What Does Digital Transformation Really Mean?

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The last several years the buzzwords in larger companies were “digital transformation”. If you followed topics at large conferences or large vendors, you heard this term. If you worked at a large company, you heard this term and it may have struck fear into your heart. So many times these phrases come into vogue (Service Oriented Architecture is one that comes to mind) promising to be the next revolution in how businesses will work and be more efficient or technologically advanced… but they don’t really stick.

Looking for definitions of this latest catch phrase, I found this among many:

“Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. It transcends traditional roles like sales, marketing, and customer service.”

This was the most understandable ones that existed.

Is it any wonder that a 2019 survey of CIO’s showed that 70% of digital transformation projects were not meeting the goals? Perhaps if it was more clearly stated, it would be more understandable for those that need to carry out the plans.

But 2020 is the year that businesses large and small really began to understand what digital transformation really meant. COVID forced businesses to digitize because that is what their customers, clients and potential survival demanded. Large or small, digital transformation became understandable. Whether it was creating an online ordering system for a supermarket or allowing for remote connectivity for employees to continue their work, businesses undertook using technologies in ways they did not plan for potentially for years. As this report by McKinsey highlights, what may have taken years took less than 9 months.

At Chariot, we wish that it did not take a pandemic to have companies better understand the benefits of modernizing their systems. Hopefully, 2021 will find organizations with the time to plan their next upgrade.

The following is a process the Chariot team follows to ensure a successful project.

1. Business-Driven Technology Plan

As we’ve discussed before, it’s critical that your technology decisions be informed by business goals. Our Discovery and Analysis Phase helps to outline goals, challenges, and demands of any digital transformation effort before ever choosing a piece of tech. This is an effective way to protect your investment and ensure buy-in from the many stakeholders within your company.

2. Resource Assessment

Once you’ve mapped your initiative, perform a realistic assessment of your available resources – both human capital and budget. Identifying a solid technology team that includes a tech lead, product lead, UX/UI experts, and key developers is critical. Some businesses may have this all under-roof, others may have to enlist outside providers. Know before you begin.

3. Flexible Roadmap

You know the saying about best-laid plans. With apologies to Robert Burns, he likely never met a product rollout plan. Rarely do timelines, go-lives, or pressure testing scenarios go as expected. If pushing massive change in response to an external event like the pandemic, chances are your launch will experience delays or setbacks. Build in redundancies and cushion to account for builds, beta testing, crash reporting, and QA testing.

4. Extensible Architecture

It’s critical to have a simple, extensible architecture in place for both software, mobile or cloud development.

5. Minimum Viable Product strategy

Define what a minimal viable product (MVP) is for your team and what success looks like for that threshold. Then put a product owner in place with a clear vision of what needs to be done, and who can create realistic timelines and deliverables. This same MVP approach can be recycled when you’re ready to add new features or projects over time.

Chariot Solutions can work with your team and organization to build your plan for 2021. Contact us today.