IT or Business-Led Digital Transformation: Bridging the Gap

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At the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, Val Sribar, SVP at Gartner, opened his speech with a fundamental outlook for organizations moving towards digital:

“Two-thirds of all business leaders believe that their companies must pick up the pace of digitalization to remain competitive.

Every year, more and more businesses are looking into how they can most effectively harness technology to drive organizational goals and enhance their capabilities.

The buzzword we’ve been using in the last couple years is Digital Transformation: a “new” way to leverage data to inform how strategy needs to evolve and what is necessary, on the front and back end, to do this. Yet many times, the first step down this path is the hardest: who leads this push?

When it comes to transforming the way an organization engages customers and partners digitally, the hardest divide to overcome is in aligning business user requirements to IT’s decision-making process. Doing so is resource intensive: ideally, you’re looking to create a cross-functional team that drives this change. Many times what ends up happening is one of the two groups begins to spearhead the initiative and their voice becomes prevalent in the final decision. As such, a few scenarios tend to occur:

-Your decision makers choose a user-friendly solution suite that IT struggles to effectively implement, delaying ROI and draining your resources

-Your solution suite is easily implemented but requires heavy front-end retooling and integration work to deliver the results vendors promised, slowing down workflow and process efficiency

-You delay the decision until you can effectively align business and IT, which requires you to take a step back and re-evaluate the necessary requirements for your organization

So how do you avoid this pitfall? Measure twice, cut once.

As Jason Bloomberg, contributor at Forbes and President of Intellex, pinpoints, “digital transformation requires the organization to deal better with change overall, essentially making change a core competency as the enterprise becomes customer-driven end-to-end.

With this in mind, the first imperative step is driving a companywide cultural understanding of why and how this change to digital will ease and enhance the day to day of IT and business professionals.

You are looking to comprehend the needs of your business users in a way that IT can relate to. Key considerations in this process include:

-What are the crucial elements of eBusiness that each group is looking to leverage? Is it customer insight? Do we have the necessary expertise within the organization to identify this from a technology agnostic perspective?

-Does my IT infrastructure allow for this initiative in the short term/midterm? If not, what pieces are missing and where can I enhance my organization’s knowledge base to support these objectives?

-What data am I using to inform my decision process?

-Is there a way to create measurable impact analysis to validate and execute such an initiative?

-What technology solutions (PIM/MDM/CPQ/CMS/eComm) are most valued by IT and the business to drive digital enhancements?

-Where can I create cross-functional groups to help inform how data flow can augment business processes for users?

The requirements and backbone of your strategy should not be siloed to those they impact, but rather allow for all voices within the company to be heard.

In the words of Winston Churchill: “Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.”

The ultimate definer for success in your Digital Transformation strategy is how you attack it and the risks you prepare for.

To leave you with a question: where is it that you feel your biggest pain point is in this journey, and what do you need to make sure you can overcome it and drive long-term success?

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