Leaders are Not the Missing Piece to Digital Transformation

The lack of publicity and engagement may be hindering your digital transformation.

27 Feb, 2020 blogmissingpiece.jpeg

You may have huge plans for your organization’s digital transformation. You know it’ll benefit the company in the long run, but find extreme difficulty in actualizing these plans. There is support, but also scepticism and not enough care to launch the digitalization project.

You are not alone — this is something that haunts many organizations’ digital transformation.

Most of the leaders my team and I have talked to are enthusiastic in embracing change. Some may already have a digital team in place. So why are companies not initiating more AI transformations if they already know it would benefit them in the long term? If leaders are already there to take charge of projects, what is lacking in the conversation? What do organizations need to start successful digital transformations?

1. In-depth Consultation

This sounds like what everyone is already doing, but hear me out.

Some of the clients my team have consulted thought they needed a particular solution. However, from our perspective, what they needed was another solution, but they were too fixated in researching on what they thought would help the company. They did not know that another solution was available and worse of all, they did not understand the full picture of their problem.

What the leaders thought they knew was different from what was actually happening.

Through talking with different stakeholders (as in most cases, the project engages more than one single department), you are able to better define the scope of the solution that you need — it may be singling out a certain process to automate it or coupling a few processes together.

That’s why we always always always start with consultation. We try to ask as many questions as possible as there are things that people in the industry find too simple and usually fail to mention, but are actually essential for outsiders to understand the full picture.

2. Transfer the Enthusiasm

We’ve experienced many times where while the company wanted a new solution, the fact that they know they will have to go through a phase of data collection which involves a temporary added process, deters them from making a long term impact.

If you are leading a digital transformation project in your team internally or a digital team, bridge the information gap on what is AI/what is the tech you would like to use. Despite leaders knowing the power of AI and tech, those working below them may not have a full grasp of such understanding.

If you are a digital team, it’s even more essential to build your team’s identity and giving a basis on why people should trust you in making a change.

Since digital transformation is not a one-man process nor is it a change that only involves leaders, it is crucial to transfer the same enthusiasm within all levels of the company. This especially holds true to those managing the day-to-day workings of projects, as they have to bear the grunt work of the processes during and after the change.

3. Connecting With People in Informal Ways

We worked with a digital team of a large retailer that’s present in more than 50 regions. Since the organization is so vast, it was difficult for the digital team to know who was the right person to contact and what cases/tech could tackle specific problems that the business face.

The failure to identify issues is a common problem many large corporations deal with. An organization’s digital team can formulate solutions for what they think are problems for the business users.

However, to ensure long term success of the project, it’s difficult for the solution to actually succeed without the input and the support of the business users.

The retailer’s digital team found sending mass emails did not garner any response from potential departments that wanted a new solution in place. So, everyone in the digital team tried talking to people in different company events, regardless of their department or rank in the company. This gave them the opportunity to know the people that they may work with personally and build informal relationships. If the people they met weren’t the right people the team should be contacting, these contacts could somehow guide them to another person which may be their potential stakeholder that could get the conversation going for digitalization.

The method worked. They were able to identify internal champions to push for more transformation within different units, acquire needed data for certain solutions, build prototypes and actually realize the solutions that business user had in mind. They’ve currently created more than 10 prototypes for different departments and are on the way in commercializing some of them.

We are not lacking people who want change in the company, we are also not lacking leaders to head a transformation process. What is absent is the lack of engagement and publicity (or the other way round, publicity and engagement) which leaders usually fail to address when launching transformation initiatives.

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