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Seven elements of successful digital transformations

By Anya Minbiole, Director, Microsoft Digital Advisory Services on June 7, 2017

Filed under IT Leader

“What got you here, won’t get you there” – has never been truer for companies.

By now, all of us are customers of, or employees of, companies that have embraced digital transformation. These companies have decided to define their businesses by what is possible, instead of what has made them successful in the past.

Picture of Anya MinbioleI’m Anya Minbiole, and I run programs supporting Digital Advisors. Microsoft Digital Advisory Services is a team within Microsoft Services. Digital Advisors bring their expertise, as well as Microsoft’s resources, experience and innovation, to empower organizations to reach their digital aspirations. We partner to drive a program of change to build our customers’ digital business, and our website can be found here: Microsoft Digital Advisory Services.

I am inspired every day by stories of Digital Transformation, but when I describe it to others, I realize there are often large differences in what that means to different people. What is Digital Transformation for me? One convenient way to think about it for a company is to ask, “What if 20% of our revenue in 2020 had to come from products and services that don’t exist today?” A public sector entity may ask themselves “What if 20% of our budget had to be spent to support citizen services we don’t offer today?”

When I look over the projects that our Digital Advisors have led with organizations this year, I see some patterns in their success stories, including:

#1 – Successful teams think big
Screen grab from video of virtual reality display of a plane engineOpen up your mind, question your assumptions, visualize your idea of the future, and start your planning from there. It can take days to really place yourself in your vision of the future, and groups can fall short of “re-imagining” when they don’t think far enough ahead. For a great example of this, read “Zero footprint, endless possibilities” by Volker Strasser.

#2 – Success comes when bold thoughts lead to concrete action
Once you envision the future, be it 10, 20, 50, maybe even 100 years ahead, there is a cliff looming in front of you. A strong vision paired with an actionable plan is a key to success. Our team in India collaborated with Amway India to envision, then create, a real brick-and-mortar store. Read “Launching a first-of-its-kind store in the digital era” by Abhrajit Ray.

#3 – A Fingerprint is not a Touch ID
When you work on a transformation of a customer, product or employee experience, don’t lose sight of your audience’s perspective. Some projects miss the mark when they de-emphasize human experience design. As an example, my friend bought a digital scale the other day that – as an option – doesn’t display your weight. Instead, once you define your ideal weight or goal, it displays how far you are from your goal. The scale eliminates the mental math that has followed most weigh-ins since time immemorial. This example illustrates how even existing technology can power new experiences that delight customers. Are you putting enough focus on user experience design? At the end of the day it’s not about technology – whether existing, or cutting edge – it is about what effect it will have on its users. Focus on creating cutting-edge human experiences.

#4 – Plan and celebrate quick wins
Picture of executives meeting around a table looking at a presentation on a computer screen Wins inspire a team’s confidence, and reduce some of the pressure that groups can feel when they’re given the responsibility of innovating. Place small bets that move you towards your vision of the future – not to be confused with incremental improvements. Fail fast and experiment, and uncover the next billion-dollar idea. An example of this is the Human Telemetry project led by one of our Digital Advisors in Italy, which experienced a series of successes that support the team’s much larger plan for the future. Read “Human telemetry brings people back to work” by Alessandro Lombardi.

#5 – Nurture and build the capability in house
You might be surprised to hear this from a vendor, but the best success comes when you can develop the in-house capability to think forward, evolve ideas, fail fast or double down, and move on. Successful companies nurture the group by isolating them from the bureaucracy that can riddle large organizations. Then, nurture the capability within an organization by ensuring it is not subject to traditional measures of success. Part of Beckton-Dickinson’s success has been ensuring the organization infused innovation into its DNA to continuously advance its goals. Read more about Becton-Dickinson in “Healthcare breakthroughs powered by digital” by Phil Eng.

#6 – Think broadly about the human supply chain
Image of a man and woman talking in a business settingThe smartest people on the planet for our particular projects are probably not working at our companies. Now, more than ever, we must find experts that can air-drop in to support our projects. We can also find incredible talent at all parts of our organizations – so look high, look low, and look outside for just-in-time insights.

#7 – Think like a disruptor
Remember that your competitors aren’t asking for permission to encroach upon your business. Think about your company as if you’re starting from scratch – what would you do if you wanted to compete with your own organization? For some examples, read “The digital transformation of products” by Brook Karen.

 

For further inspiration, read about Digital Transformation from the perspective of our Digital Advisors:
“Zero footprint, endless possibilities” by Volker Strasser
Germany-based Carl Zeiss AG has envisioned a future that empowers employees to do their best work. Their Zero Footprint vision includes a video that helps demonstrate to employees what their own company’s future holds.

“Launching a first-of-its-kind store in the digital era” by Abhrajit Ray
While Amway is one of the world’s largest direct selling businesses, it has decided to complement those assets with brick-and-mortar stores. One of its first is in India, and the vision for the store was created using Microsoft Services.

“Imagining the city of the future with Cities Unlocked” by Linda Chandler
The ideas of Digital Transformation are alive and well in the public sector. As populations shift to the cities, Smart Cities are our future. In this blog, Linda Chandler outlines the key principles of the Anywhere Workplace, and describes the City of the Future.

“The digital transformation of products” by Brook Karen
Brook describes the digital transformation of products, and explores examples.

“Human telemetry brings people back to work” by Alessandro Lombardi
Alessandro describes how mirror neuron research and Kinect can create a new approach to patient rehabilitation.

“Healthcare breakthroughs powered by digital” by Phil Eng
Phil Eng discusses the digital transformation of Becton Dickinson to improve patient care.

“When your goal is to be the most livable city in the world” by Mark Butterworth
Auckland Transport wants to propel the city to reach its goal of “Most Livable City,” in the face of a population doubling in 25 years.

“Create connections with fans and win – in sports and in business” by Alberto Pinedo
Alberto Pinedo describes how he helped LaLiga take a new approach to player performance and improve the football league’s connection with fans across the globe.

Revolutionizing the supply chain through digital product profiles” by Franck Goron
Uniquely identifying manufactured products via serialization is at the heart of supply chain digital transformation. Read more about the Adents solution.

“Bots & personal assistants: Indispensable tools or mere gadgets?” by Sylvian Cionneau
Wondering how bots will change our lives? Digital Advisor Sylvain Cionneau from France provides some insights about the new generation of personal assistants.

 

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