Creating a Digital Business Transformation Roadmap

December 4, 2019 Andres F. Garcia

Digital business transformation happens on a scale and speed that many managers find both threatening and promising. It’s a journey that must be approached and navigated mindfully.

What is Digital Business Transformation? 

Organizational change using digital technologies to materially improve performance.

At Appirio, we work digital business transformation under a four-pillar journey (Implementation, User/Customer Experience, Operation, and Financial Success) driving our customer to a true return on investment. This leverages the vision, strategy, and goals of the plan for our customer’s business with a long-term vision, minimizing business disruption. 

As cloud solutions developers and implementation experts, we know our customers see cloud technology adoption as a way to reduce the total cost of ownership and move from capital to an operational expenditure model to gain speed to market, which is the current trend. Salesforce, Google, and Microsoft are all good examples of cloud solutions, but where to start your digital business transformation with these solutions? 

Well, you would need to start understanding the internal state of your organization, leadership vision, business and IT strategy, and the capabilities and business network that your business is connected to. At Appirio, we call that step “The Vision.” 

The Vision. To craft a future-proof roadmap, it is paramount to understand the stakeholder vision for the organization. The goal is to understand the importance of digital transformation and map relevant strategic components of the digital transformation based on complexity and importance. The outcome is the prioritization of key strategic components of digital transformation based on their perceived importance and urgency by the leadership team. 

Understanding your current state and pain points. There are several tools and frameworks that can be leveraged at this stage to evaluate the existing environment. From our experience, discovery workshops are effective in understanding key stakeholders’ existing pain points. You also need to assess organizational in terms of capabilities, best practices, and KPI benchmarks. Conduct a detailed pain-point analysis for each transformation area and align pain points to solution enablers. Prepare heat maps based on the alignment of pain points to capabilities and solutions. Prioritize these capabilities and solutions based on inputs from leadership discussions and discovery workshops. Some key aspects to consider here include: 

  • The existing landscape – stability, complexity, customization, etc. 
  • Current usage capabilities and functionalities – overlapping applications scope 
  • Use of leading practices – level of operational excellence 
  • End-user expectations and level of satisfaction 

Creating Possible Solutions. A rapid approach to visualizing future-state “blue sky” thinking that can help shape and guide your digital business transformation strategy. Appirio uses design thinking to guide future-state design concepts for your project. In a short amount of time, the team produces proof-of-concept designs that can rally project stakeholders and serve as a starting point for future exploration through wireframes, mockups or solution demos. 

Identifying implementation strategies and deployment options. In the digital era, there are scores of implementation strategies to choose from, including system conversion, greenfield implementation, and hybrid implementation. To identify the right strategy, identify a list of key decision factors and assign a weight to each based on business inputs. Calculate a weighted average for each deployment option using key decision factors and select the option with the most favorable score. Some key decision criteria to consider include business disruption, new functionality, standardized best practices, the time to realize the benefit, and hardware or third-party license costs. Then consider deployment options and evaluate the pros and cons for each.  

Building your digital business transformation roadmap. Based on your implementation strategy, deployment option, prioritized solutions, and heat maps prepare a detailed roadmap for the multi-year digital transformation journey. Factors like business transformation, solution capabilities, technology dependencies, organizational change management, and data management should all be represented against near-term, midterm, and long-term timelines depicting the journey from the organization’s current state to the future digital state. 

Executing and Delivering. Rapid execution and delivery of digital initiatives are vital. The process used for developing a digital initiative must be designed from a complete user experience perspective and delivered using a highly iterative and agility-based delivery methodology. Time to market must be as short as possible.

Once live, you must constantly monitor usage and actively seek feedback from customers and have a steady flow of new features and functionality. Be bold in trying new features and listening for what customers think, then deploy changes quickly.

Use agile engineering practices such as test-driven development. Many organizations start their digital initiatives within particular business units. However, it is important that the customer sees an end-to-end, joined-up digital experience. Delivering digital initiatives through an overall digital platform through which you can continually evolve, and package and present services from the back end, partner, and third-party systems, to help ensure investments in particular business unit initiatives can be deployed enterprise-wide  

When we examine digital business transformation roadmaps in different industries, seven factors stand out: 

  1. Clarity of purpose is essential. Senior managers must have the vision and competence to lead digital transformation 
  2. Change must include the frontline workforce. This improves customer engagement and provides better customer and product information. 
  3. Digital transformers must understand the need to invest in technology platforms that are sufficiently robust and flexible to be implemented and utilized throughout the company. 
  4. Managers must develop employees’ ability to effectively use information, as analytics becomes an increasingly large part of the competencies of the workforce on all levels. 
  5. Senior executives must take the lead in modeling the values and behaviors associated with effective knowledge and information use in the digitally enabled company – integrity, transparency, trust, sharing, and proactive use of knowledge for decision-making starts at the top. 
  6. Measuring progress on the journey to developing digital business capabilities is essential for maintaining momentum for continuous improvement.  
  7. Executives must balance an execution-oriented culture with the inevitability of disruptive change in and across industries. This is the “new normal” for many established companies going forward – the adoption curve of digital technologies is accelerating, not slowing, in the global economy. 

Remember: digital business transformation is a journey, not a destination! Appirio can help you create one for your organization: Let’s talk about how we can help yours. 

About the Author

Andres F. Garcia

Andres F. Garcia is the Principal Consultant at Appirio's Digital Strategy Practice. He leverages people, process, and technology to establish a CRM strategy that aligns with business strategy, engages stakeholders, and supports the development of a "World-Class" sales, service, and marketing organization.

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