By Dean Leung, Executive Vice President of Digital Enablement and Communities, iManage
Over the past decade, digital transformation (DX) initiatives have been undertaken by companies across multiple industries, including banking and finance. There are several misconceptions, however, that surround DX and prevent organisations from fully unlocking the value that it can provide.
The first misconception is that digitalisation or automation is the same thing as DX. It isn’t. DX concerns itself with the question “Is there a better way to do something?” rather than just “Is there a faster way to do something?”. Or, as a popular analogy about digital transformation puts it: “When digital transformation is done right, it’s like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, but when done wrong, all you have is a really fast caterpillar.”
Another misconception about DX is that it’s simply about embracing the newest technologies that are out there to “keep up” with other companies or the latest technological trends. It isn’t. Whether it involves a move to the cloud or the deployment of a new system, the technology at the center of a DX project should be embraced because it solves a business challenge and supports a desired business outcome, such as increasing revenue, decreasing costs, or creating efficiencies. At the end of the day, that business outcome is the ultimate goal of DX – not deploying technology for technology’s sake, or moving to the cloud because everybody else is moving to the cloud.
Perhaps the biggest misconception surrounding DX is that there are discrete stages to it that can be “accomplished” and then checked off like a to-do item. In many ways, this mindset is understandable: Since DX projects often revolve around deploying a new application or moving to the cloud, DX is perceived as having a finite lifespan.
In truth, DX is an ongoing process with digital enablement serving as a crucial milestone in the journey. This enablement is what allows organisations to work towards the “transformational” piece of DX, reaching a stage where transformation is continuous and keeps up with the speed of business.
Transformation requires more than technology
So, what does this ongoing process look like, and what counts as digital enablement? It starts with recognising that technology is just one piece of the DX puzzle – and that true transformation can’t come without an accompanying evaluation of people and workflow processes, alongside a healthy dose of successful change management and the ongoing adoption of a new set of best practices to deliver an exceptional customer experience.
This means building in an ongoing culture of adaptation and evolution around business processes and workflows, so that the culture is in place for the organisation to constantly evolve and adapt new technologies that can drive those original business outcomes forward – or, just as easily, support new business outcomes that are developed as priorities shift, new opportunities are uncovered, or the business landscape changes.
The cloud is an ideal technological platform to underpin this culture because it is continually delivering new functionality and enhancements as soon as they are available. This enables organisations to be much more nimble and agile in evolving the technology that they can leverage for their ongoing digital transformation. It also allows smaller organisations to compete with larger ones by leveling the technological playing field.
Natively embedded digital enablement
Is there a “final stage” of digital transformation? Yes and no. If the question is “Is there a final milestone that can be checked off that signals the last step in the journey?” – no, there isn’t.
But is there a final stage where companies can see that DX has become native to the culture of the organisation? Absolutely. This can be identified by the fact that a company is continually evaluating their workflows and their processes to ensure that they are evolving with available technology to achieve the desired business outcomes, and that a culture of transformation and adaption is present – one whose mindset is always to ask: “is there a better way?”.
This level of digital enablement is not something that can be achieved through an email blast or some “one and done” exercise. It’s something that needs sustained buy-in from all the levels of management as well as the workers themselves. This requires communicating the anticipated benefits of a DX initiative and showing what’s in it for the company, what’s in it for a particular department, and what’s in it for a particular individual that fosters an engaged workforce. Achieving this alignment throughout the organisation is like tuning an engine to make sure that all the parts are running well together, and it’s essential to building that culture of digital enablement.
Powerful new outcomes
Ultimately, DX isn’t about a particular technology platform, or even a go live date with that technology. It’s about achieving a desired business outcome. Getting there requires not just the right technology, but a close look at the organisation’s business processes and workflows, and the creation of a culture of continual adoption, adaptation, and innovation. This digital enablement is what enables DX projects to succeed and for organisations to transform themselves into the proverbial butterfly – becoming innovative new versions of themselves that can deliver powerful new outcomes.