Digital transformations are even more impactful, and often more disruptive, to corporations and their cultures than traditional IT transformations, which focus primarily on systems. The business value impact can be substantial, as is the risk of failure.
Benchmarking can help crystalize targeted outcomes by identifying what measurements are most important and showing progress against both internal and external guideposts. Whether they are used to compare to a competitor, track current performance, or understand the impacts of an industry trend, benchmarking can serve as a catalyst for achieving transformation goals.
How can IT leaders can drive successful digital transformation through benchmarking?
- Engage Your People
Ensure that your transformation benchmarking is heavily informed by the people who will actually lead and work on transformation initiatives. While external benchmarks are valuable guideposts, your people and teams know best what your organization can handle.
- Be Clear on Timing
Benchmark early in transformation scope planning. Delaying benchmarking until you are at the doorstep of implementation risks missing key signals that can come from benchmarking at the outset of business process redesign and the insight that comes from systematically testing and monitoring early stage transformation efforts.
- Support the Leadership Conversation
Use measures to facilitate a regular executive conversation on your company’s strategic digital health. The right high-level measures give feedback on the pace of transformation that elevates the dialog above the quarterly tug of war. The ability to continue collaborative conversations beyond your last strategic off-site can improve your partnering dynamic and keep the focus where it belongs – digital competition.
When these benchmarking steps are addressed appropriately, several enablers of transformation success are bolstered:
- Clear, shared and measurable expectations and progress milestones are set
- Feedback loops focused on tangible, actionable points are established
- Course correction earlier in the process appropriately adjusts future targets
- Effective communication that demonstrates progress and motivates people and teams
We have more to cover in our ongoing benchmarking series. For now, we would love to hear from you about what role benchmarking plays in your organizations, where you run into challenges and how you are solving for success.
This is the second installment in StrataFusion’s benchmarking series.
Three focus areas to help business navigate never-ending change
Technology is changing the world faster than ever before. As consumers and as business leaders, we now navigate each day with an expectation of change. The digital transformation that is sweeping the economic landscape certainly makes for exciting experiences but also requires businesses to be more agile than ever before and quickly adapt to market needs.
So what should technology leaders do to help the business adapt?
- Be part of strategic decision-making: Today’s technology leaders aren’t just focused on the network and systems. Modern technology strategy is crucial to innovation and should be focused on holistic business adaptability and helping their organization rapidly develop high-quality products and services to drive customer experience. Internal business partners must also leverage technology to accomplish their goals and seize opportunities.
- Know the customer and provide an incredible experience: You don’t have to look far to see major consumer disruption examples, from the way people want to shop, bank and travel. The same is true for business customers. But too often, technology leaders become bogged down in the actual technology and lose track of their customers and what they need. Leaders should be talking to customer regularly to understand the problems they are solving. In fact, 62 percent say delivering an excellent customer experience defines success as a digital-first business. Check out IDG’s 2018 State of Business Transformation.
- Be agile and be fast: Fast-moving change is one thing business leaders can all count on. With blockchain, IoT, big data, and mobile computing becoming mainstream topics, the never-ending “need for speed” will continue fueling transformation. Technology leaders are key players who must strategically guide organizations through disruption and provide the insights and expertise for decisive decision-making to move fast.
So will digital transformation at some point end? Yes and no. With the expectation of never-ending disruption ahead, what will come after the “digital” transformation — the AI transformation or the VR transformation? Whatever it is, change-ready technology leaders who are focused on strategy and embrace a customer-centric mindset will be well prepared to define business outcomes and set the pace to ensure business relevancy and success. And while the “digital” part will inevitably shift at some point, continuing transformation is a safe bet for the future.
A lot has changed in the business world following the Internet boom almost two decades ago. It’s been said frequently that all businesses are now technology businesses, like it or not. From the IT perspective, we see significant philosophical and operational differences between companies that were around before the internet boom vs. those that got started during and after. It’s logical to expect that the IT challenges for a post-internet boom company like Netflix differ greatly compared to General Electric.
Leaders need to be clear not only in how IT is operating in their organizations but also how it should be working for future success and aligning to business strategy. The characteristics of post-internet boom companies highlight clear challenges and opportunities.
For example, software development companies are finding that they spend increasing time in operational tasks competing with their directive to provide more company differentiation. In addition, infrastructure and governance aspects are scattered around various areas within the company creating significant inefficiencies.
Mature organizations now operate with a better understanding of the appropriate use of infrastructure as a service, like cloud, and recognize that a decentralized set of common skills, processes and infrastructure technologies is not the most efficient way to continue operating. Now there is a huge opportunity to integrate IT more deeply into the business with the goal of creating efficiencies in common skills, process and technologies across business organizations with the development of common platforms and services.
Successful and forward-thinking IT infrastructure organizations must continue to benchmark their progress, augment skills and reorganize around more agile and software-oriented practices. For example: adopt machine learning capabilities to facilitate continual improvement, invest in automation skills to increase deployment velocity and adopt a “rapid recovery” philosophy over a “prevent every failure scenario” attitude.
When that happens, organizations will finally be able to achieve the goal that everybody was so excited about in the early 80s and the boom of the 90s: to unlock efficiencies, drive differentiation and unleash business innovation.