Digital is a word that has been on everybody’s lips for some time now. We have to go digital, digital is the solution… Of course it is undeniable that everything is more connected and as technology evolves we want to access all kind of services at any time in a blink of an eye.
So, if the urge for a digital transformation becomes genuinely tangible within your company and its top management, the chances are high you are facing some tricky questions such as: Where to start ? What to do? What is the purpose of such a transformation? How will we tackle this change to make it successful and useful ? And these questions remain probably unanswered and loom large. Cecil Dijoux’s book #hyperlean is an interesting read on the subject and provides a valuable insight on why digital transformation is complex and why companies have to think differently (English version soon to be published).
To clarify the topic in a few words, going Digital means using all information channels available to address a business purpose simplifying the customer’s experience. On the other hand, Information technology refers to the infrastructure, its maintenance and associated support services allowing to do the business. They are intertwined but the latter should support the first in the realisation of the decided business strategy.
The purpose of digital
On the Internet, the number of articles and posts regarding Digital is growing exponentially. Some say it is about technology, some state it is about deepening interaction with the customers and others see in digital a new way of doing business. None of this is wrong, that’s what makes it a difficult subject to deal with as it is wide, cross business and cross services.
Digital should not be seen as a goal but a mean to add value in the processes in order to deliver a customer experience with irreproachable quality where and when he wants it. By thinking like this, the focus shifts from tools to business matters and attention is put on answering the client’s need in a simple way.
Lean is not conservative it asks the right questions
If digital is based on adding value for the client through built in quality in the processes and by looking at business in a new way, aren’t we stating here the core principles of Lean? Lean which is often seen as an old and conservative approach is only dealing with the same questions Digital tries to address. That is delivering exactly what the customer wants when and where he wants it without wasting his time. The analogy to what digital promises is pretty striking. Paying heed to what the client wants and needs ensures the production of added value. Lean might be 80 years old but the thinking behind that approach has never been more accurate as it tries to reduce the time between a demand and its delivery. Looking at business in this perspective puts processes under pressure and automatically reveals problems. Their solving by the people struggling with these processes is at the heart of the skill development praised by Lean and an incredible drive for quality improvement and customer satisfaction. Besides, solving problems creates a less stressful work environment as pain points are progressively erased.
Of course technology is fun but technology for the only sake of it leads to nowhere. It has to serve a higher purpose and a business ambition. Will the transformation ease the process internally or for the end client and will it be profitable? Lean questions thoroughly any project to make sure it is aligned with the company’s strategy and that all the possible scenarios have been studied to choose the one that will be the most suitable in terms of customer value and cost of production.
Velocity is the key
The other power of Lean is that it tries to solve one problem at a time with the people doing the real job, that are the ones using the business processes. If you transpose that state of mind into a digital transformation programme, it means you will test the transformation of only one service to get quick feedback in order to adjust to the clients need in an agile way. Breaking down a transformation into several added value projects helps to capitalise on each action. The underlying benefit of experimenting small changes lays in the building of a learning organisation supported by a culture of continuous improvement. Scaling down a project allows to deliver faster and meet the customer’s expectations with what he needs. And today, we customers, with the ever growing speed of internet connexion and application respond time, refuse to waste time on poor applications.
Think digital but always think client first.