There are often many expectations behind projects to modernize company processes and drive digital transformation in companies. Expectations that cannot permanently be reduced to a common denominator because every business area has its narrow definitions of transformation and many independent projects.
Suppose you take a look at each department of a company and which technologies they work with. In that case, one thing quickly becomes clear: So far, each department has acquired technology individually for its own needs and then used it for a specific part of the company.
As a result, everything works perfectly in the respective department, and the individual technologies seem indispensable, but software acquired in this way is usually not used across departments. She then works in silos. Installation, configuration, and especially interfaces mean further investments. As a result, companies do not uniformly use the software, but rather redundant, i.e., not as effective as they could.
This brings another disadvantage because due to many different applications, companies spend far more money over time than they would have to with cross-departmental use. Companies invest more time than necessary in maintenance and support than they need for a single, group-wide technology.
If companies become aware of this time and budget-burdening factor in their IT strategy, they mostly begin to consolidate the applications in the company. This then requires integration projects for the existing applications. A point-to-point plan for integration, without actually defining the strategy beforehand, is then the result.
Do the solutions fit into the company’s long-term system? What is needed for the implementation? How do you even start? With these step-by-step instructions, companies receive the first essential tips for creating their transformation.
Define And Prioritize Digital Ambitions
As soon as a company decides to modernize and digitize its processes, the first task is directed at the CIOs. You need to evaluate the current IT architecture and clarify the company’s digital ambitions. This assessment can focus on the entire value chain or a specific business process. Once this step has been completed, it is a matter of formulating the digital ambitions and priorities. Based on this knowledge, a plan is then drawn up to implement the digital transformation, which takes the company’s current and future goals into account.
The first thing to do is to identify experts for the long-term project. They include project managers, IT architects, change managers, integration developers, and software testers. But people from management and departments affected by this transformation should also be able to contribute their expertise. Now critical processes must be identified that are given a higher priority. When digitizing products and services, the focus should always be on increasing customer satisfaction, reducing total cost of ownership (TCO), and profitability.
All information should be recorded in a mission statement, a charter, the overall project, and a project roadmap in which the individual phases and milestones are particularly emphasized. To create visibility and maintain an overview, it is helpful to set up a Digital Community of Practice (CoP). This means a cross-departmental team that follows defined standard technologies, processes, and best practices to manage and support the digital transformation throughout the organization.
Preparation: Define Growth
As soon as a strategy has been defined and all areas and value-added streams have been prioritized, the next step is to “design” the transformation process. It’s always about people, processes, and technologies. Companies should primarily ask themselves three questions: How can “waste of time” be eliminated? Where are the real bottlenecks in processes? Where can technology sensibly automate processes?
Choosing the right technology for digital transformation is not always easy. However, companies should see integration as a central issue:
- An integration platform connects systems, data, people, and processes
- A solution for the preparation and harmonization of all data is important
- Low-code application development that conserves resources
These services and solutions are supported by core technologies such as robot-assisted process automation (RPA), available analysis tools, artificial intelligence (AI) tools, tools for the Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain applications and services. Corresponding data security, both in the cloud and elsewhere, goes without saying.
A successful digital strategy consists of putting together teams and implementing the technology once – because the pace of development in modern companies is determined by agile development processes, which are constantly evolving. To save costs, companies often follow the “do it yourself” approach, which can, however, produce undesirable results and is often error-prone. Companies should therefore consider whether a partner can support the digitization project. This is how you avoid a long-term, multi-stage “waterfall” development with only slow results. Agile development, which typically releases new features and improvements every 15 or 30 days, is becoming increasingly popular instead.
- Development using agile methods
- Take a phased approach
- Leverage A / B test
Organizations should start with areas that pose less risk to the business, not to risk business burdens initially. If the procedure has been successful without any other significant errors, the next step is to plan to train the staff and operations. This goes hand in hand with maintaining the solution and helping to provide a seamless customer experience.
Keeping Up With Change
A successful implementation requires a defined roadmap. With this, companies should under no circumstances take risks but instead continuously evaluate their new environment and adapt the performance of their digital strategy. One way to keep the spirit of innovation alive in an organization is to set up small teams as “innovation labs” and provide them with resources for brainstorming and developing products and services to solve specific problems.
Companies must ensure that such rapid development projects fit seamlessly into the company’s broader digital strategy and react to new market opportunities or competitive pressure.
Continuous Evaluation And Validation
An assessment of the current process accompanies the evaluation. Companies need to ensure that the goals outlined in the strategy are achieved. Here you have to consider the original goals, but separately also the goals of the IT departments, including the creation of frameworks, standards, and best practices. In this step, it is also essential to evaluate the operational goals. The validation ensures that the IT infrastructure and services are as efficient as the company needs to achieve its goals.
In summary, the basis for a successful digital experience is a uniform self-service and data platform bundled with a community of practice. Given the many people, processes, and technologies involved, companies need to build a platform that can provide developers and industry users with reusable techniques and patterns.
By connecting systems, orchestrating data, and creating valuable, smooth processes, corporate processes can be changed over the long term. A larger community of IT and business professionals to integrate and automate workflows will help accelerate the company’s innovations and digital initiatives, avoid inefficiencies and reduce costs.
Organizations need to be able to move data in and out of any application, technology, or device across their entire digital ecosystem, both on-premise and in cloud environments, right down to edge and IoT devices. These connections should be continuously available with low latency and guaranteed scalability.
Organizations need to take control of their data and find, catalog, explore, understand and harmonize all the data they have. In too many companies, the information is distributed across multiple data silos. No one, not even in the IT department, knows where all the data is and its contents. Organizations need instant access to all data, including known and unknown data, so that they can organize, streamline, and use it. Lastly, it must be ensured that the data is delivered to the appropriate parties with the proper governance controls to ensure security and compliance.