As a global technology enabler across industries, I’ve been often asked, “What is the most important factor in the digital transformation of an enterprise? Is it the IT systems, logistics, or processes?”
After years of experience and analysis, I have come to believe that the most critical aspect of a successful digital enterprise is the ability to build and sustain a harmonious balance among the key stakeholders.
This delicate balance is the bedrock upon which applications, processes, and frameworks can be built to create/deliver world-class products and services. Most companies, in their early days, adopt a narrow focus instead of a holistic approach. Key functionality takes precedence over an elaborate framework for multi-party collaboration. However, the dynamics change as the organization scales its operations. Inter-connected workflows and increasing team-size demand the need for a holistic framework to support the next wave of transactional volume and complexity.
The core IT framework of a fast-growing/large digital enterprise must meet the needs and expectations of the various stakeholders.
Stakeholders & Roles
The interactions and delicate balance among the stakeholders play a critical role in generating customer interest, sharing timely/relevant information, soliciting orders, enabling hassle-free payments, fulfilling orders, supporting customers, and executing the day-to-day logistics. To avoid disrupting these key functions and maintain the delicate balance between stakeholders, one must first understand the roles that each of the stakeholders plays in a typical digital enterprise.
Stakeholder Roles and Functional Alignment
Finance & Settlement
Quality & Compliance
The core IT platform has the daunting task of blending several overlapping operations into streamlined work-flows that facilitate coordination, reduce turnaround time, and meet quality/compliance standards. Therefore, the next challenge in architecting your IT framework for collaboration will be to breakdown the requirements into meaningful and manageable IT applications that serve a specific task. This task, when diligently done, will reduce effort-duplications and application complexity, while increasing throughput and optimizing resource consumption (storage and computing power).
Workflow Breakdown into IT-Applications
A successful digital ecosystem must strive to be an expressway for the exchange of information. This expressway is a two-way street. One one side, prospective customers are given easy/intuitive access to information. They are able to browse freely through the options and discover products of interest. While on the other side, the enterprise and its partners are able to simultaneously learn customer preferences, facilitating their purchases, delivery and support in an easy, non-obtrusive manner.
Right Decisions for Robust Foundations
The core IT infrastructure serves as the foundation upon which customer/employee-facing applications are built. Needless to say, any structure is only as good as its foundation. Two key considerations when choosing foundational technologies/tools are scale and interoperability.
In some cases, the new capability/functionality can be introduced to the existing systems. In other cases, the legacy infrastructure may have to be entirely discarded.
However, our experience and global trends indicate that in most scenarios the newer capability-systems will co-exist with the legacy systems and processes.
Building Technical Capabilities:
Digital Commerce & Marketing Platform—Hybris, Magento, Adobe
Content Management—Hybris, Documentum, Alfresco
Search Engine & Optimization—Solr, Endeca, Lucene
Mobility & Responsiveness—iOS, Android, HTML5
Product Information Management (PIM)
Master Data Management (MDM)
Integration—SAP, BPCS, POS, Payment gateway
Analytics—Google, Coremetrics, Bazaarvoice
Project & Performance Management
Determining which course (Replace or Upgrade) to pursue can be assisted by a Fit-GAP analysis. The Fit-GAP assessment helps you compare your new-requirements against the capability of your existing system. The results of the analysis will tell you if the current systems can support the new requirements. Furthermore, it will identify where and how much additional capabilities are needed.
Smart Move—A Trusted Partner
It is not uncommon to employ the services of an external consultant to conduct the Fit-GAP assessment for your requirements. A trusted transformation partner can provide an unbiased opinion, task and price estimate. The consultant can recommend industry best practices, most optimal and stable technology tools, and even steer the project clear of known pitfalls.
Yet, many enterprises share a common concern – “How do we identify the right partner?”
Well, here is a brief checklist of the key characteristics to look for when selecting your digital transformation partner:
- Deep technical competence (demonstrated experience of successful implementations)
- Business knowledge and insights in your specific vertical
- Global presence/implementation expertise
- System integration expertise
- Reference-able clients/customers
In the end, it is also very important to partner with a company that you like and trust.
In the next post, I will elaborate on another interesting topic, “Are your Digital Assets Failing Business Expectations? How to Identify and Bridge the Gap!”