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4 Steps to Shift a Digital Transformation Strategy by Matthew Sekol

At the beginning of each year, we see influencers and industry leaders write about their ideas for the coming year. I am certainly no different and have composed my own set of annual predictions. With so little consequences for being wrong, predictions are easy to make.

There has been a shift away from predictions and long-term strategies to a reactive focus on everything going on around us. We are living through an unprecedented time that has caused companies to question their strategies because no one knows what will happen next. Reality has indeed become stranger than fiction. As a result, the Wall Street Journal reported that many companies are pulling back on long-term cloud contracts as a result, but more concerning is the slow-down of Digital Transformation projects.

As we progress through the Fourth Industrial Revolution, built on innovations from digital technologies, is now the time to survive or evolve? On the surface, it appears companies are choosing to weather the storm, due to the immense uncertainty.

Looking at the way Microsoft thinks about Digital Transformation, that might not be the case. We have distilled these initiatives down to four basic points that initiatives fall into across a Digital Feedback Loop.

  • engage customers

  • empower employees

  • transform products

  • optimise operations

If you think about the reactive initiatives emerging, Digital Transformation is still well underway, but it looks different than the way it usually gets reported. Digital Transformation is not always about the 'big bets' or industry-making ideas. It is based on a need, impacting employees and customers, and solving for new challenges. If ever there was a time to initiate a project to solve complex problems, now is the time!

There is a lot of fear out there. People’s lives and livelihoods are on the line. And so, the responses range from digital pullbacks to accelerations. The companies that are thoughtful in their Digital Transformation approach during this time are the ones that transition from survival to evolution. Consider what that journey could look like:

  • Enabling and adjusting to remote work. We have passed this stage with many companies moving quickly. This has been a commodity exercise created out of necessity, turning on collaborative systems across M365, buying new Surfaces, and enabling remote access through Windows Virtual Desktop.

  • Transforming productivity beyond something that is a transient solution. This is enacting the cultural change that shifts how the organization works. For example, an employee that collaborates in M365 creates signals about productivity, those signals go into the Microsoft Graph. From there, the organization can review the Graph data, adjust, and build new productivity offerings in a cycle. This is how you empower your employees and help them prepare for new, fluid ways of working on their terms.

  • Addressing technical debt now to ensure rapid deployment in the future. It is no secret that many companies have built up complex, legacy systems that have limitations to integrate and scale. IT could be working with business owners to re-factor application stacks (or even just migrate them to the cloud) to optimize operations and take advantage of what the cloud can offer (AI/ML, etc.). This is very much a foundational step that impacts the next bullet.

  • Re-prioritizing existing strategies and grow to address needs. Your customers are facing new challenges, just as you are. Real change happens when you try and solve these problems. Of course, this is dependent on your unique company's business but directly impacts engaging your customers and transforming your product.

Think of it as a journey, which is what Digital Transformation really is. We read new tales every day about new creative innovations to address the slow turn of recovery. Real estate companies are building solutions to measure social distancing, restaurants are moving to less seating and more curbside pickup, farms are building new supply chains, and executives are communicating with employees in new ways to make sure they safe.

Now is not the time to just survive. It is time to evolve by empowering your customers to face this challenge.

Article reproduced with author's permission. Please read the original on Matthew Sekol's Linkedin profile here.


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