IDC estimates that 40% of all technology spending will be applied to “digital transformation,” with enterprises spending nearly $2 trillion by the year 2022. The trouble is, few businesses understand how to maximize their investment while also keeping the business at peak performance. Additionally, companies don’t always explore all the ways that services, processes and digital partnerships can support their digital strategy.
Quite often, executives spend considerable budget on digital programs, only to find they haven’t achieved the desired results. What’s more, digital investments have led to confusion among employees and partners alike, whereby teams are pulled in two very different directions: On the one side are technical and operational requirements, legacy technologies, tight timeframes and cost pressure; on the other are creativity, modernization, innovation and groundbreaking products or services.
Nowhere is the postmortem of troubled digital partnerships more evident than in Agile software development projects. Applied correctly, Agile can be an effective and game-changing collaborative tool to build applications quickly and deliver real business value. However, it’s not uncommon for partners to quickly assemble software that doesn’t fully align with business goals or fails to achieve a desired impact.
This is one of the reasons I wrote Transforming While Performing: to address how companies and executives can better understand the full implications of digital pursuits and devise a digital strategy to get the most out of these endeavors.
Before embarking on a digital initiative, it’s important to develop specific and mutually agreed-upon business metrics and goals. Doing so helps align companies and their respective partners. Additionally, I’ve identified three strategies to ensure companies maximize their digital efforts, investments and experience:
- Develop the business skills of your digital team. Digital talent should support more than just doing “digital stuff;” they should also ensure their efforts support company performance. Too often, teams don’t have the insight or training to align technology with business issues and concerns. Spend time with the digital team to ensure they understand how the company works, identify the success metrics that are most meaningful to the health of the company, and choose the technology approaches to meet those goals.
- Forge meaningful partnerships. Companies typically approach their digital challenges in one of three ways: build their own technology, buy technology and talent by acquiring a strong digital player, or find a partner that can synergistically help them grow and benefit from the combined strengths of both companies. Enlisting the help of a strategic partner is essential for companies that lack core digital skills to build modern, high-impact products and experiences.
Smart enterprises share risks and rewards with their partners while staying focused on a common vision. While selecting the right partner is often about operational and financial efficiencies, businesses today also expect partners to have “skin in the game” and be willing to share risks as well as reap rewards.
- Build a culture of collaboration. Encouraging a culture of collaboration introduces new thinking and skill sets that enable both the company and its digital partner to work together to increase quality without compromising delivery. Internal and external teams are held to the same KPIs, measuring velocity, quality, product impact and autonomy, which allows for a seamless transition upon rollout.
One of the tangible outcomes of building a collaborative culture is the ability to put in place better processes and workflows, especially when it comes to testing automation. With our model, new product engineer sprints are implemented with a primary focus on building out an MVP (minimally viable product). In turn, this allows for the rapid build and evolution of upcoming platform features, and the potential to reduce testing time from months to a handful of weeks – saving millions of dollars.
Innovating While Running the Business
In today’s fast-moving digital marketplace, companies don’t have the luxury of time. Businesses must incorporate new products and technologies swiftly and in parallel with ongoing commercial activities. No company wants to hit the pause button on revenue-generating services or products.
This represents the real opportunity with digital: transform your business for tomorrow without stopping your business from performing today. I’m willing to bet $2 trillion that you like the sound of that.
Part 2 of the series looks at the need to connect the design and engineering teams to achieve business outcomes. Part 3 discusses the importance of “learning to fail” as an essential ingredient of innovation. To learn more about engineering your digital strategy for business success, read our latest whitepaper on Outcome Engineering 101.
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