• Michael Weeding

Redesigning the Digital Playbook

As digital continues to disrupt existing business models, executive leaders are demanding more from their digital transformation programs. As a result, digital teams are now expected to deliver a steady stream of new solutions and experiences that drive growth for the business in response to the changing needs of their customers. IDC forecasts that worldwide spending on technologies and services that enable digital transformation will reach $1.97 trillion in 2022.


The challenge faced by digital leaders is how to deliver on this expectation whilst ensuring the investment made in digital initiatives deliver commercial benefits to the organisation. A challenge made harder by the fact that in many cases the investments made into digital initiatives to date may have not returned the expected value to counter the drain these investments have had on the rest of the business.

As we move into the next phase of digital transformation organisations need to ensure that they are set up to compete in an uncertain world where competition is more complex and dynamic driven by rapid changes in consumer behaviour. Success will not be guaranteed by simply investing in the next feel good digital initiative, innovation hubs and agile models of delivery motivated by the desire to replicate operating models of leading technology companies. It requires the right resources set up to deliver a focused plan of transformation.


Digital transformation is more than just digital, it’s about remodelling businesses to be innovative, agile, and customer-centric at their core. A true digital transformation program changes everything, from how products are designed, manufactured, sold, delivered, and serviced, through to the introduction of a whole new business model. Research points to the fact that of all the companies that attempt to transform themselves digitally less than 30 percent will succeed. Where most organisations fail is that they start moving on a digital transformation agenda without a clear view of the role that digital will play in the enablement of their strategy and end up just chasing the competition. Leading digital change requires managers to have a clear vision of how to transform their company for a digital world and which part of the company they want to transform. The clearer an organisation is on its future purpose the more innovate their digital teams.


To prepare for the next phase of digital transformation organisations need to redesign their digital playbook so that they:

  • Create a future ready culture that connects digital to the organisations vision and purpose

  • Define a clear set of capabilities needed to drive future competitiveness and performanceImplement a framework that unleashes creativity and drives innovation

  • Architect a learning culture that better connects learnings with action.


1. Culture

Digital transformation is about people and process, not just technology. Therefore, the path is most often shaped by the person or group leading the effort, and inside many organisations teams are still unclear on who is accountable for leading this change. The people leading this change must have the respect and support of the CEO and the executive team. If you don’t have an organisation that is supportive and fully onboard with the transformation efforts, it’s impossible to succeed. Success will require more than a knowledge of IT. To embrace disruption, it will be critical for organisations to have a clear vision and purpose. It is then up to their digital leaders to create a future ready culture that unleashes creativity and innovation through empowering teams to curiously explore opportunities aligned to the organisations purpose. To achieve this outcome digital leaders need to implement a consistent way of working that connects people, partners and vendors so that teams are able to collaboratively work together to solve problems and tap into future customer needs.


2. Capabilities

An organisation is usually never short of new ideas. With so many shiny things to go after it can be very difficult to distinguish between investments that are needed be made ahead of the market and investments that must be in sync with market readiness. Digital transformation is more than implementing new technology. Digital investments should be focused on higher value activities that are most attainable keeping the organisations success criteria in mind. At the heart of every good digital roadmap is clearly defined set of capabilities needed to drive future competitiveness and performance. The digital playbook provides the foundation necessary to ensure investments will pave the way for teams to deliver products, solutions and experiences leveraging new technologies, supporting new audiences and changing cultures.

As it is usually difficult to attribute the impact of your digital investments on direct returns it is important to articulate where investment in digital will enable a broader customer or product strategy and when the outcome is expected to deliver a defined return on investment. As the expectation of value can differ across different stakeholders and lines of business ensuring that everyone is aligned with the attribution of value is key to ensure broader business support.


3. Innovation

The one thing that comes with digital transformation is hype. There is always new technology that dominates discussions and the fear of disruption if an organisation is unable to respond quickly to emerging business threats. As a result, it is very easy for teams leading transformation programs to become distracted and tactically focused. Agile ways of working may help improve the speed to market when addressing existing customer issues although without a focus on future market needs value can be easily lost. Executional excellence does not always result in innovation excellence. To ensure teams deliver outcomes that support the strategic objectives of the organisation and anticipate future customer needs digital transformation programs need to weave together creative ways of working and link this with a faster pipeline for delivery of digital services and solutions.


4. Learning

As digital transformation is primarily about finding new ways to engage, delight, and deliver value to customers through the delivery of exceptional digital experiences this means it is critical to take an “insights-first” approach. This begins by establishing a strong understanding of customer behaviour as a baseline for digital strategy development, experimentation, and the reallocation of capital to digital business models. Customer feedback has the potential to increase success but not if it means delaying progress. An architecture that empowers teams to get quality, timely feedback that can be relied on to make better business decisions will improve a team’s effectiveness when enhancing products or services.


Summary

As we move into the next phase of competition driven by further advancements in technology and rapidly changing consumer expectations it is important for organisations to review their approach to digital transformation. Helping digital teams transition from a pathway focused on speed to a culture that empowers them to be more thoughtful about the solutions they design and the decisions they make will put your organisation into the best position to respond to change and compete in the dynamic markets that lie ahead.


The Digital Performance Framework

I have built my career around an ability to provide structured leadership in digital driven innovation with a key focus on navigating the challenges of transformation. With an objective to build high performing digital teams with a future ready culture I have developed the Digital Performance Framework aligned to 7 core competencies, 15 categories and over 70 components. The framework creates the foundation to build a playbook to help maximise the outcomes delivered from your investments in digital. This includes creating a culture that empowers teams to deliver the right outcomes and respond to change. The direction to prioritise investment in the capabilities needed to drive future competitiveness and performance. As well as ways to create the right balance to solution innovation that unleashes creativity and drives innovation and an architecture that drives feedback helping teams make better business decisions.