Technology Solutions

Digital Transformation Derailment
Digital Transformation Derailment Raju G

Digital Transformation Derailment

Why Are Companies Hitting Roadblocks in Their Transformation Efforts?

No leader today needs convincing when it comes to digital transformation (DX). In fact, it’s all that we hear about at leadership conferences and symposiums.

The rules of digital transformation do not change with the change in business scale or size. Many enterprises – big and small – are making serious investments into it. However, they are running into roadblocks that are derailing their DX journeys. So, what is causing these roadblocks and why?

Focus Only on Adding New Technologies

It’s true that IT and technology plays a major role in DX. However, it is not the whole of DX. Most of the companies are too quick to invest in technologies like cloud, big data, automation, AI, machine learning, etc. They believe that once they have things in place, life will be easy. If only that was the case!

Embracing these technologies is not enough. You also need to have the processes in place to support these technologies.

We know that some business processes can be easily modified for DX. But there are some business-critical processes that cannot be reengineered easily. The legacy of these processes can also be partly due to legal regulations in place.

Adopting new technologies will only help you modernize your business. But without right kind of processes, you may not be able to transform at all.

Building on Top of Legacy Infrastructure

When discussing DX investments, many business leaders choose to invest their bucks in developing new apps and software. They believe that this would help them keep their technical debt under control and also accelerate their ROI realization from DX investments.

This strategy may work for many businesses, but this is a short-term solution. You cannot keep on mounting higher DX investments over an aging infrastructure. While it may solve your technical debt problems today, it will add more bigger problems to the milieu in the long run.

This kind of approach leads you nowhere and in fact leaves you stranded in dire straits.

This is precisely why CEOs need to step up and lead the digital transformation initiative and not let individual functional heads drive it. With CEOs at the front, the functional heads will have better collaboration which will lead to better strategic decisions.

Gaps at Strategic Levels

In many cases, we have seen that functional heads are individually driving the DX efforts. This means their focus at times is limited and they may not see the big picture. So, if the technology heads are leading DX they would develop competencies that they believe are needed. However, these competencies may not deliver fully on their potential due to lack of business context. The same is true for business leaders as well.

Both the leaders invest in developing competencies which may or may not interoperate with each other. This is what has been creating major gaps in digital transformation. Such siloed approach can only lead to a fractured strategy and execution.

Not Having the Right DX Partner

Many businesses invest in DX on piecemeal basis. For technology they may work with a particular IT vendor while for business processes realignment they may join hands with another service provider.

When this happens, no particular partner gets the full vision of the business and ends up delivering services that meet the need of the hour.

However, if you have one DX partner working with you on every single aspect, then it leads to better strategies, executions, and deliveries.

Now, we know it can be difficult to find a company that is good with all the aspects of digital transformation. After all you need somebody who understands technology, operations, business models, culture, people mindsets, existing skills, etc.

A good way to go about here is to engage with a digital transformation consultant on a trial basis. Talk to them to see if they really get your vision or not. A larger and broader engagement can be decided after your first interaction.

Getting a single partner to look into all your technology and operational level requirements will be the best decision you can make for your business. It will save you money and efforts while setting you on the right path of digital transformation.

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Digital Transformation: ROI & Justifying the Investments
Digital Transformation: ROI & Justifying the Investments Raju G

Digital transformation is not just a keyword that is buzzing around. It is a strategic goal and a top priority set forth by many business leaders.

Not many enterprises have managed a successful digital transformation. There are certain challenges that make digital transformation difficult. But the one challenge that is commonly found across industries is investment.

Digital transformation requires commitment from the highest level of decision makers of an enterprise. This means there are funds and resources that need to be set aside for it. However, both these resources are scarcely available and need to be utilized wisely.

The ROI has to be proved before any investment decisions are made, especially when there are multiple initiatives on the table demanding attention.

Digital Transformation & Traditional ROI

In most businesses, the ROI calculations usually depend on payback period or breakeven analysis. In some cases, the internal rate of return is given prominence. In simple terms, the gains from an investment are divided by the cost of making the investment to gauge its viability.

Now when it comes to digital transformation, things become a little complicated. Many consider digital transformation a one-time initiative of redefining and restructuring the business. If this is the case, then your ROI calculations would show that it wouldn’t be wise to spend millions behind the exercise. After all, you would be dealing with things like technology legacy, aging inventory, and technical debt of the enterprise.

But if you consider digital transformation a way of existing and doing business in the future, then making that million-dollar investment seems wise. You cannot build the futuristic business models and processes on aging systems.

If you are going to build a business case that presents digital transformation as a way of developing and launching new products or services, then your ROI projections will change and possibly look more lucrative.

Is Digital Transformation Really Pricey?

The response to this question depends on who is leading the digital transformation drive. In the early days, when technical leaders were driving the initiative, the projection of digital transformation and expectations from it were different. However, now with CEOs taking charge, the business case for it has changed.

When we work with CEOs on creating a business case to seek funding, we always tell them that there are two sides to digital transformation. One is the side that helps them save money by addressing operational inefficiencies, changing the way ideas are taken to marketplace, accelerating innovation, etc. It helps you understand your customers better which in turn impacts your product design and service delivery cycles.

The other is the side that helps enterprises improve revenues. Digital transformation helps you launch more relevant products and services, reduce go-to-market time, identify trends and patterns early, redefine supply chain and sales strategy, etc. it also helps you create a superior customer experience through omni customer view which turns brand loyalists into brand advocates.

Digital Transformation – Do It Right

There are some leaders who believe that digital transformation is priceless!

But if you are one of those leaders who is worried about the returns on the funding, the time is now for you. Even if the ROI calculations don’t look stellar, the business benefits outweigh all projections.

We believe that there are only three real threats when it comes to digital transformation:

  • Incorrect understanding of digital transformation
  • Having the wrong strategy in place.
  • Having the wrong skillsets and mindsets implementing the strategy.

Our digital transformation evangelists work with business leaders to address these three things and prepare a business case for getting the money and resources invested in the process.

If done right, digital transformation is not an initiative that would let you down. It would only add to your growth.

Digital Transformation: The Paradox & The Paradigm Shifts
Digital Transformation: The Paradox & The Paradigm Shifts Raju G

Digital Transformation:
The Paradox & The Paradigm Shifts

Digital transformation has redefined the relationship between a business and its customers. Everybody is talking about how digital channels and the overall digitalization of customer touchpoints has elevated customer experience to a whole another level. Some even call it dimensional shift.

But believe it or not, for some industries digital transformation is creating a paradoxical situation which needs immediate attention. Instead of bringing customers closer to the enterprise, it is pushing them further away!

Look at banking for example. Banking by its very nature represents a close relationship between the enterprise and its customers. This relationship is built on faith and trust – something that is very integral to human beings. However, these days digital channels have become the pulse of the banking industry. Chatbots are taking over interactions and IVRs are offering pre-defined assistance to customers. Websites and online forums are helping customers make buying decisions like never before.

So, what is really happening is that customers’ opinions and expectations are getting influenced even before they have any real human interaction. The human component in the entire journey is getting replaced by the digital channels.

How can an enterprise create a meaningful and a long-lasting relationship with customers if there is hardly any “real” conversation with a human? It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this new wave of digital customer experience is hitting hard at basic human qualities like emotion, compassion, comfort, etc. which create real value in a relationship.

A chatbot may be able to analyze the words of the customers and identify the sentiment as annoyance or anger. But would it be able to tread the fine line between annoyance, anger, and rage? What would happen when the customers use sarcasm in their dialogue? Would the chatbot be able to identify that as well? Better yet, would it be able to replicate the compassionate relationship or interaction a customer would have with a human on the other end?

The paradox is that while adoption of digital channels is improving customer interactions, it is impacting the quality of customer relationship. It is creating a void between the customers and the human part of the enterprise. And this void is getting wider with each passing day!

Addressing the Paradox

We have always maintained that digital transformation does not mean implementing a slew of digital technologies or tools. Unless and until you have a clearly defined strategy and a roadmap, the so-called “transformation exercise” would just remain a “modernization exercise”.

When discussing digital transformation with business leaders, we talk about the changes that they would have to deal with. We group these changes into three different categories.

The first category is called “Expected Changes”. This will include changes that are predictable and have already been anticipated by the leaders. The second category is called “Unexpected Changes” where we put down the changes that they did not anticipate but we were able to point out based on our other engagements. The third category is the “Paradigm Shifts”. This is where we put down slow and subtle transformations that redefine the essence of the industry.

Needless to say, the paradigm shifts are the ones that need more attention. They are not quantifiable and often just slip under the radar. They can be subtle to the point of not getting detected for years. But they have the capacity to disrupt the core essence of the industry.

We are focused on helping leaders deal with these paradigm shifts. We are holding discussions with industry leaders to deliberate on what it means for them to exist in the new normal of the industry where the rules of the existence are rewritten. It is these discussions that lead to a plan of adaptation for them to follow.

To know about the paradigm shifts that your industry would undergo and what should be your plan of adaptation, engage with our digital transformation consultants.

Digital Transformation: The Emerging Role of CEOs
Digital Transformation: The Emerging Role of CEOs Raju G

Digital Transformation: The Emerging Role of CEOs

So far, we have seen CIOs, CTOs, and even CDOs, to a great extent, lead digital transformation initiatives for enterprises. However, lately it is CEOs who are taking over the mantle and playing a more prominent role. It has started occupying a place on the corporate agendas in the boardrooms. While some may call it a disruption of sorts, we call it a natural progression of things.

We have always propagated that digital transformation is not a functional approach but an enterprise level strategy. Unless and until it starts dominating the boardroom discussion, we believe the enterprise is still not invested in the initiative completely.

So, what is driving this change and what is the role of a CEO in such a scenario?

Disruption Driven Transformation

So far digital transformation was all about disrupting the status quo of the market and forcing competition to rethink and reimagine. But now the rules of the game have changed! Now digital transformation is not about market disruption but self disruption. Every single function and line of business of the enterprise has to reimagine the way things are being done.

When the other leaders are taking a deep dive into the multi-functional disruption approach, CEOs can hold the business together through the transformation process.

Digital Innovation

We have already seen in our previous article how there are gaping holes in digital transformation efforts at technology and business end. Digital innovation is one such gaping hole that a CEO has to fill. While the CIOs and CTOs are struggling with technical debt and IT legacy, the CEO needs to bring in the fresh perspective.

If the initiative requires the business to invest more in technology and tools, then CEO has to roll the dice for it and convince the board members. If there is a need to acquire new smaller yet tech savvy companies, then it is the CEO’s entrepreneurial intellect that should drive the decision and not the IT needs or operational needs.

Redefine Culture

Digital transformation involves a lot of trial and error. The teams need to feel bold and empowered enough to bring new ideas to the table. They need to know that it is ok for them to fail and what really matters is willingness to try. This requires a cultural shift which can be brought in only by the CEO.

We have worked with some CEOs who have redefined the complex approval processes of their companies so that they do not stifle the life out of new ideas or innovations. We have helped them redefine their processes to ensure that ideas are analyzed faster and the best ones are picked up for implementation.

Improve Collaboration

Digital transformation has got a lot to do with getting different teams and functions to collaborate with each other and share information. This is departure from the traditional way of existence where functions operated in silos and fragmented information databases were the norm.

It is the CEO’s mandate to get the teams that have traditionally been at odds with each other to shake hands and operate in a connected environment. A CEO has to not only create opportunities of collaboration but also create an environment that insists on collaboration and rewards it appropriately.

Digital Leadership

With all said and done, it is the CEO who is the face of the business. His ideas, views, and opinions are looked upon as the voice of the enterprise. So, he has to be the digital leader through the transformation process. He has to be vocal about the need for digital transformation, the strategy in place, the reassurances needed for the employees in place – his voice will matter the most.

Conclusion

Many leaders still treat digital transformation as a matter of choice. But soon it will turn into a matter of existential crisis for them. Within next few years, they will be faced with the choice of transform or go extinct. We will also see many traditional markets and business models getting disrupted and making way of new ones.

But within all this chaos lies an opportunity that just cannot be compared to anything else. And this opportunity still remains untapped. The farsighted CEOs are already rewriting their playbooks and their role in digital transformation.

Digital Transformation: The Gaping Holes
Digital Transformation: The Gaping Holes Raju G

Digital Transformation: The Gaping Holes

The Push & Pull Between Technology & Business

The world is changing at an increasing rate – so much so that it has become quite frustrating to understand what is a temporary fad and what is redefinition of the future for an enterprise. This makes investment decisions quite tricky for leaders. And when you add the concept of digital transformation to this, it sets all the bets off the table!

The digital transformation efforts that any industry has witnessed over the last 5 years can be broadly divided into categories:

  • Driven by the technology side
  • Driven by the business side

While some technology leaders believe that it is the IT that will bring in the real value of transformation, the business leaders believe that it is the operations that will redefine the existence of the business itself.

Digital transformation has a lot to do with perception. While there is a clear gap between the way the two sides think about digital transformation, there is also a gap in what each side believes they can do and what needs to be done.

Technology Leaders and the Gaps

The technology leaders have their priorities set for the next few years. They are already investing in security, cloud (private and hybrid) solutions, data science, application delivery, etc. When we ask them about their digital transformation plan they inevitably bring up automation, process reengineering, and technology upgrade. So far so good! But real transformation happens when they are willing to disrupt themselves and not just the market.

When we work with technology leaders we help them create a competency map which includes three categories:

  1. Competencies that they already possess
  2. Competencies that they are currently developing
  3. Competencies that they need to develop

When we sit down with them, we help them identify what goes in the third category. We help them understand how they can develop the ability to innovate at scale or drive change enablement. They also need to develop the ability to manage the IT lifecycle while making it agile enough to swiftly plug in business needs.

We know that CIOs or CTOs are constantly getting pulled into different directions by the new emerging trends. But not all of them are long term shape shifts for an organization. We work with technology leaders to understand what can drive the next wave of disruption and invest in it.

Business Leaders and the Gaps

The business side of the enterprise is always focused on customer and revenues. So inadvertently the business leaders have their priorities set as customer engagement, product or service delivery, and identifying growth opportunities. To support these strategic goals or vision, they are already investing in developing domain expertise, improving operations, understanding customer needs better, and creating offerings that are relevant.

It is true that business leaders have been pushing for digital technologies. But the real gap lies in digital innovation. We work with business leaders as they develop digital platform expertise needed for meeting their strategic priorities.

Enterprises are also acquiring smaller tech savvy companies to achieve technical expertise. In such cases, we help business leaders make informed decisions based on entrepreneurial inclination and not just a temporary fad of the market.

While business leaders are exploring digital way of doing business, many are still depending on brick and mortar processes when it comes to fulfilment. We are helping them explore new collaborations, operational alliances, and business models.

We are also driving the dialogues around improving brand experience, increasing the relevance of products or services, and transforming customers from loyalists to brand advocates.

Conclusion

There have been conscious efforts by many technology leaders and business leaders to combine their competencies for digital transformation. However, despite this there are still gaping holes at strategic and execution levels. These gaps could be due to difference in competencies or even approach. But these gaps could also be a result on discrepancies in thinking.

The more the business and the technology side share and realign themselves towards a common goal, the better it is for the enterprise. However, digital transformation is going to need a constant rethinking and reimagining on both the sides. So, what will really matter is how the two undergo their own disruption process while still staying connected and aligned with each other.

Digital Transformation & Technical Debt
Digital Transformation & Technical Debt Raju G

Digital Transformation & Technical Debt: A CIO’s Perspective

Digital transformation is ruling the charts when it comes to business conversations. You go to any conference, symposium, or conclave and you will not step out of it without hearing a thought or two on digital transformation.

The fact is that almost every business leader puts faith in digital transformation. There is no denying that! But practice differs from the preaching.

So, what is holding CIOs back from fully exploring digital transformation? While there are many challenges, technical debt almost always tops the list due to its ability to cripple business and stifle digital transformation.

Technical Debt – A Real Catch 22

It is hard to imagine a business today that has not made any investment in technology. They all have some software, application, or tool in place. The amount of technical debt that an enterprise will accumulate depends on the type of development approach used for these applications or software.

In many cases, we have seen IT opting for the faster development approach since it requires less time and resources. However, this may not necessarily be the smart approach. Coding conventions, application designs, and even architectural backends that accelerate development can at times compromise the future-readiness of the solution.

Now when digital transformation beckons the CIOs to rethink their IT and redesign their business processes, they end up in catch 22 situation. They now have applications and solutions that cannot be realigned. But they cannot even do away with them since these solutions or apps have not yet delivered any ROI. The investments made in them are yet to be recovered.

Technical Debt – How to Deal With It

Digital transformation is not an overhaul exercise but a shape shifting phenomenon. That’s what we always tell business leaders when we sit across the table with them. While there is a solution to handling technical debt, it requires a customized approach.

We are currently having discussions with CIOs who are looking for ways to deal with their so-called “IT Stock”. We work with them to understand the amount of technical debt that their enterprise has accumulated, where this debt has been accumulated, and how much needs to be written off for digital transformation.

While there are some technical debts that can be written off, there are some that a business will have to fix for the sake of transformation. For example, a customer database that is fragmented across different channels will need to be fixed for omni-channel customer experience. Similarly, legacy systems that have not been upgraded will have to be fixed for the sake of process automation.

We know that the jury is still out on how to measure technical debt and how much of it is good for a business. But there is no denying the fact that it needs to be dealt with, one way or the other. So, we are starting with helping CIOs have a frank discussion around IT spending, IT liability that is on the balance sheet and off the balance sheet, and its impact on business transformation.

Connect with us to discuss the technical debt of your business and how to deal with it.

Continue reading our digital transformation series for business leaders to know how we are closing the gap between:

  • Business leadership and digital transformation
  • Technology leadership and digital transformation
Agile Testing for Digital Assurance
Agile Testing for Digital Assurance Raju G

The Agile Manifesto was introduced at the beginning of 2001 when previous development methodologies were not able to keep up with market demands for speed.

The introductions of mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, smart watches and even autonomous vehicles ushered in the Internet of Things (IoT) which connectivity and data exchange.

In 2016, the largest ever distributed denial of service attack took place using 150,000 IoT-enabled devices, including baby monitors. In 2017, there were 122 known IoT platforms and the current estimate is that over 80% of IoT devices are vulnerable to security threats.

On Monday April 23, 2018, I had the honor of speaking to a cohort of software development testing and quality assurance professionals. The event was a full day lively conversation on advancement of testing and quality controls in global software industry.

While the other speakers shared their thoughts on topics like test objectives, test integrity, BDD, digital transformation, and team ownership, I shared my two cents on digital value chain. I also touched upon the importance of SMAC testing at the center of any digital assurance platform and the transfer and access to data at all these points.

To learn more about my SMAC testing idea, visit the Medium Blog.

I enjoyed sharing best practices with other testing professionals. To know who else was present, visit the Medium Blog.

Thank you and see you at the next talk.

 

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