Need for a digital compass for digital transformation

As information and knowledge became ubiquitous in the last decade, the results were evident from the shift in the market-cap of Nasdaq from knowledge companies (GE, Ford) to learning companies(Google, Amazon). A new breed of companies took shape that thrived in the rapid and ever-increasing speed of change in the markets. Innovation and disruptions happened at the border of traditional silos (Uber as a marketplace for taxis), and traditional players were stunned into inaction due to the rapid increase in complexity and uncertainty. The new-age companies got a free run, while the existing players were trying to brace up with the new world (dis)order. In the Knowledge/Assumptions paradigm, the traditional players operated with Knowledge/Assumptions ratio almost always ahead of 0.75 ie, they knew more than the assumptions they were making even in new initiatives, and despite the increasing market volatility. They now faced competitors who were able to react rapidly to the changes in consumer preferences and create new business models, steadily building and testing new hypotheses. These new companies figured that keeping Knowledge/Assumptions ahead of the curve was a function of continually testing assumptions and converting them to knowledge. Data proved to be an invaluable oil in fuelling this new culture of fact-based decision making.

Traditional players have since undergone waves of transformation using digital technologies to digitize processes and, in some cases, also to support decision making. However, in the rapid enthusiasm for change, companies spent liberally in capex and opex to digitize everything as well as set up teams to harness data to identify the trends and recommend changes. 

A few things often got ignored in this race to transform:

a) Linking firm business objectives to transformation projects 

b)Human factors & incentives neglected to adopt new systems 

c) Data adopted as the core of strategy as opposed to supporting strategy.

The result, as the topic suggests, was that a large retailer built a whole strategy around “Chocolate makes clothes shrink” …the results, needless to say, led to a massive disillusionment with data and digital.

Bean to Brew to Business

In WW-II, in the British theatre, a general commissioned the brightest to analyze where the planes were getting shot down frequently and remediate with necessary design changes. The next version of planes, launched with much fanfare, did no better. The General called for a review and soon realized to his dismay, that the bright team he commissioned only analyzed the data they had ie, the bullet marks on planes that returned, and not the ones that fell in enemy territory. A frequent mistake companies make when they let data give them answers without framing the right question!

It was the year 2014, somewhere in the middle of an intense, disruptive start-up storm in California, four senior corporate executives in the business of technology consulting hypothesized that data was going to be central to the success of enterprises. Enquero was built focused on “Connected Digital Enterprise” through connected data, architecture, and experience. A few successful and failed hypotheses later, the leadership realized that framing the right question was even more critical for the success of a data-led transformation and that customers and consultants often overlooked this important aspect. Thus, the Enquero IMPACT framework was born. 

While linking the corporate goals to data and digital transformation, the IMPACT framework ensures that all technology initiatives support specific objectives of the enterprise. IMPACT enables enterprises to keep ahead of Knowledge/Assumptions by designing to quickly create and test new hypotheses through the connected data architecture. The IMPACT framework ensures that enterprise strategy aligns with the architecture- Data Infrastructure, Intelligence & Enterprise Applications.

Three layers in a modern-day Digital Architecture – 

a) Migration of all processes to Digital Systems for automation gains, 

b) Data infrastructure to host rich data (internal data from the Digital systems, external data,

c)Intelligence layer feeding Digital Front-end with insights rather than just raw data for better decision-making. 

The Recipe for a great coffee in making !

Technically, coffee is beans + hot water. Still, you don’t get there just like that; you identify how you would like to consume it (With or without milk), what are the environmental factors (taste preferences, weather), and then you put the beans through a process accordingly for your cuppa. Why would digital transformation be any different?

Typically, Fortune companies work with consulting firms to dream up ambitious goals for the corporation, which then gets translated as objectives for each significant function of the company. However, this is where the confusion starts, and extensive business managers lack frameworks to explain the gaps to a series of concrete steps meaningfully. IMPACT helps align the company strategic goals to all the transformation programs

The Enquero Recipe

Identify– Identify the gaps, your current state and your desired state ,knowing where you want to go defines everything. Thus you convert gaps to revenue, operations, and business model gaps. 

Map– The second step is to Map your assets- your business rules and knowledge, your assumptions, and a map of current competencies (ease of change). 

Prioritize– The next step is to Prioritize – you cannot execute on all the fronts. Hence it’s important to validate if your assets hold the test of data (Key Driver Analysis et al.) so that you have a refined set of knowledgeable actions to take for bridging the gaps identified in step 1.

Architect-Once you have the list of actions, our next step is to Architect a digital future of systems and processes. It will support the enterprise to execute the actions identified in step A. This step involves interviewing the user-group and identifying win-win imperatives for the transformation to get realized.

Construct – The next step is to Construct a new digital system. It involves specific projects across Digital infrastructure, Enterprise applications( Core and Digital front-end), and Intelligence layer (Data Science, ML, AI). The philosophy here should be to execute through a series of tangible projects, each with a realizable incremental end-benefit to the transformation, therefore, becomes more organic and continuous.

Transform-Transformation doesn’t just stop at building the system. The transform stage involves iterating with the users to evolve the system for ease of use and impact, including setting up insights team to provoke users to extract value out of the system. The transform stage can be as long as two-times the duration of the earlier stages as it involves overcoming human barriers to wide-spread adoption of the system.

Transformation is a series of small changes

Transformation isn’t one significant initiative or a massive difference in systems or processes or structure; it’s an attitude and a way of life. It’s about continually making small meaningful changes to achieve great results. Nothing illustrates this better than the journey of Novak from being 100+ ranked player to World No.1 through a focussed set of modifications to increase his points won stat marginally. Here is an important aspect to ponder:

Sumit Dhar

Sumit, SVP at Enquero, consulting clients across all industries in Sales and Product Management capacities. With 22+ years in the IT industry, he has a deep knowledge of business strategy and transformation and has built strategic partnerships globally. He is an avid golfer, occasional surfer and currently trying to decipher Indian and Buddhist philosophies

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