I advised you last week to start with a simple and pragmatic initiative as the very first step for your digital transformation. Looking for added-value, speed and agility, you gently disrupted your company and so fare with limited investment.
Yes… but even if limited, budget is not your only concern, but also commitment. If your first initiative step is limited, the whole Digital Transformation is highly disruptive in a company.
It is now time to onboard your CEO and other ExCo members.
Why should a CEO be committed?
The worst scenario is to jump in foggy wide ambitions… Imagine a non-digital company CEO at an executive board meeting who declares « We must go to digital. We must be in the cloud with big data and expose our API », like in this funny video https://youtu.be/lj98y865U8I from USI 2015 (sorry, it’s only in French).
Is that a commitment? Certainly not. If your CEO has that kind of statement in mind, or has no commitment at all, it is time for you to build it.
To have the right Digital Transformation commitment, you must understand your CEO’s basic needs and be able to respond to the following questions:
How do I see the company in 3 to 5 years?
The Digital Vision
The start must be a business dream. The example I cited above is not a vision, it is only a concatenation of trendy hypes overheard at a symposium and/or from consultants…
The Digital Vision must not be IT driven, it will be soon enough once technologies need to be put in place. Rather the focus should be on defining the company position and image? What will be the added value this change will bring to our customers? Why will my customers stay or come to me? How will it affect my employees?
Once you have your target vision, you must define several phases to reach it: each phase is an important step to reach your vision, allowing your company to focus on more tangible and realistic goals.
The caterpillar does not become a butterfly instantly… It first grows, then move to its chrysalis, matures and finally becomes a butterfly. Each phase is progress towards the vision and prepares for the next phase.
Why does my company need a Digital Transformation?
The Digital Transformation objectives
Once you have the vision and its phases, you are able to describe what you expect from each of them. Your Digital Vision is business driven and must deliver added value to your customers, your employees and your company.
For this exercise, the phases are key for achieving tangible business objectives that keep in mind the business focus and directions. But the more a phase is far away, its objectives will be less tangible.
At each phase close end, you must review and clarify the objectives of the next one. Given that digital world is in constant evolution, you must be able to foresee regular adaptations to keep a relevant vision.
What are the risks in a Digital Transformation?
Digital risk management
Saying « risks » is often a dream killer… Digital Transformation success is only possible if you keep your feet on the ground. We all know that Digital comes with uncertainties and new risks (legal, technology, organisation…). So the main point is not to identify exactly all risks but to determine how to manage the new risks raised by Digital.
Risk identification and details can remain unknown or unclear until you have established, at least, your Digital roadmap. At the same time, it is unlikely to work on a roadmap without considering risks…
While you might need to wait for the finalized version of your roadmap, you should already determine how you will manage the new risks. An example, you know that you will encounter new legal risks. Preparing the right legal organisation and validation/escalation path should be a good starting point.
What are the risks if my company does not enter into the digital era?
The competition and the market & customer evolution
You know your competitors, your market and your customers. Today…
What will they be tomorrow? You need to collect as much information as possible: studies, benchmarks, seminars, similar markets (in Wealth Management, we looked to luxury goods) and, last but not least, your competitors, including start-ups.
Once you have a good idea of the market trends, just ask yourself one question: will I lose or miss customers and business if I do not reach my Digital Vision?
Going through this exercise will help to highlight any missing objectives, make necessary phase adjustments and, most important, deliver your first priorities.
Is my company able to become digital?
The Digital roadmap
If I were to answer to my « Cloud/Big Data/API » CEO, the answer is… no!
If it is about your first digital initiative (the small and pragmatic one as advised last week), the answer is… yes!
I will share my absolute gold rule: deliver added value quickly and regularly.
Your roadmap must be a clever mix of quick wins, pilots (including innovation experiments), mid-term projects and long-term projects (both preferably with phased deliveries). It must also include pure business initiatives (no IT requested). I will come back on this in one of the coming weeks.
Is my company ready to become digital?
The Digital Change Management
This is, in my point of view, the most important question. What could be the value of any digital initiative if no one is aware of it and if no one wants, or knows how to use it.
Yet seeing as your roadmap is made of many initiatives for which you won’t be able to organise communication and training for each of them, since otherwise your employees won’t have time to work anymore… Moreover, you will be increasing the Digital Transformation costs while decreasing its efficiency.
You must have a change management program to coordinate all soft and hard skills trainings and all your communications. Be very hard to please and do not hesitate to look hard for efficiency. I will come back on this in one of the coming weeks
How much should I invest? Again the Digital roadmap and, of course, the business case
As you have cut your roadmap into many small pieces, you are able to evaluate the costs from each of them. But as for your objectives, the further an initiative is, the less accurate you will be.
Your business case approach should be as follow:
- Evaluate the costs and returns for the coming year’s initiatives. Each delivery must provide a lesson learned that is to help adjust and improve your evaluations.
- Do not lose your time evaluating returns for small initiatives. You must have some freedom for experiments, innovations and higher risk (meaning unknown results) initiatives.
- Evaluate the potential returns from your business objectives. This evaluation should partially compensate the uncertainties presented by the long-term initiatives.
- Consider qualitative returns, but do not systematically quantify them.
Could we fail?
The right to fail
Easy, the answer is yes. You will fail.
The good news is that you will most probably fail some of your initiatives but they are all limited and you are able to adjust to limit failure.
Indeed, in one of the coming week, I will highlight how to take the most from new working methodologies and from your new CTO partner.
Committed CEO… Who’s next?
CEO commitment is not a statement but a strong-willed position and mindset. As Kennedy with his statement « In this decade, we will send a man to walk on the moon and bring him back safely » (this is my summary from the J.F. Kennedy speech at the Congress Joint Session on May 25, 1961), CEO commitment should be to reach an expected Digital Vision within 3 to 5 years. It should be accomplished thanks to a common effort within the company and for the best of the customers, the employees and the company.
Once the CEO has a clear vision of how to reach the clearly defined objectives, he must share it with all executives. The Digital Transformation is not from the CDO or CMO or… It is a personal commitment. And each executive must support the company to successfully attain the CEO’s objectives for the Digital Transformation.
The Digital Vision, its phases , objectives and the roadmap, will facilitate onboarding all executives. Easy to say, sometimes not so easy to do… What is for sure is that you have all the elements to communicate to them and to start change management with them, your first target.
If they do not understand Social Media: show them studies you have and explain, coach them to open (or improve) their LinkedIn profile, buy tablets they can test and learn with…
Moreover, the executives are stakeholders: each initiative must have one executive as a sponsor.
Build your digital success story through each successful delivery together with the concerned executive.
When you have onboarded key executives, start the top-to-bottom communication as your next change management step.
I will come back on this in one of the coming weeks as it is a key activity in any Digital Transformation.
Where’s the money?
This week’s chapter is a bit long. But CEO and executives commitment is so key that there was a lot to highlight.
I want to stress one point: all my highlights are not sequential. Digital Transformation is an interactive and incremental exercise.
The only thing to keep in mind is that the Digital Vision is the starting point. You have defined a phase? Work on its roadmap. You’re working on the roadmap? Elaborate the change management. Have issues with the roadmap? Go back to the concerned phase. You need to change? Evaluate the risks.
You will have to adapt and adjust from the very first day to the very last one.
Uncertainties will progressively decrease and your coming initiatives will become clearer and more accurate every day. One last difficult step is to build your budget… Accounting just hates uncertainties. And they are right.
You cannot onboard a company in a deep transformation that has high risks on time and money without strong budget management.
I would strongly advise you to have:
- A clear and precise budget view on the year to come.
- A well-defined separate budget for pilots, open innovation and high risk initiatives. To be very clear, this amount is the potential loss you can afford without putting your company at risk or endangering any budgetary balance.
- An envelope approach per logic group of initiatives and per phase. When a phase is close to its end, you must review the envelope from the next phase to reach a clear and precise budget view.
- A global contingency per phase will allow you to adjust its related initiatives. It is not an open bar… it is only your capacity to manage the remaining uncertainties, always keeping in mind that your goal is to funnel back any unused funds at the end of the phase. You want to keep this money in your Digital Transformation? No problem, but it should be only to expand the next phase, not the current one. Remember that you have a phase to reach and deliver. Remember that you have a Digital change management program which cannot become hectic because you add in the middle new initiatives…
- Outside pilots and innovation, avoid adding new initiatives in the ongoing phase to reach your Digital Vision. Indeed, as you have phased wisely your vision, the next phase is not far away. The new initiative could most probably wait until the next phase…
Congratulations, you have opened the door and the light is on.
Through your iterative approach and your first initiative, Digital Transformation is on-boarding more and more people.
If the Digital Vision and its phases are the red thread of your Digital Transformation, your Digital roadmap is your key asset to support. How to build it? See you next week.