Road map to digital transformation – process & governance

Road map to digital transformation – process & governance

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

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LAST week we made the point that organisations must embrace a new paradigm of continuous change and adopt the latest methods of managing this shift if they are to survive the fierce competition seen in the digital era. As such, every organisation must essentially consider itself a technology business. This week, the final component of the process and governance pillar that we will analyse is digital innovation. It is sometimes used interchangeably with digital transformation but they are two hugely different things.

What is digital innovation?

Digital innovation is the application of new technologies to existing business problems or practices. Over the past two decades the most impactful digital innovations have been the World Wide Web, electronic mail, social media, smart mobile devices, and improved access to high-speed Internet. More recently, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, blockchain, 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning have been the emerging innovations on the technology landscape.

Innovation is a subset of the broader transformative journey because innovation, most times, happens at breakneck speed, while transformation takes time. Digital innovation spawns digital transformation. Innovation is the “crazy idea” and transformation is the implementation process following it. Digital innovation involves and can originate from anyone in an organisation, from ancillary staff to CEO and everyone in-between. Organisations must be ready to embrace this new way of operating. It is why sound governance and change management practices are essential foundations to foster and realise innovation's benefits. Once a new idea is hatched, the necessary processes and guidelines must immediately facilitate the idea and encourage its development.

Fail fast & learn fast

Historically, our society has embedded in many of us a culture that frowns heavily on failure. However, this culture does not lend itself to innovation. Innovation in the digital world is fraught with many shortcomings. In the words of Honda's founder Sochiro Honda, “Success is 99 per cent failure.” But many studies have shown that most organisations are not good at accepting failure because, understandably, they are consumed by results and outcomes. So, “Failure is not an option.”

Digital organisations must adopt a new outlook on innovation. Embrace failure and learn from it, but do so quickly. Entrepreneurs Jim Ludema and Amber Johnson posit three useful practices for organisations when overcoming failures of the innovation challenge:

1. Focus on process and learning rather than outcomes.

2. Lower the cost of failure.

3. Create space for collisions (aka structured chaos).

Next week we will move to the final pillar in the digital transformation journey – technology and capabilities.

Trevor Forrest is the founder and CEO of 876 Technology Solutions. Christopher Reckord is CEO of managed IT services provider tTech Limited. Collectively, they have approximately 80 years of experience helping organisations of varying sizes procure and implement information technology solutions and transform digitally.

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