In 2015 the Siemen’s CEO gave a speech at an exclusive private dinner for the wealthy and powerful in Germany. In the Q&A, the CEO was asked about the use of robots in manufacturing and whether they were a realistic prospect in the future. The CEO tackled this particular elephant in the room by informing the audience that his company already had one fully automated factory, and had the technology in hand to immediately convert all of its factories worldwide to being fully automated.

The major factor that deterred them from doing so was not economic – it made perfect economic sense to do so – but political: converting to fully automated factories would throw at least 40 per cent of their total workforce, much of it still based in Germany, into the unemployment lines. “If we did that,” he said, “the middle class in Germany would burn.” The audience was astounded, because the implication was that this was coming soon – very soon – and even one of the world’s most powerful CEOs could not hold back this powerful force of change for much longer. This thought piece looks at how you go about getting ready for and dealing with significant digital change. It considers the importance of having a framework can demystify the challenge and gives some insight on the approach my team follow when digitally transforming clients.

Most companies are optimised for the environment where they already operate

In my experience mature organisations typically have an established way of operating that has enabled decades of success. These ways of operating are usually responsible for the organisation’s survival to a point in time; the entity kept doing what was working and it prospered. The reality is that most organisations are optimised for the environment where they already operate. When anything in that environment changes, be it quickly or over time, they are not equipped to adapt and changes. Now, enter all the external factors that are driving disruption – customer / citizen expectations, employee expectations, new technology, new business models and new, rapidly growing startups.

Suddenly, those established ways of working may no longer be delivering the same results. As the impetus for change increases, caused by falling revenues and other negative pressures, the leadership teams need to formulate a strategic response. Some choose to tweak the existing ways to increase efficiency; but this is rarely enough to tilt the organisation back on to a long term, sustainable path. The need for a revolutionary approach, one that revitalises the organisation and returns it to viability becomes a necessity.
At this point having a digital transformation framework will help the leaders steer the organisation back onto a path that propels the business forward, not backwards. The reality is, it’s not the largest nor the most currently successful companies that succeed. Successful companies are the ones that are the most adaptable.

Irrespective of the industry digital transformations are happening

Does your organisation need to digitally transform? The short answer is yes. The long answer is yes unless your organisation is at its peak, where it has a deep understanding of customers, employee engagement is sky high and, all technology systems are modern, up-to-date and being used to deliver innovative products and services.

Irrespective of the industry in which an organisation exists, common pressures from profit margins, performance metrics, competitor activity, employee expectations, customer /citizen expectation and technology drive the decision to commence a digital transformation. Your organisation may have already begun its digital transformation – officially or, unofficially. If this is the case, it is imperative that a digital transformation framework is established to ensure that the transformation is successful. Why? The digital transformation of any organisation is not easy. It’s not a matter of following a checklist and, after all, boxes are ticked, the organisation is transformed. As I noted in my first thought piece, Every digital transformation needs a water carrier, your Digital Transformation will not be a one-size fits all scenario.

Six Steps to skyrocket your digital productivity

Like many others, our digital transformation framework highlights the overlapping areas of the organisation that must change. It will also be the basis of a multi-faceted program of work to deliver results. The right digital transformation framework provides a guide in a time of organised chaos. Don’t be mistaken an organisation undergoing this transformation is in a state of flux; a constant state of turbulence. The best frameworks are sufficiently consumable and straightforward to allow mass engagement. Here at Intergence, we have broken it down into six steps to skyrocket your digital productivity. These include; defining where you are starting from and where you would like to get to with a doable return, through to delivering the complete customer / citizen experience.

The framework you apply will be the guiding light that provides everyone in the organisation, from the Board down, a sense of progress toward the end goal – a revitalised, successful organisation. Without a sense of progress, the organisation is at risk of suffering from change fatigue. This can cripple an organisation, making it lose momentum and, if the business was already teetering on the edge of financial viability, it could be what tips it beyond a point of return. Change fatigue – the emotional response of employees caught in a cycle of endless change, with no positive end in sight – can be avoided by implementing a digital transformation framework.

The benefits of a digital transformation framework

All organisations exist as a finely tuned mix of separate functions, working together to deliver products and services to customers. The right digital transformation framework will provide support and mechanisms to guide the organisation through this period of intense change. It will ensure that no areas of the business are misunderstood or left behind in the process. It will provide a way to create tangible benchmarks, meaningful metrics and, clear indications of progress and, areas where more attention is required.

When digitally transforming clients, my team also look to enable them to make changes built from a strong business case, that can deliver their desired return on investment. Obviously, not all investments in a digital transformation will be profitable but the important aspect is to be in control and know why you are implementing the prospective change.

The right digital framework is one that is adaptable to an organisation

I believe the most important aspect for any digital transformation framework is its adaptability. Plus, the recognition that making this type of alteration to the business will change everything, constantly. As a result, the single most important thing that needs to change at all levels of the organisation is mindset. People need to think differently and be resilient in the face of continuous change. Having a digital transformation framework is one tool that will assist with the change, but it too needs to be adaptable to whatever the organisation and its people encounter along the way. For any digital transformation framework to work, leaders of the organisation need to have the right mindset to adapt and adjust as the journey unfolds. An example that we look to do as much as possible is to encourage clients where possible to use their existing infrastructure to build a path to using the more advanced digital services.

Each part of an organisation has a vital role to play. The digital transformation framework is the tool that binds the organisation together and, provides a common starting point for all teams. The benefits of the digital transformation will be both universal and, also have specific applications in different team functions.

The right digital framework is one that is adaptable to an organisation yet can be phased into logical, cohesive steps that will show tangible progress. The initial steps ensure the organisation knows what it is doing and, why it needs to do it. The subsequent steps are about execution and ongoing operational environment to use the results and data to learn from tweak the digital transformation before starting the process again.

The right framework and a bite at a time

So, to answer the question in the title. How do you eat the digital transformation elephant? With the right framework and a bite at a time. If you have any questions on your own current or future digital transformation’s please get in touch, I’d be delighted to connect and explore how my team and I can help. I would also encourage you to download our latest Digital Transformation Guiding Principles ebook which goes into much more detail on how to successfully achieve your digital goals.