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Digital Transformation Burnout? Here’s Why and What to Do to Set it Right
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By Aviviere Telang
The “next normal” we find ourselves in has only underscored the fact that organizations must develop the ability to rapidly respond to changing market conditions. Almost overnight, digital channels became the primary way for organizations to meaningfully engage customers, their partners, and their employees. Many were caught off-guard, or ill-equipped to react as they struggled to address this sudden shift.
However, for all the energy and investment organizations place on their digital transformation agenda, surprisingly 70% of organizations stall or slow in their transformation efforts.
How can this be? Why is digital transformation so much easier to envision than it is to execute?
The perfect storm is upon us
Three broad factors come to mind:
Continuously evolving the digital agenda – As organizations pivot to experience- and service-oriented business models, their digital ecosystem will have to continually expand to meet the demands of an ever-advancing digital agenda.
Unprecedented scale of transformation – IT is no longer the only one at the epicenter of these forces of change. Increasingly, Lines of Business and enterprise functions are challenged to respond in lockstep with the evolving agenda.
Incomparable speed of market – Customer expectations, industry trends, and market requirements are changing at an accelerating pace. As Antonio Neri, CEO of HPE, likes to say, “the future belongs to the fast.”
Any one of these factors, when take alone, are challenging enough to address at enterprise scale. Combine all three, and you suddenly have a perfect storm that is quickly separating winners from losers in each industry segment’s marketplace. In fact, we have now arrived at the point where even the disruptors (like Uber) are getting disrupted.
So how are incumbents to respond? How do large organizations re-energize their digital transformation efforts, speed-up their execution, and accelerate their time-to-value?
The nature of the beast
Digital transformation initiatives – by their very nature – are CX-driven and service-oriented. As a result, they typically demand greater cross-functional alignment and commitment (between lines of business, enterprise functions, partners, etc.) than digital optimization initiatives.
A leading reason why digital transformation efforts stall in execution is inadequate alignment and commitment between the business and technology teams. This inserts unforeseen risk right into the execution path and ultimately derails the digital initiative.
Now, let’s expand our view to the organization’s entire digital agenda. This evolving agenda likely contains numerous digital initiatives, many of which are critical to the digital capabilities of the business. At enterprise-scale, the unforeseen risks are amplified due to the complex web of dependencies and interactions between disparate digital initiatives.
In 2020, organizations were thrust into a world of uncertainty. In the early days of COVID-19, many CEOs were cutting cost to preserve liquidity – and the literal million-dollar question being asked by senior leadership was, “What are the minimum-viable digital initiatives we must double-down on now to respond to the next normal, and what initiatives should divest or pause to conserve cash?”
Turns out that was, and still is, a very difficult question to answer, even for senior leaders. What is the downstream enterprise impact of pausing or cancelling a digital initiative? Which strategic business priorities are affected by the initiative? Which lines of businesses are impacted and how do we mitigate those risks? What digital capabilities will the business lose? Can the business afford to lose them?
On the other side of the equation, for initiatives that do need to be accelerated, what are the enabling or foundational initiatives and pre-requisites that will need to be fast-tracked? What are the cost, resource, and timeline impacts to fast-track those initiatives? What design or execution sprints do we need to initiate now in order to accelerate the launch?
Far too many organizations grapple with these considerations because they have yet to define a well-coordinated digital execution strategy that orchestrates critical digital initiatives at an enterprise-wide scale, and, at the same time, clearly defines the alignment of an initiative to business outcomes. Coordinating initiatives within a department, where management priorities are shared or similar, is straightforward. Orchestrating initiatives across business units, enterprise functions, and technology teams is very challenging – primarily because each group brings competing business and technology priorities to the table. What’s more, maintaining that strong coordination against the backdrop of an ever-evolving digital landscape is particularly arduous. But it doesn’t have to be!
De-risk your path to value-realization
Using the Digital Next Advisory framework, HPE Digital Advisors recognize that in order for digital initiatives to work in aggregate, they need to be aligned. The advisors can help you co-design a digital execution strategy to help sequence and orchestrate your program of digital initiatives across business and technology silos, drawing out the unrealized interdependencies, pre-requisites, and blind spots that exist between initiatives, and even identify opportunities that will accelerate the execution of the digital agenda.
Using the simple, yet powerful visual methodology of the “Align Moment,” senior leaders and decision makers will see their digital agenda come to life and get tangible line-of-sight into the complex interactions of their digital agenda at enterprise-scale. Our visual models also articulate the alignment between the digital initiatives and the corresponding business outcomes they influence.
One of four “Moment” types, the uniqueness of the Align Moment is its ability to flex its methodology and/or structure to address execution challenges of varying size and scope. The format and structure of the Align Moment is purpose-built to bring disparate teams into a highly collaborative, co-design session that accelerates the execution of digital initiatives and de-risks the organization’s path to value realization. Armed with this level of deep insight, senior leaders are far more confident in their convictions as they navigate the uncertain waters of the next normal.
In a future article, I’ll walk through the methodology and structure our Digital Advisors leverage to run an Align Moment.
Aviviere Telang is a Global Digital Advisor and Solution Strategist at HPE. Driven to build the next generation of digital experiences, Aviviere builds innovative solutions and approaches that accelerate the digital transformation agenda. Increasingly critical to a digitalized economy, Aviviere’s current focus is on the large-scale orchestration of enterprise-wide digital initiatives that advance an organization’s digital ambition. Aviviere has spent more than 12 years partnering with organizations around the world to execute on their transformation agendas in the digital edge, IoT and workplace domains. He holds an MSc in Electrical Engineering, and an MBA from the Ivey Business School in London, CA.