Digital transformation is a ‘strategic reinvention’, where businesses leverage new technology to make internal processes more efficient. In the fast paced and increasingly unstable marketplace of global commerce, small, medium and large organisations have to adopt new agile practices and software in order to remain competitive and to future-proof their operations. In a world of social media monologues and uncertain politics where market perception can change on a dime, the ability to improve systems to suit prevailing conditions is a real and tangible benefit for growing businesses. In the words of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his bestselling book Antifragile, the businesses that win are those that, “benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty.” This is the goal of all digital transformation and the ideal state of the modern business, but confusion still lingers around the term.
Here is what digital transformation is not.
It is not digital marketing. It is not an all-consuming focus on getting customers to buy more of your service or product. Instead, think of it as a change in attitude, conceived by an objective and impartial view of your company as it currently stands. Do the processes you have in place work or could they be improved upon? Are processes documented or are they in the heads of your employees, simply because “it’s always been done that way?” If you answered yes to one or both, these are symptoms of a wider issue – one that an adoption and embracing of new technology can solve and simplify.
In a Censuswide survey we commissioned, where managers in finance, manufacturing and professional services were asked what they thought about digital transformation, we discovered that over half (59%) did not feel well equipped or prepared for increased digitisation, whether that be the overhauling of legacy systems or moving to the cloud. When asked why previous planned transformation projects had not gone ahead, they cited, amongst other things, “overcomplicated processes” and “concerns about other things.”
You can read more on our findings about businesses sleepwalking into a digital future here. The important point, however, is that business leaders are putting off digital transformation because they fear things that, for all intents and purposes, can be easily solved.
Can you relate to any of these common reasons for delaying digital transformation below?
We all fear change in some form or another. It manifests itself in strange ways but is most commonly heard in business circles as the phrase, “that’s the way we’ve always done it”. This is an attitude that pervades all levels of a business, from the C-suite down to the recently graduated junior admin. When things have been good for so long we forget to remember our need to constantly improve and innovate our internal processes. This self-imposed inertia is comfortable but ultimately self-defeating. When we let it run our thought process as strategists we have indirectly guaranteed that we will, eventually, be left behind by more agile and responsive competitors. Without a willingness to adopt new tech and move with the times we can look forward to a future of declining sales, less customer engagement and eroding market share.
Lack of buy-in from key stakeholders
Business leaders everywhere have a duty of care to their organisation to ensure its continued success. When those at the top of the pyramid are uninformed or uneducated about emerging tech and potential opportunities for innovation they are doing a disservice to the departments that rely on their leadership. Digital transformation requires buy-in from all levels of the hierarchy, from CEO to admin assistant, but ultimately the sign off comes from above. If leaders play it safe or fall victim to this attitude there will follow a period of stagnation, followed by a decline in staff engagement and subsequent increase in staff turnover. As a business head it is their job to drive potential innovations, analyse the pros and cons and embrace the change, in order to liberate their employees to do the same.
Lack of buy-in from separate departments
When analysing the results of our survey, we discovered that 50% of organisations need buy-in from teams outside of technical to move forward with digital transformation projects. Depending on the size of your organisation, this can be a huge task. It is not uncommon to hold hours and hours of meetings without reaching a decision. This itself is an inefficient process, but the ramifications are even more harmful. While departments are squabbling over what is best for them, rather than the organisation as a whole, your competitors are getting ahead. The longer you cling to legacy systems that are slow, clunky and patched up with add-ons, the harder it will be to move into the future with faster, more robust solutions. Again, the prevailing direction of the business must come from its leadership team and the respective heads of department. The only way to ensure this is to take a high-level, impartial view of current processes and put them under the microscope, with the attitude of, “forget what we have done up until now – how do we make this better?”
Cost and complexity
A few years ago, before the mainstream adoption of cloud computing and agile software components, the cost and timeframe of a digital transformation project would have been eye-watering. Legacy systems are, almost always, relatively inflexible and uncommunicative with each other. Back before the mass communication revolution, employees learned to do things the “old-fashioned” way, i.e. by hand and with extensive creative license, in order to make up for the lack of integration between systems. Ask anybody who has printed off two contracts in order to mail one and scan one for HR records. In the eyes of most leaders, the cost and complexity of changing these processes is too much to think about. After all – it’s worked up until now. But what happens when Mary from accounts leaves and no one understands the invoicing process? Can you really hire and retain the best talent if an update to industry regulations can throw your systems into a tailspin?
We stated previously that these issues are easy to solve but it probably doesn’t look that way from where you are standing. The truth is, business process management, automation and the other tools that can revolutionise businesses were once expensive and time-consuming, with complex roadmaps culminating in a delivery that often underperformed. Fortunately, this is no longer the reality. Low code tools, such as those provided by the award-winning Appian – of whom Procensol is a trusted partner – can be scoped and delivered in as little as two weeks. Drag-and-drop and advanced integration functionalities make creating and improving business systems, as well as enhancing synergy between different software applications, easy and viable for all parties involved, from marketing to I.T. This creates a business that not only moves in the right direction but adapts to obstacles in the road – even if you get caught sleeping behind the wheel.
As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella once said, “every company is a software company”. Low code is just the next step in that evolution.
If you have been putting off digital transformation and would like to know more about the low code solution to your business problems, watch this exclusive interview with Procensol co-founder Steve Huckvale, senior BPM consultant Tharshula Selvarasa, Head of Appian Practice Phil Bye, and Principal Consultant Tim Clarke. They explore what digital transformation really means and how it can help your business experience what is, ultimately, a metamorphosis – from reactive and increasingly brittle to proactive and ready for the future.