Digital transformation (DX) is one of the few terms that has managed to break through the barrier from buzzword to a vital aspect of almost every organisation, but it is not always an easy endeavour to undertake.
As over half of all organisations in New Zealand, including our own Government, are on their DX journey, many are finding themselves hitting challenges that can stall and even kill their attempts to stay relevant.
On Friday, IDC IT executive programs group vice president Joseph Pucciarelli presented to a room of Kiwi CIOs with a little advice on how to get past the digital deadlock.
We are rapidly approaching the point that, inspired by Pucciarelli, I will call the Windscreen Point - will you be a leader of DX, stay relevant and push through the hardest parts of the transformation, or will you give up and be absorbed or disappear?
Will you be the windscreen or the bug?
To illustrate the importance of DX, Pucciarelli points to the technologies that we were talking about three years ago - robot cocktail servers on cruise ships and 3D printing plastic body parts for cars.
He then shows us how those ‘toys’ are now working at scale - Walmart is using robots that can take a full department store’s inventory in two evenings, and Boeing has released an aeroplane with a titanium frame that was 17.5% 3D printed.
The crux of this comparison is what underlines the presentation - organisations, especially in New Zealand, need to think about the outcomes of their DX journeys in a different way.
To give a little local context to his stats, Pucciarelli compares the international numbers that IDC has gathered, to those gathered by respondents at last week's CIO Summit.
For starters, 78% of the Kiwi respondents said that they do not have any digital KPIs, in other words, they have no substantial way to actually measure their success as the go down this path.
Pucciarelli says that in order to stay on track with DX, organisations need to have two kinds of KPIs, just like with any monitoring of success - the classic gold standard that reports on the visible and real results, and operational KPIs that can guess at where things will be in the coming months.
“Remember,” he says, “we get what we measure.”
But as these measurement criteria are created, IT professionals, whether internal or channel partners, need to be in conversation with the leadership about what DX really means.
It is not necessarily about improving revenue, but making sure that you are the windscreen and not the bug.
Pucciarelli refers to a study he did about organisations that took on previous hot topic, EDI tech.
Years later, while those that made the effort to integrate EDI solutions had not received significant, measurable RoI from it. However, those that did not, were nearly all no longer in business - they were now bugs on a windshield.
Trying to be a visionary IT manager, liaise with the business leaders, guide ongoing projects, and implement new systems sounds like a bit of a nightmare when you are also trying to run the day to day of any organisation.
Pucciarelli’s advice - “Outsource the IT pots and pans. Focus your talent on what is going to create value and outsource the rest.”
Work with the leaders within the organisation to help them realise that once you declutter and let your internal IT people focus on value creation, it will give the organisation the best chance of being a survivor in the increasingly competitive business world.
Measure, set appropriate expectations, and focus on value to establish your organisation’s place as the windscreen, not the bug.