Digital Transformation in the Midst of Chaos
There have been a number of memes and social media jokes about how the COVID-19 crisis is “accelerating” the digital transformations of many organizations. But that’s a misunderstanding: The pandemic is in fact a major setback to digital transformation, as organizations venture into the uncharted waters of sustained virtual work and remote project management.
What Is Digital Transformation Anyway?
Digital transformation refers to the integration of technology into all areas of business operations, fundamentally changing how the organization operates and delivers value. It also describes the application of digital capabilities to processes, assets and products.
Let’s take the sharing economy, for example. Uber, Airbnb and many other modern services are built on the idea of collaborative consumption. But did you know that bike-sharing was first introduced as a business model in the 1960s? At that time, it didn’t work well because there was no easy way to find the bicycles. Now that we have mobile phones, GPS locators and ubiquitous connectivity, business models that seemed unviable before are now possible.
The pillars of digital transformation include:
- Engage your customers by reaching them where they are with offerings that speak directly to their needs.
- Empower your employees with effective collaboration and productivity tools.
- Transform your service offerings by evolving your products and business models to better serve your customers.
- Optimize your operations, focusing on data-driven management, clear workflows, better resource management and more.
As project teams across the globe settle into the reality that remote work is the new normal, focusing on these pillars becomes even more important.
What Lies Ahead for Project Teams
A few months from now, organizations may face unforeseen cybersecurity issues, sensitive information leaks and the uncontrolled spread of data across digital channels.
In terms of cost, adopting consumer-grade or free preventive tools might seem reasonable now. But that’s because organizations are not taking into account the fact that these tools won’t be effective to take their competitive advantage to the next level.
In fact, a myriad of tools without integration, uncategorized information, old business processes and tech-averse employees pose a huge challenge to collaboration and productivity.
As teams continue to collaborate virtually, people will likely waste even more time trying to reach a solution, and they will plan multiple, unfocused daily meetings, as managers struggle to provide guidance and accurately measure the performance of employees working from home.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
How to Avoid a Dark Project Fate
Now that you know what digital transformation is and the setbacks imposed by the COVID-19 crisis, what can you do?
1. Review your digital transformation strategy and reprioritize all projects and initiatives. If you don’t have an official strategy, start working on it now before it is too late.
2. Your organization likely already put in place business continuity plans, contingency plans and crisis management measures. As a result, you probably launched projects to enable remote work. Considering there was not enough time to conduct proper analysis, now take a step back and reevaluate these choices. Do they still make sense? How can they be improved?
3. Begin by understanding different organizational needs, since digital transformation starts with people and processes. Next, develop a teamwork architecture that encompasses people, processes and tools. Finally, create a roadmap to implement integrated tools that accounts for the total cost of the life cycle, including support, maintenance, training and more.
Digital transformation is platform-dependent, relying on common data and integrated information flows and workflows. On top of that, security, compliance and general data protection must be observed at all times. There are no shortcuts.
Digital transformation is a very serious strategic topic. Wrong assumptions might lead your organization into a dark future of low productivity, ineffective collaboration and potential issues and liabilities.
How is your organization navigating the digital transformation shifts brought about by the COVID-19 crisis?
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