What most organizations need in their adoption of digital solutions is basically to take three steps. The first and most important is to take control of their Digital Transformation journey, which means to have a plan for the whole organization’s adoption of digital technologies. The second step involves getting the most important data structured across all units and systems, and usually involves a Master Data Management initiative. The third step is to make the needed functionality easily available to the whole organization, and this is about creating omnichannel services that can support all touchpoints, like web sites, mobile apps, and other smart things. Some of these services are internal (for employees) and some are made externally available (for customers and partners), usually through a public API.
The omnichannel services should become the answer to the question “What can our organization do?” and the important point is to focus on the need rather than the existing capabilities. If customers or employees need something, it is the role of the omnichannel services to meet that need. If the back-end systems cannot meet the need, a fast and efficient solution needs to be found. It means that the solution could be temporary and not “as it should be”, which is something that have to be managed, and as soon as the back-end systems can handle the need, the temporary fix can be replaced with a more solid and long-term solution. I believe that this process is the most important to manage by a CIO or enterprise architect, that should also have the focus on meeting the need before keeping a completely “clean” system setup.
Employee needs usually comes through the COO (from the operational part of the organization) and customer needs usually comes through the CMO (via the marketing department), so it means that these three executive roles need to cooperate very closely and also share the same vision. In my view that is the most important part of a Digital Transformation initiative.
The role of a public API for most organizations, especially public institutions, cannot be overrated. Putting an API in place means that the market can start experimenting with the information and functionality available. It means that there is no need for the organization to invest in building touchpoints for all their functionality, and there will probably be a larger set of options to choose from for the end user.
Surprisingly few organizations have a solid set of omnichannel services in place, and even fewer has a public API, which I think this is something that needs to change. As more organizations become Digital Masters, i.e. that gain the full benefits of becoming a digital organization, I think this will happen.
Please also see my video on the same subject.