cultural change that makes all customer-facing departments operate more independently and makes the company more willing to experiment. Digital transformation is also an efficiency program that uses digital tools to recoup costs, at least in the medium term. Moreover, it is a central element of the corporate strategy that will determine the future market position. For this reason, digital transformation is not a question of "if", but of "how" and "when". All companies should critically question what they have achieved so far and set the course for a systematic approach.
1. setting the "digital ambition"
At the beginning, the potential digital developments of the industry and the role the company wants to play in them from now on must be considered. To do this, a picture of the business and the customers of the future must be created. What needs and expectations will customers have in terms of products and contact channels? How is it possible with the help of digital technologies to improve, for example, service and contact quality as well as lifecycle management?
To quantify the digital potential, the future revenue sources along the value chain must be analyzed. This also includes looking at the opportunities and risks in the new competitive environment. The full potential of the future digital enterprise results from the relative competitive advantage and the geographical reach divided by the maximum global market potential.
Furthermore, the economic goals must be defined. Due to the wide range of possible digital projects, clear strategic priorities must be set. The topics of self-financing through increased efficiency, quick successes and high visibility for customers and employees as well as the preservation of competitive advantages should be balanced.
2. creating a digital roadmap
Now it is a matter of implementing the defined digital projects in the respective teams in feasible projects. The dependencies between the digital priorities and the so-called "enablers" must be considered. First of all, a digital platform is required for the fast and direct exchange between the knowledge carriers of a company. For this reason, not every prioritized task can be tackled directly. In many cases, the necessary prerequisites must first be created.
Once the sequence has been determined, the first work objectives can be defined: Which points should be done on one's own and for which are partners indispensable? After that, concrete project goals and milestones as well as responsibilities must be defined. In this phase, it is also important to make the necessary resources as well as the required financing transparent so that the cost-benefit ratio of all measures can be verified.
In addition, a roadmap is needed that shows the development of digital competences. This should also include the know-how that is to be acquired through partnerships, acquisitions and joint ventures.
In contrast to the "digital ambition", which is directed towards the future and therefore often blurred, the digital roadmap is about feasible intermediate steps in the corresponding direction.
3. building a digital operating model
In the next phase, the digital transformation requires a suitable work organization that constantly evolves as digitalization progresses. The CDO team oversees the digital initiatives as a project office, whereby the initiatives are carried out by the normal line organization. The role of the CDO and his team is to plan the capacity building, provide the digital methods, monitor the progress of the project, and provide assistance. With these measures, the digital transformation becomes part of the company's everyday life. In the best case, the digital initiatives act as nuclei that gradually carry digital thinking and the agile culture into the entire company and anchor them there.
One of the key strengths of digital companies is speed. In addition, there are always new experimental initiatives. For this to work, the critical decision-making processes must first be accelerated. These must be streamlined wherever digital processes are affected. Thus, operational units are given greater room for manoeuvre and will organize themselves more and more in the future.
The digital roadmap needs a clear budget and human resources. These need to be made available over a longer period of time and regularly reviewed and adjusted. To ensure ongoing reassessment, fixed assessment approaches for digital business cases need to be developed and applied. Such an evaluation takes into account both the strategic aspects achieved and efficiency improvements, i.e., cost reductions. Basically, it can be said that without financing and planning security, digital initiatives will not progress.
4. program for the further development of the corporate culture
Many employees feel threatened by digitalization. In most cases, however, your job will be enriched by digitalization and jobs can be secured as a result. For this reason, it is important that the digital transformation is discussed intensively with each employee through personal conversations, for which all managers must take time. If, for example, the digitalization strategy is only announced by the CEO via a video, the message usually remains incomprehensible. If employees make enquiries with their direct superiors, they are usually unsuccessful. This leads to growing uncertainty among the workforces. In order for the digital transformation to be successfully implemented, it must be well communicated at all levels of the company. Therefore, it is important that roles and responsibilities are defined, priorities are clarified, and the coming changes are discussed in detail, from top management to employees. Communication should not only be top-down but also bottom-up. In this way, fears, concerns, implementation ideas and practical experiences reach the higher levels from the grassroots. This approach helps to constantly optimize the program. This model must be constantly monitored so that black holes in the information chain can be identified, and remedial action taken where necessary. In digital projects, it is essential that feedback loops are carried out at all levels, and that there is constant testing, experimentation, and re-evaluation. Therefore, direct communication of the group at the round table or via suitable IT platforms is very important. In this constellation, the role of the manager is less about technical leadership and more about a coaching function. In the future, the work will be determined by self-organized working groups and new working methods, which are known today mainly under the term "agile". Here, the CDO has the task of searching for suitable methods and qualified trainers with his or her employees and finding his or her own way.
Independent support from actesy
actesy makes complex data simple. If you need support in creating your digital strategy, we will be happy to accompany and advise you in this process. Actesy can score points as a completely independent consultant with over 30 years of IT experience. This independence is due to the fact that actesy does not sell any business software but is itself only active as a data orchestrator and integrator. The experience from a multitude of different IT projects helps in the creation of a digital transformation strategy.
actesy AG was founded as an HSG spin-off to democratize data access to any system and to enable cross-system data orchestration. actesy is a complete integration and data orchestration framework that connects and orchestrates data and systems regardless of the data source and the underlying technolo