“Digital transformation marks a rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people, and processes in pursuit of new business models and new revenue streams, driven by changes in customer expectations around products and services.”
Digital Transformation, The Right Mindset
One challenge in digital transformation (DT) is the tendency to think of technology as a tool to help do what is currently done, but faster or more efficiently. On the surface, this seems reasonable. But, it limits the scope of what’s possible. Early in the technology revolution, this approach was referred to as “paving the cow path.”
One misstep is applying technology to only part of a process. This scenario stems from siloed ownership or a narrow focus with the intent to solve one problem. Once implemented, managers tend to have ownership of and loyalty to these new “solutions,” making it difficult to replace the technology. Rather than building a new, better road, this is the act of “paving” over the rough parts of the old path, or “paving the cow path.”
To truly participate in digital transformation, people need to ask themselves “what is the best way to accomplish our goals?”, starting from scratch and conceptualizing solutions as if there were no limits. Once adopted, this mindset can lead to the consideration of goals that previously seemed unattainable or out of reach.
Role of Leadership in Digital Transformation
The scope of DT requires more than buy-in from company leaders. Leaders must be the champions of Digital Transformation.
Digital Transformation is scary. Breaking outside the status quo, investing time and money, and risking a new way of doing things, is intimidating. Scope, authority, and resources are necessary to pursue changes that can truly transform processes and organizations. These elements converge on leadership. With leaders championing DT, employees will have the confidence to pursue radical change.
As champions of digital transformation, leaders drive their organizations by embracing a culture of change, experimentation, and risk-taking while painting a vision of the future that provides a clear direction for all employees. By creating the story of the customer and employee experiences that come from DT, leaders set the aspirational goals of the organization in a way that is relatable and emotional for the employees. The right story will excite employees and energize entire organizations to pursue digital transformation.
What does Digital Transformation Look Like?
DT takes on different forms, and different degrees of visibility depending on the industry, organization, and company priorities. While digital transformation is an organizational-wide effort, not all parts of the organization will be affected at once. DT will likely emerge in discreet processes or departments. As long as each implementation is undertaken as part of a master plan, the project-level DT is a good process. But, how long, and what that will look like can vary greatly.
When considering the path we take, and how we create the story for our employees (and customers) to get behind, it helps to model that story after real-life examples.
Digital Transformation in Personal Finance
The finance industry is perhaps one of the more notable and visible digital transformations. Particularly visible is the effect on consumer banking. The digital transformation for consumers began in the early 1990s with companies like CheckFree. It was a simple idea by today’s standards.
CheckFree took a bank routing and account number and provided a way for consumers to pay bills without writing or sending a check. At the time, there was very little by way of transfers, CheckFree usually just printed and sent the check on the consumer’s behalf. But, it heralded a new way for consumers to think about paying bills.
Within 10 years, banks implemented their own online bill-paying process, direct transfers were becoming more common than paper checks. But you still needed to go to your local bank to sign all the paperwork, provide your ID and set up your account.
Ten years later, you could open an account online, but there were still “off-line” tasks required to complete the account setup.
Today, CapitalOne is advertising 5-minute account setup for checking, savings, credit cards, and loans. One never has to enter a build.
UPS: Not so visible, but you felt the Digital Transformation
When you consider how many UPS trucks you see each day and packages that are delivered, it’s a wonder that we get the right delivery to our doorsteps; but we do. That is, in no small part, because UPS began its digital transformation in 2012, using a tool called ORION. It used Machine Learning to optimize delivery routes, reducing miles driven by drivers to deliver over 135 packaged/day. This optimization saves the company $100s of millions per year, allowed consumers to receive items at reasonable rates (even “free” shipping”), and reduced the carbon footprint.
ORION was the first of several tools UPS deployed over the next 5 years in its digital transformation. It is a great example of a company applying DT to discreet areas of its business while keeping each implementation aligned with the long-range DT plan.
Digital Transformation in Entertainment
Netflix. Enough said.
Healthcare & Telemedicine
The past two years have accelerated a transformation that was moving forward slowly up to 2019. As the pandemic continued patients became more willing to discuss their situations with their practitioners via video conferences. While initially a bit awkward, both physicians and patients began to see value in the efficiency of telemedicine when in-person visits were strictly necessary. While not fully worked out, we are clearly on the path.
Beyond video consultations, remote monitoring and mobile apps help medical professionals keep tabs on patients in ways that were not really considered viable just a few years ago.
Finding the Digital Transformation example for your story
There are a host of examples of digital transformation. With a bit of search engine querying, you are likely to find a company that has an experience that you can relate to your organization. The key is to use it as a starting point for a story that you make uniquely yours.
Getting Started With DT
The Boston Consulting Group says to expect DT to take 12-24 months to enable within an organization. The path of DT however doesn’t end, just keeps improving on itself. BCG has great tips and planning information here.
SMARTMD And Digital Transformation
SMARTMD developed a suite of tools to help practices develop more efficient patient referrals and the patient intake process. The tools improve and simplify your process and help manage it more efficiently making the transition from referral to patient run smoothly.
Specific to hospice organizations, SMARTMD enables organizations to further their digital transformation through truly unique technology to improve the experience of the patient, caregivers, family, and the admissions staff. Whether you are just starting out in DT, or you’ve been on the path for while, contact us to see how we can help your team realize your story.SHARE