Digital Transformation is
a Design Challenge.
The term is so overused and misapplied to so many thinly associated technologies and services it has lost much of its meaning. It has become a working title for any business initiative using technology to improve performance.This has resulted in endless technology company advertisements touting their widget as the right one for digital transformation.
We see it differently.
We don’t see digital transformation as a technical challenge. Instead, it is a design challenge.
Now that I’ve poked the proverbial bear, allow me to explain.
Nearly every company we’ve worked with or studied has begun their journey with the idea they needed to improve a critical KPI. They were on the hunt for a technology implementation to make that happen.
We think this is the wrong approach now and going forward.
Don’t get me wrong. We love all the new technologies. We love how they open new possibilities and streamline tedious processes. But we also know the applications won’t get you the results you want by themselves.
It takes more than tools.
In the past, business processes were limited by the capabilities of available technology, but that is no longer the case. Today, businesses have readily available applications and integrations to achieve nearly any digital business operation – with relative ease of adoption and integration. I’ll argue the problem has reversed itself. Businesses are now burdened by an overabundance of choice, which creates its own challenges, namely, endless product searches and evaluations. This has created the false belief that the answer to so many business problems is finding the next new application!
The proliferation of this perspective has caused us to realize that digital transformation is no longer a technical challenge. Instead, it is a design challenge.
I know the technology mob will surround my house carrying pitchforks for saying this,
but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Let me explain.
We used to be faced with the challenge of finding scarce and costly technologies that would suit the business need. These conditions made the challenges primarily technical and budgetary ones. The questions were about how can we do this thing? How can we make it possible? This is no longer the case. Today, technical solutions abound. There are multiple good options to solve almost any business technical need, and if there isn’t one, it isn’t that difficult to create one.
This switches the challenge from one of
How Can We Do This?
To What Should We Do?
It is this that makes the situation a design challenge.
Digital Transformation from a design perspective isn’t a shopping exercise or even a development one, at least not at the outset. Looking at digital transformation from a design perspective is far more freeing and opens up far greater possibilities to improve and explore.
We suggest starting with a mindset focused on the idea that now you can do anything with technology – how would you redesign your customer experience with your business? This perspective reorients your entire organization around the delivery of human value and wraps your processes around the most critical of KPIs.
We recommend the human – aka customer and employee experience quality as the launch point for your digital transformation design process. You can design all your other processes operating in service of these two attributes. This approach starts with design and allows for critical evaluation of not only how can you do things, but how should you do things.
Everything else is secondary.
It allows you to expand capabilities,
flex your imaginations and reach beyond the horizon. It also eliminates wasted motion and improves customer and employee engagement from the outset.
Once your design is established,
the build vs. buy evaluation and implementation planning can begin. This time you will be building with your ideal design in mind instead of simply finding another application to add to your Active Directory.