Three key steps in the process of digital optimization, and the questions to ask to insure that, even in challenging times, you get it right.
Whether your organization is contemplating its initial digital transformation from inception or editing existing plans as part of an audit or growth process, in light of recent challenges in our business environment globally, the most effective digital optimization strategies begin not as plug and play solutions reverse engineered to legacy thought and systems. They begin by creating the right Ideation, Selection and Refinement of potential solutions and optimizations to evolve an enterprise to functional adaptability and tactical strategic success.
Select team(s) from finance, sales, marketing, product development, and engineering to collaborate. Use multiple hypothesis theory and generate several ideas for the potential evolution of the company’s value proposition and customer development strategy. Refine the direction needed to achieve tactical and strategic goals as defined by the company for increased shareholder value, market share, revenue growth and positive customer brand experience.
No idea about how to address gaps in the market place should be considered too complex, crazy or simple for exploration. There should be no intellectual condescension between groups, and everyone should have a voice in driving the ultimate narrative of the company’s direction. The goal of this component of the exercise is to develop as many viable ideas as possible both in product, product software and professional services solutions.
The team should meet again and work through down-selecting the top 5-10 opportunities to go back for development research and market research regarding customer/client receptivity and/or need. Examine budgeting and timeline to execution as well as the effect technology upgrades can have on the process of driving to and executing to the end goal(s).
Focus on down-selecting ideas based on multiple testing analytically and inductively on target market needs through targeted surveys, for example. Core focus should be on effecting customer/client outcomes and business models and not just adding another technical rack into the stack. It is imperative that once the final idea is selected, a strategy in the selling motion to solve a business problem or produce a desired outcome is defined not simply assumed as a “given” behavior just to create another widget, license or product sale. The lack of input from Sales & Marketing in Ideation and product development is what typically leads to launch failure and timeline/execution gaps.
The refinement process entails getting to a core solution that:
- Solves a business model problem and creates a measurable outcome
- Integrates flawlessly with the client’s platforms via SIL (Solution Integration Lab) or defined POC (proof of concept) of 30 days.
- Has a rapid and flawless POC
- Has statistical results that compare positively to a Null group or group of peers not using the solution
- Has a point-to-point selling motion that your sales and sales engineers can learn quickly, and drives expert trusted advisor solution selling modalities.
- Leads to a natural succession of follow on snap-ins that add to the client’s solution set with positive outcomes and enhanced results for their business model
At a time when every organization is pivoting in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, IT leaders can take a step back to assess – or reassess – the business needs and opportunities they might address with digital solutions by posing some reflective insights.
1. Is our company’s digital transformation strategy still relevant?
It is unlikely that a digital transformation strategy will remain relevant beyond one development cycles in any industry.
The rate of innovation in technology and disruption of business models is greater than ever which makes it next to impossible that a digital transformation strategy will remain relevant beyond several quarters, so an organization should not be investing in a strategy that has built-in functional obsolescence by virtue of its own timeline! Simple disruption in technology or business model drivers cause great change alone. Constant assessment and refinements are necessary.
2. Is our company’s current or proposed digital transformation strategy holistic?
As an enterprise, be on the lookout out for “here there be dragons on the optimization map.” It is easy to get caught up in analysis paralysis, searching instead of focusing on defined outcomes.
The best digital transformation strategies are comprehensive and include Finance, Operations, Sales, Marketing, Product Development, and IT.
3. Is the digital transformation strategy aligned with business priorities?
Change for the sake of change is imprudent. As Steven Covey states: “Seek first to understand.” Quantify Ideation of the strategy with defined outcomes.
4. Is there a compelling performance metric, acquisition, merger, greenfield selling event or budget event driving the change?
Don’t let events drive strategy; drive strategy to manage events. Certainly, as with COVID there is a need to tactically respond to real time events. Long term Digital Optimization strategy still needs to still be based on Ideation, Selection and outcome-based results
5. What defines scalability and speed to market and appetite for change?
In Biology we learn that organisms adapt move or perish to the extrinsic pressures of environmental change. Incorporate scalability, speed to market and change appetite in the ideation and transformational process. A company is an organism, and trying to optimize the parts will sub-optimize the other components of the organism resulting in disequilibrium. Companies do not need “digital disequilibrium”!
In the chaos of change we all face in our businesses; traditional ways of execution are changing. We need to execute ideation and ascertain if business processes are valid in the context of optimization and changing environments.
How can an organization evolve, execute its capabilities and design new methods of optimization digital or otherwise to defend current brand position and develop greater brand/product penetration? Ideation, Selection and Refinement are the keys to success. Prepare for Murphy’s law and evolve!
Terry W. Healy
Chief Revenue Officer