The situation in corporate environments is mostly the same: we are a big company, with lots of experience, great assets, financial power and very well known products/services. Nevertheless we face threats of competition, start ups getting in our way, and we recognize we need to move faster as our profits and share of market are diminishing in the last few years. So:
We invest in cultural programmes to educate our employees on how important is to adapt to change and to have a learning mindset.
We launch communication pieces saying we aim to drastically change and innovate… and we ensure our shareholders that we are doing all right things to move the needle.
We bring big consultancy companies to take us to the Cloud, we send our Heads of department to Innovation and Tech Conferences, we hire CDOs, CTOs, we create the Data Science area.
We start with a specific innovation team to implement agile step by step and bring coaches…
Nevertheless, in the short term there are no clear signs of success as we know them, in fact, no actual hard data that proves that we are growing or doing things differently from what we have been doing before so is hard to justify all the investment made or claim any success.
Does this sound familiar?
In this case companies may decide they need to invest and buy a startup to “accelerate” the process and at the same time make some PR effect that positions the company as an innovative star. That might work for a while… specially in social media.. but this is just a patch or workaround.
Or the company might simply acquire or merge with another company in the sector and grow bigger in specific segments. Nobody can deny that is change!
All in all, how do you know if you are really making progress in your Digital Transformation process?
My advice would be take a look at core team / teams driving change and/or developing new stuff in the digital area of your company:
Do they have a platform for experimentation that allows them to learn fast and communicate failure and learnings openly?
Are they able to describe the Minimum Viable Product they are working at the moment? Do they all know the assumptions on customer behaviour underlying that MVP?
Do they have access to the skills and resources in order to move on? Are they supported by areas like HR, Finance, Infrastructure and Legal? Do these areas even know what the Digital transformation means for them?
Does the core team know what is the vision of the company overall and how they fit in there? Do you all have a clear understanding of who is your customer in that vision and the hypotheses you want to test?
Do they have specific meetings programmed in the calendar to decide if whatever they are working on is to pivot or shall continue?
If you say YES to these 5 most probably you will know sooner rather than later if your Transformation is effective. If one of them is a NO, make sure you fix it. Digital transformation cannot be measured by budget or forecasting against a plan. If you are able to get new insights about your customers, systematically update your assumptions and discard ideas quicker, then you are probably already in the right path.