Company annual reports now regularly mention digital disrupter technologies and corporate responses to realise the business opportunity. The combination of social, mobile, analytics, cloud and internet of things (SMACIT) creates new value by building compelling services for customers, in order to increase customer satisfaction, grow revenue and drive cost efficiency – the triple benefit.

With digital lodged firmly in the boardroom consciousness, leaders have developed their digital visions and the rallying call is to ‘show me the money’ through a business case and most importantly through a successful transformation programme. However, seasoned leaders will also be aware that 70% of technology based programmes fail – by fail we mean they do not realise their original benefits case. So digital transformation brings significant opportunities and also presents unique delivery challenges.

Based on my experience of shaping and leading digital transformation programmes, the key challenges can be addressed by adopting 8 leadership principles to secure benefits:

  1. Customer is King. Listen to the voice of the customer, act on it and anchor the digital transformation around the end to end customer journey. Digital is about putting together a compelling customer proposition and service. That means putting customers at the centre of transformation to structure new ways of working and enterprise capabilities around them.
  2. Have Plan A, B and C Ready. Digital transformation is not linear, it requires an agile mode of delivery and scenario driven release planning. Digital programmes need to move away from the super tanker model having poor agility. By understanding the management levers for business case sensitive variables, the functional release scenarios can be modelled against the benefit options. Regular external assurance of the programme also informs agile decision making, through timely leading and lagging indicators.
  3. Digitalisation with Representation. Digital cuts across all the organisation and partner ecosystem so wider stakeholder groups need representation in programme governance structures. Digital transformation governance must include more than the senior business owner, senior user and supplier representatives. Risk, compliance, partners, legal and IT need to be involved in the governance hierarchy. A healthy tension should exist between the design of new ways of working and regulatory obligations.
  4. Ecosystem Control. Digital services cannot be delivered by the resources of a single organisation and it is crucial that external or internal dependencies are agreed. Digital is structured along the customer journey which will span 3rd party provider ecosystems, as well as other in-house programmes. Priority needs to be given to agreeing and locking such dependencies down from the outset.
  5. Business with Technology.  Digital technology enables transformation of the business, so changes to the business operating model are a priority. Business design will need to cater for a more agile, customer centric, ‘always on’ way of working to support faster product/ service releases. The implications for people, skills and processes need to be addressed in the design. Change has to be managed across all front, middle and back office customer journey touch points.
  6. Data as Lifeblood. Digital creates value through the use or analysis of existing data and the creation of new data. Data architecture needs to move from being a ‘dark IT art’ into a business owned agenda. The right data should be captured in a standard format for a single view of the customer, to support analytics and real time decisioning. Data needs to be protected, so risk assessments should drive effective preventative and detective controls to protect from cyber or internal threats.
  7. Channels of Choice. Mobile, branch, store, telephony, internet and mail based customer channels are in various states of growth and decline. Customer choice channels need to be offered and transition to preferred channels have to be managed. Architecting and building for mobile first with re-use into other channels, realises cost efficiencies and provides a pathway to the omni-channel experience sought by customers.
  8. Innovation Never Sleeps. The external environment or competitors do not stand still during digital transformation programmes, so innovate to maximise benefits realisation. The rate at which new digital services, solutions and technologies are emerging can now be measured in months, well within programme elapsed times. Scan any new digital opportunities that align to the digital vision, by assessing feasibility through the programme design authority or change control impact process.

Boardroom support, a clear digital vision and an underpinning business case get you into the digital game. Winning is about successful delivery and execution of transformation programmes to secure benefits.

Adopting these 8 guiding principles sets digital leaders up for success to increase customer satisfaction, grow revenue and drive cost efficiency to realise the triple benefit.

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