Digital transformation, is it a cacophony of numerous technology breakthroughs or is it a symphony of the right technology notes, improving the ebb and flow of any business model. In other words, an orchestra played out by various technology instruments, all coming together to produce a masterpiece of sorts. The masterpiece however, has customer delight as its primary chorus, and it will continue striking the right chord to make businesses run smoother, faster and smarter. It is of paramount importance, of course, to assess a company’s goal and culture, before one embarks on this beautiful journey, and journey it is, for it’s a collective note of continuously evolving objectives.
To embark on the digital transformation voyage organizations must adapt to a three-pronged approach as schematically represented below:
Assess: This is the time where any digital transformation agent expends detailed effort in understanding the organization’s vison, goal and strategy. As an output they define the road map, which involves identification of target processes, creation of small POCs to test the strategy before embarking on the digital transformation journey.
Adapt and Advance: This is the core of the entire digital transformation saga, a perfect blend of people, process and technology. It is important that Digital transformation must never be isolated to a process or technology but as strumming of simpler notes, that pave the path for something truly tangible. Here is a schematic representation of core of Digital Transformation in motion.
Availability: The central theme for digital transformation is to ensure that the goods and services are reimagined, rechristened and refined by leveraging digital technologies. This translates to ensuring that the goods and services are available to the consumers transcending the barriers of time, platform, geography, media. For this organizations must continuously strive to have development platforms, tools and competencies well geared to ensure multi tenancy and platform independence in all the applications and systems that they develop.
Analytics: Data and evidence-based decisions is the corner stone of any digital transformation initiative. The euphoria of data obtained through the usage of the goods and services that are made available to the customers, enables enterprises to make calculated decisions on the effectiveness of their transformation initiatives in meeting the objectives. It is this data which facilitates cognitive automation. This data must always be presented visually leveraging the right visualization technologies.
Automation: Right from the invention of wheel to the modern day Robotic Process Automation, automation has always been revolutionary. In the digital paradigm, automation has a very significant role to play in terms of reducing the gestation period from envisioning to implementation. The influx of data brings in cognitive capability to automation. RPA for Business Process and Testing, DevOps automation, and Virtual Reality are some of the manifestations of automation to hasten the refinement of services and goods offered based on the data analytics.
Agility: In this fast-paced environment, every moment lost is an opportunity lost. This criticality of time warrants effective, efficient and convenient process to ensure that any changes to the goods and services are implemented in a blink of an eye. Extensive documentation, length review feedback cycles are giving way to real time baselining of requirements using tools like Invision to define requirements using UX tenets through continuous collaboration. The days of sprints have long given way to jumps and leaps.
At the core of the virtuous circle are the following:
- Alignment to business needs: Whether it is the automation of any process or analysis of any data or making services available, their relevance to the end customer’s business must always have the laser focus.
- Innovation: All the concerned must understand the true definition of innovation, which is to focus on only those ideas which result in an output having a tangible value to the end customer and the customer is ready to pay for it.
- Strategic alignment: There is always a tendency for enterprises to consider digital transformation to be a bandwagon and launch a plethora of initiatives. It is important that the enterprises define the long-term plan and strategic initiatives before getting lost in the digital Amazonia.
Technological enunciators for digital transformation: The choice of technology is very critical for any kind of transformation; the choice becomes significantly relevant in the case of digital transformation as the turnaround time expected is very short. Some of the sample technological options catering to the different facets of the virtuous circle are as mentioned below:
- Application development using more of scripting technologies irrespective of the base platform being .net or Java. Migration to architectures like Microservices which help in hastening the development processes.
- UI using responsive design to make the applications enabled on majority of the devices.
- Native mobile development using frameworks like Swift, Cardova, etc.
- Cloud enablement of all the services.
- The choice of technology must always be driven by the quantum of the data and the expected goal, for example Big Data/HADOOP must not be treated as a silver bullet and the teams must look for options like Python. Focus must be on visualization tools like Qlikview, Xcelsius.
- The automation complemented by cognitive options is the secret recipe for digital transformation success. Some of the technologies aiding automation include the following:
- Robotic Process Automation through UIPAth, Blue Prism, Automation Anywhere.
- Quality Engineer: Testing is not limited to Quality Assurance whereas testing has taken a renewed perspective of Quality Engineering where testing is done throughout the SDLC. The quality engineering must be complimented with testing automation using RPA, Selenium, Appium. Automation strategies like Behavior Driven development.
- DevOps: Automation of the entire DevOps process starting from integration to final deployment using technologies like Jenkins, Octopus, Capistrano, etc.
- Chatbots: Using API.ai or Wit.ai
Artificial intelligence through Machine Learning using technologies like Tensor flow, Azure ML, etc.
Who moved my Cheese: Few sample aspects that all enterprises must be watchful of –
- In a zeal to automate, inefficient and ineffective processes must not be automated.
- To ensure availability, it is not necessary to develop native mobile apps always. Applications could be made mobile enabled through usage of responsive design.
- There is a difference between IT enablement and digital transformation.
- Success or failure of any initiative must always be backed with evidence-based decisions.
- Any transformation that takes a long gestation period cannot be qualified as digital.
Finally, digital transformation just like any other transformation is aimed at conserving and optimizing one entity on which nobody has any control. The entity is that a day can never have more than 24 hours. Cognizance to this limitation must be the critical element of any digital transformation endeavors.