How to Assess Digital Transformation Efforts
Not all organizations are succeeding with their digital transformation efforts. For one thing, the focus of their success metrics may be too narrow.
The operative word in digital transformation is “transformation,” not digital, which at least partially explains the concept’s successes and failures. If your company emphasizes digital at the expense of transformation, it may be overly focused on technology. If your company emphasizes transformation, it is more likely to address the cultural and technological aspects of digital transformation.
The different approaches use different sets of success metrics. Specifically, while one company may narrowly focus on metrics related to cloud migration or DevOps, the other measures success based on business objectives.
“Digital transformation is almost a bit of a bad name because it encourages people to buy digital products and tools as opposed to reconstructing their businesses,” said Mimi Brooks, CEO of Logical Design Solutions (LDS), a consulting firm that designs digital solutions for global enterprises. “There are still a lot of [organizations] that think becoming a digital business is about buying the digital platforms and tools that everybody else has, so I think we’ve got a bit of an idea problem there.”
Assessment should be continuous
One thing that differentiates today’s digital businesses from traditional companies is time. In the digital world, everything happens at an accelerated rate and to keep pace, businesses must evolve from periodic processes and mindsets to continuous processes and mindsets. For the past couple of decades, software development teams have been moving along a continuum of Agile, DevOps, and continuous integration and continuous delivery in a constant quest to deliver value to customers at an ever-accelerating rate. The problem with digital transformation efforts is that the continuous process mindset has not yet bubbled up and across non-digital native companies in many cases.
The business side of the house has to be as aligned around [Agile and DevOps] because they’re going to have to create roadmaps and requirements that can be turned into user stories that keep an engineering team delivering high velocity,” said Mike Cowden, president of digital transformation and software development enablement consulting company Slalom Build. “It’s a complete organizational mindset that has to take place in order for digital transformation to even happen. “
While digital natives have had the luxury of starting with a clean slate, traditional companies have to overcome the mentality of assessment, planning, execution, and evaluation as events versus continuous processes.