The 4 keys to successful digital transformation

Embarking upon digital transformation is imperative for all companies nowadays, but it’s also a significant challenge. To be successful in this transformation, 4 key principles come into play.

Corporate digital transformations often fail to truly transform companies. Many projects are abandoned because they simply can’t demonstrate value on an industrial scale. This is particularly true for projects that may not produce direct revenue and where the objectives are primarily aimed at improving productivity, responsiveness and/or capacity for innovation in larger, traditional companies. Digital transformation in industry poses significant challenges, not only in terms of the amount of investment required, but also the difficulties in measuring performance, sharing new practices across the organisation and rolling out changes on a large scale.

Unfortunately, all too often, the digital transformation roadmaps used by big companies focus on just one of the three dimensions of the digital revolution – customer relations, leaving aside the reinvention of products and services offered, as well as the digitalisation of their operations. What’s needed is an overall vision to bring about genuine company-wide transformation.

But even with a clear and all-encompassing digital roadmap, many companies still find themselves trapped in the chaos of POC, or proof of concept, which is a necessity nowadays to test the validity of any usage scenario, business model or value proposition.

In many cases, however, POCs proliferate in a disorganised fashion in various parts of the company without really being able to generate any firm project outcomes. And the reason? They’re not able to bring together a company’s global strategy (when it exists) with the real needs and expectations of the various teams and operations actually affected by the transformation. This either occurs because of a top-down approach that fails to appeal to internal customers, or it comes from isolated initiatives that aren’t aligned with the projects and priorities of management.

For any digital transformation to be a success, and to escape the chaos of POCs, Pascal Brier believes we should observe four key rules.

1. Define a goal and establish clear governance

This is the first requirement for successful digital transformation – defining a roadmap that outlines use cases, technologies and work horizons, whilst including a hierarchy that clearly identifies the authorities and decision-makers involved.

Whatever the destination, what counts is the journey, the course and, even more importantly, the driver of transformation Pascal Brier Executive Vice-President for Strategy, Innovation and Solutions

2. Think about adoption from the earliest possible stages of development

Focussing on user experience is key and must take into account the diversity of contexts in which the transformation will be felt.

Technical perfection is of no interest if it doesn’t perfectly fit with the interests of users Pascal Brier Executive Vice-President for Strategy, Innovation and Solutions

It may feel rather unnatural, especially for an engineering company that has been built around its capacity to translate new ideas into solutions on the ground, but digital transformations must function properly, and primarily, in the other direction – from the ground upwards, from the way operations normally work, to understand which new solutions can be introduced.

In the absence of this kind of user-focussed approach, too many concepts, POCs, MVPs and other prototypes end up back in the cupboard with all the other perfectly-designed solutions that are never adopted.

3. Set out the expected commercial value

Digital transformation projects often lead to disappointment because they can’t always measure the economic value created.

The company sees what they’re spending, but rarely what they’re gaining Pascal Brier Executive Vice-President for Strategy, Innovation and Solutions

To anticipate this issue, roadmaps must provide concrete and illustrated descriptions along with each usage scenario, but also precise definitions of the project’s expected benefits, as well as ways to measure success. How much money do you expect to save on maintaining your machines by rolling out this initiative on big data analytics? How many expert visits will you be able to avoid with your augmented reality support solution? How much operator time will you be able to save thanks to this application? How many work stoppages can be avoided using these new safety and work monitoring tools?

Global roadmaps need to go into this level of detail to be able to properly report on progress, success and areas for improvement on a day-to-day basis.

4. Train up new talent ecosystems

The final determinant of any digital transformation lies in an ability to surround yourself with the right talent.

Embarking on a digital transformation project is always complicated. You need to develop applications, master robotics, understand the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, etc. In reality, no company has all of these skills readily available in-house. It’s a mistake to think you can do everything by yourself Pascal Brier Executive Vice-President for Strategy, Innovation and Solutions

Companies must identify the resources they lack and create – both internally and externally – an ecosystem of partners that can help roll out their projects. Achieving digital transformation is certainly complicated, but that’s no reason to shy away from it!

Companies must keep in mind that all economic stakeholders will need to change. It’s an inevitable change, a deep and accelerated upheaval of the company and its practices. To ignore it now would be to jeopardise the sustainability of the business, regardless of the industry or history Pascal Brier Executive Vice-President for Strategy, Innovation and Solutions