The pace of digital advancement is rapid and it is fundamentally changing the way that businesses operate and how they deliver their services. Most businesses know that if they are to remain relevant and competitive, they need to embrace digital transformation. However, most of them take years to implement digital transformation. According to a Deloitte report entitled ‘The Changing Role of People Management in the digital age,” the most common bottleneck to digital transformation is change management. Adoption of digital technologies should go hand in hand with leadership change. Digital transformation has gone from being of niche interest to the tech department to becoming an important need cutting across all aspects of business.
In order to be responsive to opportunities and effectively embrace digital transformation, businesses need to be agile. An agile business is one that has the ability to sense changes and respond to them without compromising on quality and service delivery. Notice that we purposely use “agile” with a small A. There is no specific methodology known as business agility. Instead, business agility is a growth mindset that should be embodied in the whole organization. For a business to be agile, it needs to be driven by the ability of the organization to rapidly respond to change.
It is impossible to predict digital disruption. Making it impossible to effectively plan for digital transformation over the long term. In order to be agile and successfully achieve digital transformation, change needs to be at the core of the organization’s business strategy.
“If there is no real imperative for change, then the organization’s efforts to be agile will fail. Being agile is a business strategy, not a technology strategy.”
In order to achieve digital transformation, businesses need to implement agile structures and cultivate agility. The organization’s decision-makers need to take accountability and make fewer decisions by committee. In order to become agile and achieve digital transformation, businesses need to reevaluate their value maps, their processes and their functions. They need to become much more customer-centric.
For digital transformation to be successful, the transformation must start from the top. The leaders of the organization need to define what digital means for the organization. They need to decide how the organization’s definition of digital fits into its overall business model. Only by aligning to customer strategy can organizations successfully achieve digital transformation.
To become agile, businesses need to start at the simplest possible level. Business leaders should start with what they “think” they know and then validate assumptions through continuous delivery and change. They need to budget for change. The organization’s leaders should make decisions around what will be prioritized to take to market first, what the trade-offs are and what is “good enough now”. For this to happen, the organization needs to have a mature mindset. Businesses need to get pragmatic and realistic about perfection. In today’s digital world, the market changes so fast that the company’s assumption around perfection can change before a solution has been completed.
For agility to be achieved within an organization, it is important for roles and processes to be properly defined. Without a product owner and product manager, solutions will fail. Agility is not a function of the IT department. Instead, it is a business initiative, controlled and managed by the business leadership team.
The ‘Changing Role of People Management in the digital age,’ Deloitte report states that in order to achieve agility and digital transformation, the business leadership team needs to have a good understanding of the digital market, a visionary mindset, a champion mentality to push and implement digital initiatives, the financial acumen to realize value and quantify ROI, a lean entrepreneurial spirit to innovate and manage products and an agile management capacity to operate a digital team.
True agility involves many business imperatives. It requires an entirely different mindset. Agile is about getting a view of what success looks like for the business and deriving a strategy encompassing business engagement in a way that encourages problem-solving and digital solutions.
Regional Director OutSystems Southern Africa at OutSystems
and Field ecosystem partner