According to Gartner, business leaders want three things: growth, digitalisation and efficiency. (1) The challenge for IT is to provide a trusted digital ecosystem to connect everyone anywhere that enables creativity, collaboration and innovation to support growth. As we enter another year of uncertainty and disruption, what should be top of mind for those organisations determined to rise above the noise and thrive in the face of uncertainty?

Embrace Change

The IDC make a number of predictions for the Future of Work, which define various approaches “capable of supporting the ebb and flow of change, as the world learns to navigate new challenges,” and urge organisations to be prepared and capitalise on opportunities, whatever disruptions come along. (2) Change is an opportunity, not a threat. And when managed right, can help pave the way for organisations to make adaptions that ensure they thrive.

Keep it digital, stupid.

Regardless of KISS (keep it simple stupid), the importance of moving away from outdated ways of working and quick fixes is now widely recognised with digital transformation initially accelerated through the pandemic to keep the lights on and to enable adaption to more flexible, secure, future-proofed business models. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) sees the enduring importance of digital transformation as volatility continues, requiring remote or hybrid-first work models, redefinition of work processes, and wider engagement of diverse talent pools. (3) And ‘KIDS’ can be made simpler too, to optimise returns for any size of business, embrace remote and hybrid working, and enjoy immediate impacts with options to scale up over time.

“The BCG message is written for large enterprise but is equally applicable for small to medium-sized enterprises in terms of being strategy-led, ensuring management commitment, involving the right people, and ensuring ongoing measurement. Remaining agile is also important as the journey can't be fully planned in advance and organisations must adapt.”

Neil Maude, Head of Digital Services, Xerox Business Solutions UK 

“For businesses more concerned with a fast, demonstrable return to gain traction, a focus on smaller discrete software application investments may be a priority. With regard to scalability, that may depend on the SMB and their goals. For example, if your objective is to grow 20% in 5 years and get bought by a competitor, don't over-pay for a scalable solution that you won't need in that timeframe,” Neil advises.

Start with a plan

Gartner advises; “Establish holistic mapping and prioritization of collective initiatives,  rather than islands of task automation, to ensure synergistic and coordinated business outcomes,” and puts IT firmly in the driving seat along with fusion teams to execute effectively: “As an IT leader, the responsibility for supporting the technical end of digital business rests squarely on your shoulders. You have an opportunity to embrace force-multiplying innovations to accelerate growth and strategically drive your organization forward.”

Gartner predict that this approach will deliver, secure, trusted digital collaboration and access to underpin working from anywhere, solutions to rapidly scale digital creativity anywhere, and innovative capabilities to accelerate business growth. (1) They also provide a roadmap for digital transformation that incorporates key stages: ambition, design, deliver, scale, and refine. (4)

Similarly, the Boston Consulting Group identifies that most successful digital transformations are planned, starting with a clear idea of the critical issues you’re trying to solve. Maintaining business as usual through the pandemic provides an obvious starting point. (6) 

Success Factors

BCG has 6  foundations for effective digital transformation projects to help guide success, which are more important than money spent when addressed comprehensively:

  • Vision or Purpose - do you have clearly defined aspirations linked to competitive advantage and creating value?
  • Business Strategy - embed digital success into how you achieve your overall business goals
  • Focused Priorities - identify a small number of discrete critical use cases with clear outcomes and committed, accountable owners
  • Technology and Data - ensure the tech and data platform requirements have been clearly scoped based on the specifics of the strategy and business needs
  • Leadership - ensure leadership alignment on what it will take to drive the change in behaviors and skills
  • Roadmap - create transparency and understanding of prioritised activities, deliverables, timelines, finances, people and project management.

Ensuring growth

The BCG research suggests that using these key success factors as a guide can help any organisation to succeed, regardless of size or budget. And this investment in focus is not just about creating a short term response to challenging working conditions, but also underpins long term success.

“On average, companies that addressed the six success factors reported a 21% EBIT increase in the businesses within the scope of the transformation compared with only a 10% increase on average for those companies that did not.”

The Boston Consulting Group (5)

There’s plenty of inspiration out there for the curious, intent on rising above the competition one transformative step at a time. When better than now to re-energise your digital transformation journey at the start of another pandemic-addled year of disruption fueled by a drive for business continuity and a desire to thrive come what may?

(1) Gartner Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022 (Jan 2022)

(2)  IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Future of Work 2022 Predictions (Nov 2021)

(3)  BCG: Flipping the Odds of Digital Transformation Success  (Oct 2020)

(4) Gartner: The IT Roadmap for Digital Business Transformation (2021)

(5) BCG: Performance and Innovation Are the Rewards of Digital Transformation (Dec 2021)

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