Thoughts ...

Everybody is talking about digital transformation

In the past there was business transformation, now it’s all about digital transformation … I’m sure they’ll be something new in the future – maybe ‘Remote Blended Transformation’ (heard it here first)

Digital transformation is a heavily used marketing term, where the key word is transformation – taking a service and completely transforming it. Most type of transformation I hear about are pieces of work that involve tweaks or minor changes – some are merely digitising a paper-based process.

True digital transformation should be based upon efficiencies of a process or service with the employment of digital technology along with impacts on cultural and process changes.

Examples include:

  • Taxi – Changes in the way you use a taxi, in the past you’d book a cab on the telephone or flag one down, not knowing when it would turn up or how much your journey would cost and no way to rate your drive, the taxi and the whole journey – then Uber came along.
  • Watching films – Changes in the way you watch films, you’d queue up at the cinema, try and figure out the best seat, watch the film and not be allowed to talk (as I do) through the film. Then video shops opened, like Blockbuster, where you could hire a film – if they had it in stock and watch it at your leisure. – Netflix then came along which allowed you to watch what you want, when you want and on any of the screens (TV, PC, laptop, tablet and phone) you own – and also allow several members of your family to have full access.

In businesses, a number of digital transformation project have failed as they have missed the point of the transformation. As mentioned the focus should be based upon efficiencies of a process or service with the employment of digital technology along with cultural and process changes.

Examples should include a combination of:

  • Self service management of personal information, subscriptions categories of communication (email/letters/text messages)
  • Just in time production based on orders and patterns of sales reduces loss and wasted time.
  • Reviewing all the data your process capture, undertake detailed analytics and turning it into decision-based information to improve your business.

Effective digital transformation starts focusing on data, data and data – look at the data you can and do collect, establish where you store it so it can be easily accessible through an app or web page and presented in an attractive way so information-based decisions can be made.

There are several methods to assist you (including ASSIE – Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation) but by far the best approach is to adopt the appreciative agile approach also known as the collaborative 5 D’s. We like to think we are all problem solving machines, we look for issues and seek quick solutions while critiquing and advocate for our solution – this approach has deficiencies in that it looks back and can be negative in content.

The appreciative agile approach seeks to ask appreciative questions that look at what is present and not what is missing. It inspires on past successes and invites you to tell a story which encourages exploration fostering a ‘learner’ rather than a ‘judgemental’ mindset.

Appreciative questions include:

  1. What are some possibilities we haven’t considered?
  2. What’s the smallest change that could make the biggest impact?
  3. What solutions would have us both win?
  4. What is it about our [work, meetings etc.] that keeps us interested and energised?
  5. How might we . . .?

The 5 D’s cover :

  1. Discuss – decided what the topic should be.
  2. Discover – Appreciate the best of what is.
  3. Design – Imagine what could be.
  4. Develop – Create what will be.
  5. Deliver – Make the magic happen.

This is where the magic starts and involves a thoughtful, inquiry-based process of discussions in which the needs and opportunities around a particular project are outlined, creating a vision for the future.

Building a scope of work agreement and scheduling kick-off meetings involving all stakeholders (PM, design, dev-ops, ill-stack developers, customers). Asking questions around some of the areas below, creating and building a story supported by simple process mapping on paper (including a register of assets):

  • Audience: Who are the consumers, and needs in this area.
  • Investment: Costs, resources and returns.
  • Content: To be able to see and change.
  • Technology: Platforms, tools, and technologies.

Is not about capturing everything, this is an iterative process but ensure you are clear about the media devices you’ll be designing a solution for. Focus on reusing services in place will save time, a support your strategy for consolidation of services. Asking questions around some of the areas below, building a plan supported by simple process mapping on paper (including a register of assets):

  • Strategies and Technologies: Leveraging current strategies and identifying the tools and technologies to be utilised
  • Resource Scheduling: Identifying milestones or sprints – each start, middle and end points – allocating resources required.
  • Evaluation and Testing: Identify evaluation and testing points, responsible roles for collecting, analysing and reporting on results.

This is where the guys in the back room start building pages, sites and apps. Asking questions around some of the areas below, building platforms, apps and pages:

  • Web Development: Efficient, screen-reader friendly, web-optimised templates
  • Media Development: Video production, use of high-quality video and animation leading to richer user experience that positively impacts engagement and retention.
  • User Experience and Accessibility: Build on what’s worked before, Once developed and tested, ready for the launch

The delivery or implementation stage is often where teams checkout, although this a key stage ensuring the adoption and success of the service. A learning-loop of discovering adoption and learning experience complemented with a support service in place feeding into future discussion and discovery stages.

Photo by Alicia Jo McMahan from FreeImages