Corporate digital transformation initiatives are paving the way for major operational change within organisations and offers huge opportunities for product companies to inject technology solutions as part of transformational enablement. However, large scale transformation initiatives come with large-scale deployment challenges for technology providers who only focus on the technical aspects of deployment.
Technology is not a transformation core driver
For any company deploying technology into an enterprise digital transformation initiative it is important to appreciate that transformation is not a product of technology alone. Regardless of how innovative and benefit-rich the technology, if it does not contribute to the business and operational objectives of the initiative or is not accepted within the workflow, it will fail to contribute to the transformation. It is therefore essential that any technology supplier invest in understanding the business, operational and adoption aspects driving their client’s transformation initiative, relate these to their technology and position their product in relation to realising the overall transformation goals and adoption rather than an individual product.
The Transformation Framework
Corporate digital transformation (any transformation actually) is a complex set of change activities across multiple organisations driven by a set of executive business goals and objectives. As a technology provider looking into a corporate entity it can be confusing to pick apart what drives what in such an initiative. The Digital Transformation Pyramid framework developed by Patrick Turchi is a useful tool to facilitate the definition of Digital Transformation initiatives and help understand the impact of digital technology within corporate businesses.
The digital transformation pyramid is broken into three corporate layers:
- Business Strategy
- Corporate Execution
- Enabling Technologies
Successful digital transformation program requires a systematic approach by which the business targets and objectives are defined by a business strategy, achieved through corporate execution and enabled through technology solutions. In the Transformation Pyramid the corporate layers are broken down into the following building blocks:
- Business Model/Business Strategy
- Operating Model
- Go-to Market
Each of these building blocks contribute to the overall transformation initiative and the relationship between them needs to be considered as part of the transformation strategy and execution.
For instance, the business strategy remains a concept until execution of coordinated organisational, procedural, tool changes and go-to market approach are implemented realising the business objectives. Transformation is the result of these changes, each with its own set of dependencies upon, and implications to, other parts of the organisation. Technology is used to facilitate these changes and by association inherits the same dependencies. Therefore, understanding the interaction between the transformation building blocks is key for both the corporate transformation leaders and technology product suppliers.
Transformation Goals from the Corporate Execution Perspective
From a technology supplier’s perspective interaction with the transformation initiative will generally be initiated once the business strategy has been defined. There may be some instances where trusted suppliers contribute to the business strategy but usually, they are engaged during corporate execution by technical or product leaders re evaluating technology solutions to support their evolving operating model.
The operation model derived from the business strategy will be the change catalyst across the corporation – organisation, process and tooling will all be impacted by change and technologies utilised to enable change across the corporation’s divisions. It is therefore critical for the technology supplier to fully understand the transformation business objectives, how they manifest within the operational model and how the model is to be applied across operational divisions within the organisation.
A technology provider will usually be initially engaged by a single division within a corporation in a transformation initiative. The transformation leader within that division will hopefully understand the business goals driving the corporate wide transformation, but more importantly, must be committed to a change strategy within their division to meet these goals. The leader will have their own perception of how business goals translate to objectives and outcomes within their division and will have a pre-conceived idea of how a supplier’s technology will fulfil their part of operational model.
A good technology provider will spend time understanding the translation of business goals to operational model within the deployment division, challenging any pre-conceptions and assumptions clearly setting the right expectation of what the technology does and how it benefits the operational objectives. This ‘what is your problem and how do we help resolve it?’ dialogue sets the foundation of trust with the customer, gives them a clear understanding of the technology boundaries and offers to opportunity to influence procedures within the deployment division and those adjoining it in the operating model. However, overselling technology or over-committing product change will have the opposite effect. Corporate transformation is a complex matrix of change deliverables across multiple divisions aligned to meet corporate transformation objectives. In this environment inconsistency of feature or timescale deliverables from any single provider will have a major impact on a transformation program.
Technology Acceptance – Overcoming the People Factor
The transformation journey is all about people – an overused but very true statement. Business goals or technology alone do not transform. It is understanding and acceptance of the need to change, commitment to execute change, adoption and sustained usage of change constructs (operating model, Operational and go-to market approach), all human commitments and activities, that make transformation work.
For a technology provider to be successful in a transformation initiative it is not enough to convince a single transformational lead to utilise a product within their operating model. Users and stakeholders need to see the benefit of the technology to the business goals and operating model it supports. They need to be assured that the technology integrates into their environment without disruption and hardship to themselves. They need training and skills to utilise the technology to meet their objectives. Their fears that the technology may make them less useful(powerful) and redundant need to be addressed, and they need to be assured that the technology remains relevant to their needs as the corporate operating model evolves. Each one of these needs is a very human trait that a technology provider needs to consider and address as part of their deployment.
The corporate workforce will be undergoing a cycle of change emotions – Shock/Denial, Anger/Fear, Acceptance and finally Commitment, not only relating to the new corporate operating model, operations and go-to market approach, but with each new technology introduced along the way.
This compounded resistance to change is one of the technology providers biggest challenges. Being further down in the ‘change-hierarchy’ means that whatever emotional state a group or individual has on the higher order change will manifest itself on how they perceive change associated with technology introduced by a new provider. Some may see a provider’s technology as a great opportunity to achieve the corporate goals they are bought into through the transformation initiative. Others may see the technology as another unnecessary change inflicted upon them. These are just two of many scenarios, some personal, some political and some commercial that a technology provider needs to address with change management during deployment.
Technology Deployment Strategy
Technology product deployment within a corporate transformation incentive is a multi-faceted challenge. The provider needs to meet technical and operational requirements to achieve the business objectives. They need to understand the operating model in which they will be deployed, and they must overcome the fear and resistance to change associated with their technology at a time when the corporation is going through rapid change itself. Utilising a deployment strategy, a technology provider can identify and formulate plans to address these challenges at the beginning of the engagement.
Building a deployment strategy commences with a ‘discovery’ phase, gathering information about the transformation business objectives, how they relate to the operational model and how the technology enables it, and what resistance to technology adoption exists within the organisation.
Based upon the results of the discovery a holistic picture of the corporate objectives, their decomposition into the operating model and its constructs can be made. The provider can map their business and technology features to the business objectives and operating model processes/interfaces and build their value proposition. Identifying individual and group stakeholders, their attitude to the corporate and technology change can be used to build an adoption risk matrix, communication plan and form the basis for educational and relationship building campaigns.
The goal of the deployment strategy is to enable successful deployment of a technology product into an end customer environment. This encompasses the successful insertion of the technology into the operating model and continued usage by the operational organisation. The strategy with each end customer and technology but there are fundamental objectives that should always be within the deployment strategy:
- Understanding of the transformation business need
- Ensuring technology supports the transformation business need
- Understanding the corporate operating model and how the technology interacts and benefits it
- Understanding the key stakeholders and their attitude to corporate and technology change
- Understanding key areas of risk for deployment and adoption of technology
The deployment strategy should spawn a set of initiatives throughout the deployment of the technology product. It should be constantly referred to by the deployment team to ensure that they are aligned to the strategic objectives and not focussed purely on the day to day deployment management.
This is high level discussion on understanding the challenges of product deployment into corporate transformation initiatives. In a further article we will drill deeper into the process of deployment strategy.