Business transformation is the process of transforming (1) how things are made, (2) how things are bought, (3) how things are sold and/or (4) how services are provided. It has been pursued by organizations ever since the first organization came into being and would continue to be pursued in the foreseeable future. It is the way for organizations to know their current state (i.e., know where they are), their future state (i.e., know where they want to be) and their transition (i.e., what steps to take) by considering the people, business processes, services, products and technologies that can help them achieve their objectives. To be clear, business transformation is not merely a “business” only pursuit but rather it is an organizational pursuit that encompasses Information Technology (IT) and digital transformation journeys as well.
While the promise of business transformation is great, it is still something that organizations consistently struggle with. There are multiple factors that can lead to failed business transformation efforts but the number one reason seems to go back to a typical conversation within organizations. In the 21st century, technology for organizations is not just an enabler but paramount to their success. But how many times have you said or heard someone say, “business” wants this and “business” wants that and that “business” does not understand that systems cannot be developed overnight. Ingrained in this sort of thinking is the idea that somehow IT is different from “business”. Somehow there is this “us” vs. “them” mentality.
It is time to change this “us” vs. “them” culture. It is time to think about IT as not something that is outside of “business” but is part of “business”. To have this conversation there has to be a mutual understanding that neither should downplay the importance of the other. This requires an understanding that all technical and non-technical aspects of the organization are there to support the end objectives of business transformation and that collaboration works much better than just mere animosity.
When organizations’ bread and butter business models are shattered in light of the new digital and sharing economy, “business” and technical folks have no one else to blame but themselves. As such it becomes imperative that organizations don’t get lost in complacency and infighting. These organizations should view business transformation as a holistic endeavor by paying enough attention to people, business processes, products, services and technologies that directly and indirectly affect them otherwise business transformation is just a pipe dream. In order for organizations to figure out their own business transformation journey, they need to ask the following questions from internal and external perspectives:
|1.||Who is helped by business transformation?||Who should be helped with business transformation? (E.g., management, employees, customers, shareholder, etc.)|
|2.||What does business transformation teach us?||What should business transformation teach us? (E.g., better internal communications, governance, standardization, discipline, branding, etc.)|
|3.||Where does the business transformation start?||Where should business transformation start? (E.g., IT, marketing, operations, customers, vendors, partners, etc.)|
|4.||When is business transformation considered?||When should the business transformation be considered? (E.g., customer-employee conversations, competitors’ disruption/re-imagination of business models, new innovations, new methods, etc.)|
|5.||Why is business transformation is being done?||Why should the business transformation be done? (E.g., optimization, cohesiveness, long-term value, positive societal ripples, etc.)|
When you ask the above questions, keep in mind that without effective and unbiased feedback loops most business transformation journeys would be just nearsighted one-time initiatives and not something that would make organizations self-improving entities. Smart organizations have realized this and are taking advantage of not only technological changes but also setting themselves up for the future before they themselves get disrupted.