‘Digital Transformation’ has become one of the hottest buzz phrases in the business world. Explicably, it’s driven by the rapid evolution of a plethora of modern digital technologies, so much so that organizations now understand digital transformation at times to mean the wholesale deployment of such technologies as the magic bullet for the problems plaguing their businesses.
This issue is aggravated by the accelerating pull and push of various external and internal forces acting on a company, e.g., Customer Expectations, Competitive Pressures, State of Current Operations and Legacy Technologies, Strength or Quality of the Organization’s Culture and Leadership, Employee Capabilities and Expectations, State of Regulations and Compliance, Shareholder Activism, and General Business Environment.
Despite all the transformative change that’s sweeping the business landscape, there are a few things that have not changed and, in all likelihood, will not change, i.e.:
- The clearer the business purpose, the higher the chances of an organization’s survival and success. The quality of an organization’s leadership strongly influences business purpose.
- Stripped down to its barebones, a business is nothing but work being performed through a set of related activities or tasks (collectively called a ‘process’) to meet specific key objectives that are driven by the business purpose.
- Depending upon the degree of automation, that work (or process) could be performed by people or systems.
- Regardless of who performs the processes, they are present in and drive all business areas.
- Processes generate data.
- Data leads to insights that can influence business purposes that, in turn, can affect the design of business processes. This inter-relationship can ultimately lead to an ongoing virtuous cycle of process influencing data which in turn influences process.
Business purpose, and not the readily available suite of digital technologies, should be the driver of the “why” of an organization’s digital transformation agenda. Having established or redefined the business purpose, that “why” could then turn out to be around improving one or more of customer experience, productivity, employee experience/performance, costs, profitability, governance, compliance, etc.
Having established the “why” of the digital transformation agenda, there might be an urge to jump headlong into selecting and implementing cutting-edge digital technologies to address the same, e.g., AI chatbots for improving customer experience. However, a crucial intermediate step that should not be ignored at any cost is understanding the current processes and data about the issue. In striving for business excellence, both ‘process door’ and ‘data door’ must be used as complementary analysis approaches to derive holistic insights about the current context and make robust decisions about digital technologies and associated interventions like people capability uplift, culture building, organizational redesign, operating model changes, marketing & sales transformation, or similar initiatives, that are duly accompanied by well thought out change management.
Given the significance of processes and data in the survival and success of an organization, there must be a laser focus on and appropriate investments in managing all the process and data lifecycles in an organization. Both processes and data are critical organizational assets that must be handled, like customer relationships, business finances, employee well-being, and regulatory compliance.
Organizations that can attain a state of equanimous and virtuous cyclical balance in the management of their processes (Yin) and data (Yang), will be able to truly realize their digital transformation nirvana as the “integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers“.
Satish has over two decades of C-Suite advisory and execution experience in delivering sustainable outcomes for Financial Services clients globally through Strategic Transformation Design and Management across Business, Technology, Finance and Operations domains.