As I talk to my peers, one thing is clear. We’re all going through a digital transformation of some kind.
In fact, according to McKinsey, more than eight in ten respondents say their organisations have undertaken such efforts in the past five years.
In the face of technologies like AI, robotics and 3D printing moving at pace, as global organisations, we have to keep up in order to thrive in the future. Transformation is no longer a nice to do, it’s essential for future growth.
As a Chief Transformation Officer myself, I understand the balance of needing to perform in the short to medium term and transform for the long term.
However, globally the success rate is low – less than 30 per cent of digital transformation programmes succeed 1. It’s easy to see why. Customers I meet talk about the perils of buying technology for technology’s sake. How transformation can create siloes instead of solutions. And how easy it is to lose your sense of purpose in a sea of things to fix.
As we go through our own transformation, we look at it through two lenses - customers and employees.
Digital transformation is rewarding fast movers. But as transforming organisations, we also have to be humble enough to recognise that we aren’t perfect and that it will take time to improve. Successful transformation does not happen overnight. And that means explaining to customers what is changing and how it will benefit them.
Looking at your organisation through your customer’s eyes exposes the nuts and bolts, the siloes and the gaps. It can be uncomfortable, but it will also reward you with the areas to focus on that will make the most difference. A report by Forrester Consulting 2 found that “companies that deploy broad-based, customer-centric approaches to digital transformation generate the greatest value.”
Culture is something we talk about a lot in transformation. It’s not just about winning hearts and minds, it’s about our people having a deeper understanding of what the future success of our organisation looks like and understanding their role in making it happen. Skills and capability play a part - as one customer recently said: “A fool with a tool is still a fool”, but it’s also about helping them rethink their role in terms of their impact on our customers. We over-engage with our people about our transformation, taking them through each focus area and helping them get excited and engaged.
If your employees are your future, then data is their currency. Having access to the right information is important, but equipping them with the right tools and insights will enable them to make impactful decisions for your customers.
Transforming for growth
Yes, transformation is about growth. But it is also about having the right architecture for the future. About being prepared for a new age of competitors, many of whom we’ve not seen yet. It’s no longer enough to transform just to achieve a simpler ecosystem or a more efficient performance. It’s about rethinking your business with your customers at the forefront.
In Argentina, where they are used to ordering ice cream for delivery to your door, large Consumer Packaged Goods providers are having to rethink their distribution strategies away from the convenience stores we might expect in Europe.
As global organisations, is what we’re doing today enough? The answer is likely to be no: we all need to be even more ambitious, digital, and truly transformational in order to stay competitive now and in the future.