For all the talk of ‘digital transformation’, we know that many organisations don’t understand how digital applies to them, or what it will take to become a digital organisation. There is a need for a practical, down-to-earth explanation of how to make digital happen.
Tech businesses founded in the last 10 years are likely to be ‘digital-first’ organisations. Few will have invested in IT infrastructure and nearly all will access IT services, such as email, productivity tools and business systems, from the cloud. Staff will often collaborate by using Google Hangouts, Skype for Business, or other similar digital tools. They will innovate and plan using daily stand-ups, working groups and pilots. They will operate at pace and they won’t spend months preparing long business cases before trialling new technology. Staff will be consulted and engaged on new ideas for technology solutions. And innovation will be encouraged from all levels of the organisation. At the same time, these organisations will seek to engage customers in a deep and ongoing way using multiple digital channels.
In short, tech businesses won’t need to make digital happen – they have been immersed in it from the beginning. These start-ups provide a clue about how to make digital happen: don’t focus on the technology itself – focus on how it allows you to work and how it allows you to engage with customers. It is the pace of information flows within and beyond the organisation’s boundaries that really marks a digital organisation.
What does a digital organisation look like?
Source: RSM, September 2018
Digital affects all parts of an organisation
Sales and marketing has already been transformed by digital in many businesses, to such an extent that the CMO is often perceived as the key driver of digital change. Managing the ongoing customer experience with the help of tools from CRM to e-commerce and analytics is a fundamental part of becoming digital.
In other parts of the front office, digital technology helps remove friction points in operations. Manual processes can be automated using robotics, while the Internet of Things can offer transformational ways to improve customer service and create new revenue streams through servitisation. Production and service quality can be monitored in real-time, and the supply chain can be streamlined through automated purchasing and supplier integration. At the same time, operational performance data can be collected and analysed more quickly and accurately, allowing COOs and CFOs to reach confident decisions about improvement projects and the ROI they bring.
In the back-office, finance teams are making digital happen by adopting cloud ERP, robotic process automation and BI (business intelligence) platforms. Once the domain of stale accounting systems, the world of digital finance is now one of the most innovative parts of the organisation, using digital tools and practices to automate routine transaction work and provide insight from multiple datasets.
Even HR is not immune, with cloud-HR systems being widely adopted for the self-service features they provide to employees. And HR itself is a key enabler of making digital happen through supporting the cultural changes needed to embed innovation, problem-solving and experimentation.
And, of course, the IT function must stay relevant through allowing and enabling the adoption of digital through R&D, software pilots and delivery techniques such as Agile and DevOps – while also maintaining its key role as information security custodian.
Business leaders: What is the main benefit of digital change on your organisation?
Source: RSM, September 2018
RSM’s research reveals that middle market organisations want to make digital happen. How to get started and then embed a digital culture is a different challenge altogether. It requires confidence, it requires new skills and it requires a structured approach to linking digital investments to the organisation’s corporate strategy. Each member of the c-suite must get to grips with what it means to be a digital organisation, and be empowered to make digital change happen.