Digital transformation is now a matter of routine in organisations across industry sectors. However, with the recent revolutionary changes in AI driving significant shifts in the way we live and work, digital transformation programmes are back in the spotlight now. For top leaders, it is imperative to assimilate this rapid pace of change and leverage it for their organizations. Embracing the right changes could lead to substantial impacts, propelling them ahead of their competitors.
What might have to change?
Over the last decade, digital transformation programmes have meant creating a central team of business analysts and strategists who identify areas of improvement, capture data from the business transactions, and run layers of analytics to aggregate, analyse and draw insights from the data gathered from both internal and external sources. Also, they got the top leaders to lead by example and lead from the front so that the rest of the organisation adapted to the changes in their ways of doing business.
In the current scenario, AI has opened many possibilities which call for a zero-based approach. The leaders must go back to the drawing board to rethink the way they must do business. Of course, they must involve many others from within the organisation as well as from outside in this rethinking stage. Some of the business processes might become redundant or amalgamated with something else to bring in efficiencies and deliver value to the stakeholders in the business. Some of these changes could be so fundamental that digital transformation must happen in multiple areas of the organisation. However, the challenge will be the availability of resources and time; so, it boils down to acknowledging the changes needed, prioritising them and preparing the organisation accordingly.
What does the organisation need?
Firstly, our top leaders must be involved in identifying the changes needed rather than asking the Chief Information Officer or Chief Digital Officer or Chief Technology Officer(CTO) to do this. The CTO could at best be the coordinator of this brainstorming and rethinking programme. The process of creating the transformation map has to be the shared responsibility of the top team of leaders and the agenda has to be co-owned by them rather than holding the CTO responsible for it.
Putting the agenda to work becomes the mandate of the CTO. S/he has to take the call on build-vs-buy, get the talent on board or outsource the project and keep all the business teams and head office functions close to the technology team. Further, the technology tools being created have to be so intuitive that the users find those comparable to the other tools that they use in their lives; user experience becomes a crucial factor. Gone are the days when users accepted clunkier interfaces for the applications they used at work vis-à-vis those they used as consumers in their daily lives of a bank, a marketplace, or social media.
Last, but not least, we need to enrich available data, expand the sources of gathering data, and make data accessible everywhere and protected at the same time. Managing the change all through the programme is not new, but it is a significant challenge now given the fact that a very large number of users are likely to be impacted going forward.
What mistakes must be avoided?
Sometimes, organisations sprinkle changes here and there in various business processes by running a few pilots. They argue that the resources are limited and hence, a few bets can be taken and based on the initial results, the programme will be scaled up. However, the underlying fallacy in this argument is that the pilots are so small that the impact delivered is minimal and could be below a threshold. And sometimes, there are dependencies on the result to be delivered and hence, these small bets might prove to be ineffective, the rest of the organisation doesn’t see the wins as significant, loses enthusiasm to adapt and develops resistance.
So, while prioritising among various possibilities and deciding on the pilots, one has to size them right, choose the right areas to implement and the appropriate leader to lead the programme.