For traditional brick and mortar businesses steeped in legacy, it can be a huge challenge to evolve rapidly to stay relevant in the ever changing and unrelenting 24x7 (virtual) marketplace. While organisations may have the budgets to run long-term phased Digital transformation programs, this alone is not enough to ensure success.
Digital transformation is as much about delivering the goods to improve customer-experience as it is about a shift in organisational culture. To respond sustainably to the digital challenge, a core digital delivery engine needs to be created; which has senior stakeholder buy in and the agility to make small changes fast.
To achieve this, companies have started setting up Digital Hubs or Test Labs run by cross-functional teams comprising of specialists from marketing, technology, operations, and other business areas. Superdrug’s eLab is a good example of a specialist team set-up by a traditional retailer to accelerate its move to digital.
Such a dedicated digital hub provides an opportunity to cut loose from the organisation’s constraints and competing objectives. And the hub team can champion the program in their respective business areas (through “show & tells”) and sow the seeds for an organisation-wide cultural change.
In such a hub, teams start small, break down the objective into chunks and look to deliver early successes. Small customer experience improvements add up very soon to delight the end customers whilst winning trust of executive leadership and provide impetus for more ambitious initiatives.
It is vital to assimilate learnings and refine processes / ways of working on an ongoing basis. And to also celebrate team successes and boost morale critical for sustained performance in a high stakes Digital change programme.
At the outset, there may be an interim call for help from specialists outside the business, but for a true transformation the target operating model is based on employees driving the digital function. Moreover, management should be sensitive to employees concerns and provide training support to enable its workforce. Where necessary, new frameworks / values should be developed to embed digital in the DNA of the organisation. This is what really sets an inspired program apart from the rest.
For example, Renault Digital is a separate entity created to develop applications and software for all of Renault group businesses. With a new building dedicated to digital and innovation, Renault has made its vision tangible and obvious. It has redefined its core values to align with digital culture of open collaboration and customer-centricity. For a heavy manufacturing company this is a smart and significant step change and demonstrates its commitment to digital transformation.