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Oct 01, 2019

Making sure you treat innovation as more than just a fling with technology

by Hugues Foltz Executive vice-president

Digital transformation

One of the biggest pitfalls out there is letting yourself be seduced by a new technology and implementing it without having clearly defined the objective you’re pursuing.

Digital transformation is just like any other project with the potential to reshape your company—the key to success is having an approach that is consistent with your organization’s business strategy and a game plan that is realistic and specific. All of the aspects of a digital transformation plan should be aligned with the business strategy and tied to clear and quantifiable benefits. In this post, I put a new spin on the standard steps involved in crafting a strategic plan. I don’t want to say that the approach I’m outlining in this post is the only valid method, but I do think it will help you develop and establish a digital transformation plan that will serve you and your organization well.


Understand your business

When I say understand your business, I mean understanding what keeps it going, what its value proposition is, why customers pay for its products or services, what generates profits, what its major expenses are, etc. It can never be repeated often enough: you have to understand your business!


Create a vision

A digital innovation vision is just like a business vision or corporate vision: you have to develop it and put it into words. It should be more than just an objective or plan of action. A vision should be the overall innovation target that separates your company from its competitors and keeps the organization relevant as its business ecosystem evolves and becomes more reliant on technology.


Analyze your current performance

This involves taking a deeper dive into understanding your company’s key processes so you can get the most accurate picture possible. You should be able to identify potential sources of gains and areas where using new technologies could have the strongest impact in the medium term, but especially in the short term.


Analyze your needs

You should assess how your current situation falls short of your business needs, identify current and future problems, and research opportunities. You should be able to identify and prioritize quick wins for your organization to help you swiftly launch and learn from your first digital transformation project.


Develop a strategy and a digital transformation plan

Your strategy should encompass the short, medium and long term, though as previously mentioned, the short and medium term should be the focus at the start of a project. These early and mid-range projects are certain to influence your long-term priorities, though you may also want to think about the long term in advance and about what changes might influence your business model.


Prepare a communication plan and marketing plan

I can never say it often enough: excessive communication is vastly preferable to failing to properly communicate your project and objectives. Additionally, it’s my belief that a good internal marketing plan for your digital transformation project will increase employee buy-in and participation and simplify change management.


Develop an action plan and bring in key actors

During the action plan stage, it’s important to scrutinize each technology and the steps needed to implement it. Take the time you need, so that when you roll out or implement an innovation, you are aware of its technological requirements and the technology readiness level of key processes. You’ll also need to identify someone to lead each project, a person who is motivated to run the ball down the field and carry it across the finish line.


Develop an implementation strategy

It’s all well and good to develop great projects and solid plans of action and to prepare new technologies to solve the Rubik’s cube of your digital transformation, but you still have to make sure the implementation stage is a resounding success. This requires preparing and developing a strategy to ensure you can change course as needed and quickly but steadily integrate new technologies and innovation. Inches from the finish line is not the right time to improvise!

But there’s more to business than methods! Yes, it’s important to make progress in an organized fashion, but you also need to keep your business alive!

Over-planning, 50-page consultant reports, hundreds of hours spent brainstorming a new initiative and endless prioritization processes should be avoided at all costs. Remember the classic principles of project management: start small; if you want to be successful, look for quick wins; if you want the entire organization to buzz about your first project, make sure your ROI is off the charts!

Sometimes, it’s better to get going and address questions and worries along the way, rather than stay comfortable and static.

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