Walk briskly this way…tips to avoid a stressful digital transformation
Updated: Sep 16, 2022
Within companies focused on commerce, the term ‘digital transformation’, oftentimes, focuses on the front-end platform. However, experience tells us that this is really just the tip of the iceberg. With the variety of new technologies and integrations that enhance the commerce experience, many of these endeavors require departments, vendors, and consultants to work more tightly together to produce as seamless an experience as possible. While choosing the right technology is a key factor in a successful transformation, it is important to not just focus on the technology. It is only an enabler of business processes managed by people. To improve consumer experiences, companies need to know the why, how, and when of business activities and focus on how they will be improved. Here are three (3) things to consider early that can save a lot of wasted energy (and money!!!) later.
Don’t Put The Cart Before Your Data
In a digital world, data is the foundation of your ecosystem. The quality of the data related to your product and services will show up across the multitude of ways the consumer engages with your company. Despite this fact, many transformations will focus heavily on new features and capabilities first while data quality is an afterthought. Avoid this cart before the horse scenario. Do not wait until the last part of the project/program to truly evaluate your product data. Ensure your data supports the desired experience prior to investing too heavily in developing that experience. Conduct an analysis of your data as far upfront as possible, otherwise waiting puts the transformation at risk of missing out on an opportunity to fix inconsistencies while the technology integrations are being built. Investigate data quality, how data moves through the company, how it changes, who touches it and why. You want to have confidence that your data can support the expected experience.
Give The People What They Need
Whether the change is relatively large or small, there are more than just technologies that are being impacted. Entire departments can be disrupted based on decisions that are made as a result of the transformation. Many times, these decisions are not made by the people who work with the systems, thus, there are broad implications to how the business will function in the new world. Start thinking about the impact on people and processes sooner rather than later. Decisions here can impact the consumer experience, staffing and the priority of features. Many times digital transformations usually start with a focus on features/functionality, cost, and timelines with the only change management topic even considered being “ease-of-use”. This leads to adoption challenges further along in the implementation as the real value to all stakeholders and end users has not been unlocked or properly illustrated. Discuss with your systems integrator(s) their thoughts on a change management plan. They may have broad experience that can help. At the very least, they will play an important part in the training and documentation of new functions including a narrative that extols the value of the transformation. This is something that can be built as the features are being developed.
Don’t Manage Your New Ecosystem In Silos
Companies are entities made up of many different departmental and external cultures that may have little experience in truly collaborating in a digital world. While you are spending a significant amount of time and money on a transformation, don’t expect it to be over once you launch. Typically, there is a sizable backlog that contains all the feature requests that did not make the initial cut. Additionally, demand for new features is inevitable as the world keeps changing while you are busy transforming. You will want to hit the ground at least walking briskly. Think about how teams will collaborate in the new world. Teams that own different parts of an ecosystem have a hard time communicating or collaborating. Cooperative processes regulated by SLAs are often mistaken for the level of collaboration needed to accelerate your continued digital adoption. As these silos have different ways to measure their success, requests are thrown back and forth over a wall and progress is stalled. Think about what constitutes a team in your domain, and what outcomes it should be achieving. Then find the methodology that will help that team to achieve the outcome. Invest in what a team means in the context of the work and staff it appropriately. Whether using Scrum, Kanban or some other pattern, start small and work to improve. Not every team needs to adopt the same patterns for all their work.
In short, in a digital age, the act of transforming your company never ceases. To set your transformation on the right course, we recommend
Focus on data and data governance to build a solid foundation for your change
Implement organizational change management to help business enablers to change with the systems
Create high performing cross-functional teams so that talented people can manage the system