Hard Won Lessons in Digital Transformation
One of the key actions we do regularly with each of our customers and internally is to conduct Retrospectives – to critically understand the original problem, target solution and the journey so far. These retrospectives help us do course corrections and sometimes, even shelve the original plan!
In this article, we present you with a few key lessons distilled from our Retrospectives and experiences, in the hope that these will help in your Digital Transformation plans.
Although this phrase is overused, but the meaning holds relevance. You revamp technology stack, adopt DevOps tools and technologies, improve your delivery practices, but the needle doesn’t seem to move! That’s because underneath all of the hype, your teams don’t change their fundamental habits and ways of working. You can’t expect to hold a townhall, walk through a presentation and expect the organization to shift.
Changing the culture is hard, but leaders need to show the way every day – by constantly talking to the teams, understand their challenges, provide trainings and investments, changing the performance and incentive structures and most importantly showing why the change is important for the organization and how it benefits them too!
In one case, we helped the client appoint a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) to drive the enterprise-wide Digital Transformations.
In short, Culture emerges as the most important part of Digital Transformation journey, while digital winners approach culture with creating sub-units or identifying change agents to drive culture transformation, laggards leave it with the mails – ‘We are on a Digital Journey’.
I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.
The old generation IT was as a cost-centre, especially in industries where core business is not IT. These opinions were busted when the new generation IT gave rise to business models such as Netflix, Amazon, Uber. Digital native companies are already well-equipped with digital capabilities and technologies. To compete with them, non-digital organizations must integrate new-generation IT and technologies with their legacy systems.
Increasingly, even the non-IT Enterprises have adopted a vision of “IT as the Platform for Delivering our Capabilities”. To achieve this vision, organizations are investing in IT in a big way in the following areas:
- Cloud-Native Applications for rapid Development, release and easy maintenance
- Increasing adoption of DevOps, Automation and Agile
- Modernizing legacy systems
- Piloting use cases of AI, Blockchain, IoT
One of our Star client’s business model is to digitalize orthodontist industry with 3D printing and Digital Manufacturing using cutting edge software impressed us. In their initial conversations with us, they briefed us how their Digital Business Strategy is driving IT investments. Their ground-breaking tele-dentistry platform and vertically integrated, direct-to-consumer business model provides affordable, convenient and premium dentistry experience. Their rapid expansion in terms of geographic presence and revenue growth meant that they had to significantly upscale their IT Application Delivery and Operations process.
We helped in establishing a DevOps based Enterprise Delivery Pipeline that included Product Management, Engineering staff, Infrastructure and Operations teams. The Engineering transformation accelerated the pace at which IT could bring new markets online, resulting in a significant upsurge in Revenue.
An IT Strategy that truly aligns with Business Strategy and Goals can act as a significant force multiplier for the Business!
Measure and Adapt
In a third company, we were pleasantly surprised to see the DevOps tools and advanced CI/CD practices our client, a premier global valuation and corporate finance advisor was using. However, the leadership was not seeing direct benefits of the improvements. A quick Assessment showed that they did not have right metrics and data to demonstrate success and find issues in the pipeline. As a result, they continued with some practices that were not helping them, such as running every build through a Security Analysis product which did not provide the right results and slowed down the entire pipeline.
A comprehensive Measurement Program was designed using Business Metrics as the starting point and deriving Engineering/Operational metrics from it. The metrics were designed to measure system performance and not individual performance. A Lifecycle Intelligence Dashboard was built to get visibility into the metrics captured on an hourly basis. Feedback loops were built into the process through this Dashboard that the team could drill down to find and resolve bottlenecks.
When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure
Automate, Automate, Automate
Another Client of ours was struggling with low morale, lengthy times to get things done, broken manual processes and reliance on a few superheroes. Out of these, the biggest Technical debt was in Automating Testing. Their software had hundreds of combinations for each workflow, so manual testing was getting to the point of being unmanageable and expensive.
We introduced a tried-and-tested QA Automation Framework that quickly helps clients achieve incremental benefits of DevOps with Advanced Automation and improving customer interaction by improving existing digital touch points or creating new ones. We augmented our Automation framework with our AI bot to quickly identify areas of change, tests that were really required and generate necessary test data. Test Environments were containerized with different configurations and tests were run in parallel, sometimes using hundreds of test agents running in parallel.
DevOps requires Continuous testing to augment Continuous Planning, Continuous Development and Continuous Integration.
Transformation is not a destination, it is a journey
An industry player in Loyalty Management Solutions turned to us for help in Digital Transformation of their Loyalty Management Platform to improve the user-experience and simplify development and customization of the platform. The engagement is a good example of how Digital Transformation is an ongoing process.
When we asked one of our clients in Loyalty Management Business “What single word best describes the business landscape in your industry?” We got a single word response: Evolving and Transforming. We drove a matrix ranking their solution to the counterparts and explained as they are evolving and transforming their platform, competitors are doing the same.
We started the discovery phase to outline the solution for the client. We started with business objectives of providing superior User Experience with Self-Service portal and introducing Loyalty-As-A-Service (LaaS) as a key feature. For achieving these business objectives, we recommended embracing CI/CD and API-first approaches to product deployments. But, as we explored more solutions in the industry, we found competitors are offering Advanced Analytics, AI, Gamification and Big Data solutions in the product.
We learned that organizations cannot reach the goal of the Digital Transformation as there are new features/solutions emerging in the market challenging the status quo of the existing ones. Once an organization feel it has completed the first phase of Digital Transformation, it’s the time to look at the internal processes, competitive landscape, customer expectations and refine the processes to make them more efficient.
Organizations must continuously evolve their offerings and services for competing in the digital world. A Customer-Experience focused strategy, right technology partner and exploring continuum of the latest technologies is the way to evolve current digital capabilities. The goal post of Digital Transformation keeps on shifting with the rapidly evolving expectations of digital customers.
Digital Transformation needs a combination of Leadership, Cultural Changes, a motivated workforce and Technology excellence to succeed. In this article, we have tried to tell some of our stories about our experiences.
If you have your stories to share or you want to create new stories with us, we are here to listen. Contact us and we can co-create success for you.