A Tale of Two Transformations

StrataFusion partners frequently meet and speak with business leaders across industries. This network of clients, colleagues and peers provides valuable insights into how companies view digital transformation, culture, operational and organizational challenges in the digital age.

Digital signals flying over highway. Digital transformation. Internet of Things.

“It was the best of times it was the worst of times …” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Digital Transformation has been a revolutionizing force for business for more than a decade. It’s an exciting time for companies, but also brings many challenges that can test leaders and cultures.

While there are things common to business that every CIO should consider, the journey is different for everyone.  We recently spoke to two heads of technology at mid-size companies to understand their views on Digital Transformation and how it fits with their strategy. Both are fairly young companies in similar industries with less than 20 years in operation.  Given the age of these companies, you might assume they would not face much need for digital transformation, that they already have the underlying technology, skills and processes ready to evolve in step with the market demands and new entrants.  Here is what they had to say.

Company A:  Focusing on Big Themes

The first company in our comparison is all about solving for complexity:   complexity of systems, technologies, decision-making, methodologies and all the interrelatedness that needs to be addressed. The questions they ask center around the following:

  • Value Model: what is the value proposition to launch a large system replacement? What is the value proposition to simplify and eliminate so many in-place vendors and products – and add new different ones?
  • Change Management: why do all business units need to standardize IT? Won’t it delay a lot of more important things and take money away from their initiatives? With global business diversity (when operating in many regions and countries), is it best to standardize or differentiate?
  • Scalability: it’s easy to go overboard with digital. How much is enough and how is cost structure impacted?

Company B:  Drilling Down on Tactical Planning:

The other company in our comparison is focused more on starting with results and less on starting with strategy.  It is about looking at some of the “quick wins” to move the case for transformation forward.  The questions they ask center around:

  • Metrics: how exactly will they measure success?
  • The Test Drive: can they try before they buy? While they believe an overall approach is needed, they want the experience as a proof-point.
  • Customer: when operating in a commercial space, how do you execute transformation activity to align with customers and their business outcomes in every step of planning?

It’s clear that even younger companies and start-ups have digital transformation challenges.  The size of the problem may be different, but the legacy (and the potential for legacy) issues can be very similar to larger, more mature organizations.

Is there a right answer to what approach is best for transformation success?  Even if in the same industry, every company is different:  from the communications of their leadership teams to their workforce and their culture; what works for one may not work for the other.  This is the value a trusted advisor delivers: experience that understands the unique facets every company brings to the equation of any digital change in the business model.  That’s our approach.

Now it’s your turn to weigh in! We love feedback, so share your thoughts in the comments.

Future installments on this topic will dive into StrataFusions’s point of view on various approaches to transformation.  We will provide deeper consideration around the successful starting points, the questions and data needed for successful digital transformation.

 

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