Digital Transformation is not about technology

Digital transformation

Since 2015 MOLO17 creates innovative digital solutions with a 30-resources team, about 20 of which are devoted to software development. At date, we have in our portfolio banks, universities, small international startups, but the fil rouge is always the same: winning together technologically advanced challenges. That is what we can do better, fully aware that technology isn’t everything.

In the summarized article “Digital Transformation is not about technology” – published by Harvard Business Review in March 2019, the professor and transformational leadership consultant Behnam Tabrizi offers his point of view, synthesizing 5 lessons in support of his thesis.

Digital Transformation: Why is this article interesting for MOLO17

In this article clearly emerges the business acumen of the author: the first quantitative fact used to take a picture of the 2019 scenario tells that digital transformation (DT) seems to be the first risk factor monitored by CEO and executives. Despite this great attention, 70% of DT initiatives have not reached the expected goals, with a large amount of money wasted.

Tabrizi has an opinion about why this happens: it is all a question of mindset. In his idea, digital technologies offer the chance to gain efficiency and depth in the relationship with the clients. If the actors appointed of implementing transformative strategies are unable to change or the organizational practices are misleading, DT will point a big spotlight on these shortcomings.

In order to give a constructive critic, he summarizes 5 lessons from real situations that he experienced in his successful strategic consultancies.

Understanding business strategy before making any investment for the digital transformation

Leaders who aim to increase organizational performance with digital transformation often have a tool in their mind: “We need a strategy for machine learning” – but frequently a broader strategic vision is needed.

Taking as example a case study, he quotes a consultancy given to a mobile app marketplace that had defined three major priorities, velocity, innovation and digitization.

The consultancy decided to make an intervention to reduce the production time, increase the speed-to-market and improve the use of data in the global supply chain.

Only after having strategically defined these objectives, they went on defining the correct technological instruments for their achievement. The lesson is that there are no tools capable of bringing “velocity” or “innovation” d’emblee: the best combination for an organization varies in function of the vision.

Leverage the internal resources that hold the know-how for digital transformation

The organizations that pursue innovation often employ external consultants, who easily propose one-size-fits-all solutions in the name of the so-called best practices. Instead, Tabrizi suggests relying trustfully on the opinion of the insiders, the staff who have deep knowledge in the daily life of the service.

A practical example is a company reorganization. Objective: to increase efficiency and customer experience. The external team converted consulting tools, designed on the previous experiences in distributed processes, adapting diagrams and software to a more centralized model – because the front office staff, who helds customers’ know-how suggested this.

This lesson recalls that new technologies fail in improving organization, not because technology is lacking but because of the lack of knowledge of internal resources..

Designing user experience talking with the customers

If DT’s objective is to improve customer satisfaction and intimacy of the relationship that is created with them, it is essential to precede the execution by a throughout diagnostic phase. This consulting experience quotes a project that saw a collection of ninety client surveys in order to hear from them an opinion about the strength and weakness points of the organization to be transformed. To this were added several focus groups that helped to define the priorities of intervention and to configure ad hoc different aspects of the technological tools that have delivered the digital transformation.

The lesson we get here is that the leaders often expect a single tool or app implementation to increase  customer satisfaction. Instead, experience teaches that small calibrations in different tools at different points in the value chain are more effective in order to maximize customer satisfaction.

Recognize employees’ fear of being substituted during the digital transformation phase

When internal resources realize that DT could menace their job, consciously or not they could resist change. For this, it is fundamental that the leaders recognize these situations and proceed with empathy towards the interlocutors, to make them comprehend that digital transformation is a chance of growing, upgrading their competencies and increasing their market value.

In this article’s advice it is quoted a consolidated consultant habit, which consists of asking the employees to express their biggest strengths in the organization and to place that in the new organizational process. This allows transferring to them part of the control in the transformation: not on what will be done, but on how.

Technology can therefore become the means with which to enhance the different abilities of individuals.

Importing Silicon Valley’s startup culture in the organization

Silicon Valley’s startups are globally recognized for the agility in decision-making, rapid prototyping and flat hierarchical structures. Digital transformation is inherently uncertain: changes have to be temporary and quickly modifiable;  decisions must be taken rapidly; working teams involved must come from all organizational units. Tabrizi suggests to adopt a flat hierarchical model that goes beyond the pre-existing organization.

The necessity for agility and for rapid prototyping is even stronger here than in the other change management initiatives because technologies and apps involved could be multiple and interdependent. It is necessary to be able to act without too many decisional flows, otherwise there is no time to verify the effectiveness of an improvement in parallel with the others in progress, implementing extensive horizontal solutions to collect sufficient data to prove the success of the chosen tools.

Conclusion: MOLO17 is open innovation, sharing and confrontation

With this showcase, MOLO17 wants to tell which themes are affecting the evolutionary strategy of the company. The aim is to share with an open approach the sources considered most valuable, the most interesting information and the approach with which the company interprets innovation.

If you like this kind of article and you have similar topics to talk about, ask for an e-coffee with its author, Riccardo Mazzolo.

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