It never ceases to amaze me how technology is part of virtually every business writes Sudhish Mohan, CIO & COO TransUnion Africa. Today, being digital is an imperative for almost every organisation, across almost any industry – FinTech, HealthTech, InsureTech, PropTech, RegTech, the list goes on.

No matter the industry, there are certain constants: culture, mindset and technology platforms that ultimately add to the bottom line of the organisation either through cost savings, new business models and or new revenue streams.

So why are so many digital transformations stalling, or outright failing? Part of the problem is that while we’ve been talking about digital transformation for a while, many businesses don’t really know what it is all about. Sure, they’ve brought in the “experts” to assist, and invested in new technologies like a Data Lake and new software solutions. A few years later, the systems don’t work or aren’t being used to their full potential, the team who implemented the solution have moved on, and there’s little value to show other than a library of PowerPoint presentations.

In fact, “Despite investing more than $1trn globally in new technology over the last three years, the majority of banks have yet to see any financial boost from their digital transformation programmes” according to a report published by Accenture

If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Here are some quick, practical thoughts on what you should focus on to improve your chances of success in your digital transformation journey.

  1. Think digital before doing digital. Before you invest in anything, think about what you are trying to achieve as an organisation. How does your portfolio of projects deliver value to the organisation by creating amazing customer experiences, improving productivity, lowering costs, creating new revenue streams and improving margin/profitability? Remember, digital strategy is the business strategy.
  2. Think data first. Create a data strategy organisation that governs how data is thought about, acquired and consumed. Critically assess what you have and how new sources will be used in enhancing your current products and/or creating new products. Acquiring new data assets can be expensive, so be rigorous about what you buy.
  3. Theory vs Reality. We live in a time when everyone is a digital expert yet many of the experts have not implemented anything digital. Ensure that you are actually implementing, building and testing the potential solutions to actually understand how it works in your environment.
  4. Proof of Concept Overload: Launching excessive POC’s is a hope and pray approach. You should be very deliberate about the few that you are doing and what their success criteria should be. One of the key success criteria is an ability to scale.
  5. Drive integration, outside and inside. Most organisations don’t have the luxury of being born digital. When you are thinking about solutions, you need to think about enhancing the customer value proposition first and how digital technologies will enhance your legacy solutions that make them even more valuable. Digital Technology now allows your “ordinary” product to become smart, collaborative, adaptive and in some cases autonomous. Think about how you integrate the ecosystem around you to co-create using your services.
  6. Changing mindsets. According to Jeff Bezos, the key to Amazon’s market prowess is having excessive customer obsession. I think this should extend to your employees as well. While customers drive your revenue, employees are the ones that drive your digital experience. Have employees in your business that understand what digital means for your organisation and ensure constant ideation to ensure continuous delivery.

Every article that I read these days presents its five points for a digital transformation. It’s not about the number of points that it takes, it’s about ensuring that you are clear about what you are trying to achieve as an organisation and creating a deliberate path to achieve that.

Often, it can be hard to know where to start, but time spent at the beginning planning and speaking to trusted partners can save time, money and unnecessary heartache in the long run. Yes, get involved but make sure you do it in the right way and focus on the right things rather than everything.

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