Digital Transformation is the catchphrase that’s buzzing throughout most managerial discussions at companies about how an organization can improve and outpace its competitors. Even though all companies are becoming digitized, utilities and energy companies have the added challenge of transforming legacy grids and IT infrastructure into modern, streamlined operations while continuing to deliver excellent customer service.
At its core, digital transformation is a radical rethinking of how an organization thrives using technology, people, and processes. And most importantly, how to thrive while maintaining operational excellence and staying ahead of its competitors and the agile disruptors, like startups. Embracing digital transformation can and will introduce discomfort to an organization that has settled into the status quo. Here are my experiences gathered as a sales consultant to companies as they experienced their own unique digital transformation, and advice that might help your company’s growth too:
1. Whenever possible, buy platforms. Not standalone technologies.
The world is too inter-connected to buy some obscure application or service that can’t communicate with the other services that you’ve already invested in and use on a daily basis. Consider a company like Slack. Slack sky-rocketed out of seemingly nowhere and is the fastest company in history to reach a billion dollar valuation. When I look at that company, part of the reason why I think the growth occurred so quickly was that the adoption of the software was easy and an organization could use the technology as a platform to share other applications they use everyday. In other words, Slack brought together various technologies, rather than being a standalone product that couldn’t communicate with other valuable applications. How I like to put it is: create “stacked functionality”.
2. Ease of use reigns supreme.
You can talk to project managers and site supervisors all day long about how an application will boost productivity by 27.3% or about how much HQ loves the product, but if the product is not easy to use, there is simply too much friction to expect employees to embrace the product. If an employee needs to read more than 5 minutes worth of instruction to operate a technology, you’re severely limiting the likelihood of widespread adoption. Focus on technologies that are easy to use and easy to learn.
3. Price cannot be the decisive factor in your digital transformation.
Too often I see people that lead off conversations with technology vendors by asking “how much does the product cost”. In reality, the product cost should be a secondary or even tertiary concern. When evaluating digital transformations and the technologies you want to adopt, ask how much ROI will this product bring you instead of how much it costs. Digital transformation technologies are an investment, not a cost. If you view the technologies as a cost, you’ll always pick the cheapest option and hinder the amount of growth available to you. And if your competitor doesn’t skimp on price, they’ll be able to reap more from the investment than you are. Cheap is expensive in the long run.
4. Retrofit your existing solutions. Don’t rip everything out.
For some clients, they hear digital transformation and think they need to trash all of their existing infrastructures and technologies and build from the ground up. While that “burn the boat” embracement of digital transformation may seem to demonstrate how committed you are to your team, you’ll really be slowing down your own progress. Whenever possible, I advise that CIOs, CTOs, and technical leaders in an organization look at how they can phase in their new technologies. By replacing outdated components of your infrastructure with modern technologies you can ease your team into change instead of reinventing the wheel and expecting them to jump onboard with the changes. Changes in stages!
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