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The Key to Effective Digital Transformation is Understanding the Data Your Business Creates.

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Identify the telltale signs which will let you know if your digital transformation is effective.

by Percy Johnson, Vice President Agile Solutions

The digital transformation of an organization has a profound effect on the people who work there.
When things go well, it energizes the company and can be a catalyst towards building a new inclusive culture.
But there’s a downside too.
Sweeping change can also be quite traumatic for long-term employees, even when you get it right. You shouldn’t be surprised to encounter employees who feel that their world has been turned upside down, and are resistant to the change.

Effective transformation implies a new, sustainable way of working that empowers employees to be the drivers of change.

In today’s digital economy, most organizations understand that they have to adapt to take advantage of all the opportunities being presented. “More than three quarters of the executives surveyed feel that digital transformation is critical for their company,” according to Srikant Sastry, the National Managing Principal of Advisory Services at Grant Thornton.

Those who are leading the change must be ready to encourage, support and engage those who will be most effective, if the transformation process is going to work.

How do you effect change that is effective? It all begins with good data. Data that paints a broad and comprehensive view of the organization, and will point you to the areas that are most in need of transformation.

Actionable insights from data

The key to effective digital transformation is finding the insights contained in the data that your company is generating, and then devising a way forward towards a digital future based on those insights. It’s a lot harder than it sounds.

“The hard truth is that most lean or agile transformation initiatives will fail, because they challenge the very fundamentals of the organisation: how the money works, how governance works, how management works, how accountability works,” explains Organizational Change Specialist Dan North.

Management...governance...accountability...those are big-ticket items in every organization, no matter how big or small.

Source: Accounting Today

Accounting Today reports that the main processes companies are planning to automate over the next five years are:

  • Financial planning and analysis (54 percent),
  • Budgeting and forecasting (53 percent),
  • Corporate development and strategic planning (49 percent), and
  • Financial reporting and control (49 percent).

If your new digital-first approach is not quickly effective when dealing with these critical matters, then the people forced to do the work will simply revert back to what has been working for them up to this point. Furthermore if your transformation efforts are rejected initially, it’s very hard to get people to buy in and try the same strategy for a second time.

Getting it right

Firstly, when it comes to designing transformation according to your actionable data, it’s vital that there is broad agreement on what metrics really matter. Quality analytics will give you an opportunity to pinpoint the right areas to focus on, and get buy-in from the whole team. Once everyone knows what they are trying to change and improve upon, then the whole team can focus on getting those metrics moving in the right direction.

Secondly, it’s no good simply throwing new technology on top of old problems and expecting a magical fix to the underlying issues. Effective change has to go deeper than that, and be brave enough to make changes at the heart of your operations.

Years of studying digital transformation has led Andy Rowsell-Jones, Vice President and distinguished analyst at Gartner to conclude that “digital transformation requires commitment, leadership, strategy, technology, innovation and importantly, money.”

What should you be striving for?

The goal when managing transformation is to achieve a new ‘steady state’ inside an organization so that change and adaptability become part of your paradigm. That means embracing new ideas and becoming a learning organization that is committed to its results and not its processes.

Listen to your employees, find out where the bottlenecks are, and embrace the concept of lifelong learning. If your organization becomes agile enough, there is nothing you cannot overcome.

So many companies are worried about their readiness to implement effective change. They’re not concerned that these transformative processes will not occur, but without the right staff and effective training, they will not have the full impact that they should have.

Leaders can see the tremendous potential of the technology that is breaking through, and they know it needs to be harnessed correctly.

What does success look like?

Every organization is looking to achieve different goals at different times; there is no single measure of success.

But there are a few general principles that can help you recognize when things are moving in the right direction.

  • An increase in positive energy - you should feel a new energy in the company and a willingness to solve problems.
  • Increased connectedness seamlessly across departments - you can expect to see a sense of collaboration and partnership as different departments come together to break down barriers.
  • Faster, better delivery - all your key metrics should start trending in the right direction.
  • More learning - look for innovation and find the people who are leading change.
Image Source: Shutterstock

Ultimately AI Foundry has discovered that the goal for any organization is “to take advantage of the latest digital technology to create a machine that can rapidly respond to changing business and market conditions, is always competitive and exceeds demanding customer expectations.”

To find out more about how AI FOUNDRY is working with organizations to deliver Actionable Intelligence, sign up for our new white paper “Successful Digital Transformation is Built Upon Actionable Intelligence.”

AI Foundry is committed to transforming the ways organizations use their digital data. We work with the financial services industry to extract insight and value from data, and improve the quality of business and service that you can deliver.

Get in touch to find out more about what we can do for you.