Digital Transformation: A Dilemma and A Way Out

By Prakash Kumar, Head of IT, BMW Group India

In today’s world every CEO is going through the dilemma of disruptive innovation, knowing that the key of this imaginative disruption is somewhere hidden in the word digital. The problem lies in the solution itself. There are value propositions in everything he can do around digitizing processes or using technologies but somewhere or other, it doesn’t lead to real disruptive innovation. The legacy pull of the organization stops it and in the end it is likely to just remain a continual improvement.

The normal path is not what can succeed in digital transformation. The journey has to be different – bold and clinical. This has to go through a complete cycle of discovery (value), design (change), deliver (ecosystem) and de-risk (failure avoidance). A few steps which is done on the way in most successful cases are

• Fresh thinking, meaning data-data-data and analysis, all around customer experience. This has to be through a paradigm shift in the thinking. It’s not the product but value proposition for the customer, is the beginning of digitization. None of the successful companies of today are product owners but value creators around the product.

• Even though the leader of the pack has to be CEO but having CDO is the next step. A CDO with the right blend of change agents is key to drive this transformation. He or she should have real customer sense, be the collaborator and excel in entrepreneurial skill. The old age companies where IT is being treated as MIS generator or hardware maintenance team is bygone and they cannot succeed in the journey. CIO should be part of this team –primary member not just enabler. He is not the old definition CIO, but a new business oriented CIO.

• The next step is the buy-in from all who are stakeholders. Be it investors or employees or the owners. This is crucial, so is the method of passing the message across the board. CEO has lot to do on this. The energy has to be created by him.

• The design work start with choosing the partners in success. The world where you get a new technology company at stone throw distance-self-indulgence in creation is no sense but you need a great sense in finding the right bill who can help you design your dream. This should be acquired or partnered is a big decision. Incubate a few startups, if it is a logical fit. This not only protects the intellectual rights but also gives almost free creative minds and setup which can easily be molded and utilized. The key again is its selection and thumb rule is “don’t try to emulate the past success.” Success models seldom repeats. To be successful, however, these capabilities need to be integrated into the main business quickly.
• Apart from the above, the role of CIO is very critical because a transformation means change and change at a very fast pace. He needs to create a two speed IT models, one which is doing rapid developments on customer-facing processes and other developing a reliable core system. New developments in DevOps (the integration of technical development and operations) and continuous delivery (the automation of testing, deployment, and infrastructure processes) have introduced capabilities that radically increase speed to market and lower costs.
• Most of the programs fails in absence of right resources or untimely availability of budgets. CEOs mindset in digital transformation has to be entrepreneurial. Budgeting cycle can be bought to even monthly cycle. Cut the legacy cost and put all money on new transformation – a method succeed more often than not is quick adaptations.

• The risk elimination of any program is through continuous monitoring and by the CEO himself. Even though it may sound unfamiliar way but he needs to monitor it like a typical project manager and metrics has to be different. The transformation is not just implementation a tool but an adaptations. You can easily put a CRM tool with most advance features to capture leads from various sources through digital ways but how much this is being adapted when it moves from digital to physical or how much analytics is being used for prediction is key to transformation.

• Nothing succeed like success and same holds true in digital transformation. The low hanging fruits, easy adaptations needs to be done first to create a glimmer of hope for the rest. Some of the effort gives high returns and some even eats up the capital. So a prudence in decision making and arresting the mistake in the beginning is also important.

While each of these aspects are important, the real value is in ability to cohesively address these and manage the change. The digital revolution has given birth to an interconnected world that binds all stakeholders together in a network of unprecedented complexity and opportunity. Making sense of those connections and building value requires a new creative model of work for success.

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