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How to Accelerate Your Digital Initiatives

| May 5, 2020 | By

by Gokul Jayabalan –

I would first like to share my deepest and sincere heartfelt gratitude towards healthcare workers, first responders, and all others who are out upfront in trying to manage the COVID crisis. I have been blessed to have a job that I can work remote without major disruption to my life and I cannot say how I am thankful for the folks who are running the economy with huge risk to their life. Thank you, folks!

Prioritizing Digital Transformation

Every organization big and small, irrespective of the business segment or geographical location(s) are affected by COVID-19 pandemic. Each of these organizations are trying to react, predict, and adapt to this new reality. Digital transformation is no longer a top priority but the priority as we work to accelerate our digital transformation initiatives.

CTO’s, CEO’s, Chief Customer Engagement Officers, and other Data Initiative C-suite folks approached their digital modernization or transformation initiatives before 2020 differently than now. The COVID-19 situation has literally changed the landscape for their organizations.

The Four R’s

Before 2020, the traditional approach of every organization would be reviewing their current landscape of IT applications, group applications based on 4R strategy (RETAIN, REPLACE, RE-ENGINEER, and RETIRE). There are timeframe and costs associated with each of the strategies applied to these IT applications and any IT application that fall into the category of RE-ENGINEER and RETAIN will go through standard budget allocations to keep them running with very low manpower/ cost as possible. For the applications or systems that are supposed to be REPLACED, subsequent analysis work would be undertaken and hiring external consulting partners including product vendors would be a milestone activity. Based on the expectations from business and architects (IT & Ops teams), the solution would be chosen and the implementation might span across months or years.

After working on IT industry for more than 2 decades, primarily dealing with digital transformation initiatives, I have learned that the approach of 4R’s does not work! Organizations are now facing an existential threat due to the COVID 19 scenario; your customers  are expected to remain in their homes and, irrespective of business segment, your goal is to reach those customers through your digital channels, serve them effectively using the legacy applications (not built for the current scenario), and grow your business in this economy. The probability of success is low.

A New Approach to Thrive in the Digital Era

To accelerate your digital journey, apply a proven digital business strategy and roadmap approach and quickly adapt to this current market scenario and not only succeed but thrive .

Step 1: Identify your Business priorities based on the current market environment

This is a major step for if you have a pre-established list of priorities that were prepared as of the end of 2019 or during Q1 of 2020; those business priorities have to be reviewed with a different lens.

  1. Identify Key Drivers and Analyze current environmental impact
    Example: In the banking industry if your applications or systems are supporting traditional ways, teller applications may no longer be valid, digital channel such as Call Center and IVR may be overwhelmed with calls; do you have automated chatbots assisting customers?
  2. Categorize Key information requirements from business leaders
    Example: A lot of noise has been introduced to our current environment; business and IT champions need to filter the noise and gather key information requirements from business leaders within the organization. This will serve as an important step in identifying and ranking information to assess the complexity of work involved.
  3. Rank Information needs and Assess the complexity
    Example: Rank the information based on impact to the organization (positive and negative). While it is important to improve the current technology landscape, reducing losses or removing redundant systems may have more positive impact to the organization’s bottom-line with minimal effort.
  4. Define Initiatives and Create Executive Summary
    Example:  The executive summary will provide a clear concise view of business drivers and information technology levers that will help us pull through these initiatives. In the following illustration, examples of business and IT drivers for customer engagement are shown:

There are multiple smaller steps to get to the above picture. A consulting partner like RCG can work with your team of experts to identify these business and IT drivers more efficiently and in a timely manner.

Step 2: Identify Technology and Product Partners

This is a crucial step towards success, many organizations will have vendors and IT consulting partners that help them run the business. For digital acceleration, you need to not only choose the partner who you are comfortable with, but you need them to advise and guide you in this journey. They should have established credentials, networking capabilities across various product vendors, and most importantly, successes (recommendations from their existing customers) in dealing with similar transformation initiatives. This should be demonstrated with substantial material that will align with your business.

A strategic roadmap planning your most immediate needs based on the business priorities will help you allocate your budget, time, and resources towards pressing needs of the business.


Step 3: Execution Plan – Organization Agile Initiatives

Successful digital acceleration requires an agile implementation approach; both IT and Business key decision-makers should be comfortable working with SAFe Agile initiatives.

The execution plan clearly varies with respect to the digital transformation initiatives you will be working at, but most of the organizations do need to invest time in a minimal set of areas and build agile release trains (ART) to churn out deliverables that will meet the current and future needs of the business. Further, your partners will add value to this overall process as you together identify and run multiple streams of these ARTs in an efficient manner.

Your “North Star” for accelerating you digital transformation initiatives should be your business drivers.  The tools you use to achieve them are the information technology drivers that need to align towards organization priorities, especially as we emerge from the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. Organizations need to be nimble, efficient and most importantly, assign their resources (time, budget, and people) efficiently to achieve faster to market products to engage customers.