Why going digital means rethinking business operations

Most organisations have embraced digital transformation, either in concept or in practice. However, organisations won’t see clear benefits unless going digital is aligned with business goals, and the business changes its operating model to fully leverage digital initiatives.

Larger organisations are often better-equipped than SMEs because they usually have more resources available. By contrast, mid-sized organisations face key challenges that can make it difficult for them to see strong results from digital projects.

In our experience, many mid-sized businesses lack the knowledge or awareness needed to seize business technology opportunities. This includes measurable ICT and project management skills as well as an understanding of the context and potential benefits surrounding opportunities.

Furthermore, most mid-sized businesses don’t have a well-formed, considered digital business strategy. This is often because they don’t have the time, people, or funds to devote to innovation and new ideas. This is often also reflective of a deficit in having a clear business strategy, rather than just an annual plan, as digital technology and business have now converged so issues in one reflect closely in the other.

Too many organisations spend time and money implementing technology that, in the end, doesn’t provide tangible benefits. According to Australian law firm, Minter Ellison, up to 85 per cent of IT projects fail to meet their objectives, run significantly late, or cost far more than planned. The cost overrun is between 50 and 100 per cent, while the time overrun is up to 70 per cent.*

SMEs simply can’t afford to waste money on IT and digital transformation projects that won’t deliver on objectives. These businesses need to make sure they have a clear plan before they begin, which includes knowing what success looks like.

To be successful, digital transformation projects should include an overhaul of the organisation’s operations. Simply digitising or automating an existing process may speed it up but, if that process isn’t working to begin with, or shouldn’t still be in existence, then adding technology just makes it fail faster. By contrast, significantly altering a business’s processes in line with technology solutions can introduce cost and time savings that impact the bottom line. This is usually the goal of a transformation project, digital or otherwise.

For some businesses, it can be hard to see where changes can be made that will have a positive effect. Working with a business transformation partner can help uncover opportunities for improvement and ensure the business is investing in technology solutions that are focused on achieving tangible objectives.

* http://www.minterellison.com/media/australian-it-project-failures-spark-new-ict-governance-standard/

Grant Barker, Director Advisory & Project Delivery Services, State of Matter

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