The Secrets of Digital Transformation

”Tell me if anything was ever done… Tell me… Tell me. Tell me if ever I did a thing. … Tell me if anything was ever made.” Leonardo Da Vinci

In the recent years, the largest share in the technological infrastructure projects of companies belongs to investments to digitalization. However, the success rate of the projects runs around 20%… All the studies conducted around the world and in different countries affirm this case.

Indeed, if you are doing business in the Information Technology Industry, you know the research results.

Recently, when company representatives, who provide IT services, talk about their digital transformation during their visits to another company, they listen to the failure stories of the company or the inadequacy of budget and other resources. However, the main problem of the companies is that digital projects cannot be accomplished. But this do not certainly result from company process management policies and practices!!!

There is nothing, which ends fully in all our works, designs, product quality, production…  Everything is left half finished. But there would be no improvement if it were not like this. We continually live in a world of BETA. For example, if Da Vinci were born again, he would probably try to improve his works, especially the Mona Lisa… By the time, the great artist died, he had been working on the Mona Lisa for over 20 years.

Digital Transformation activities will continue as long as the economic life of the companies does. The important thing here is to prioritize projects according to the resource structure of the company.

The common point in the studies on Digital Transformation Projects is that the most important reason for the failure is not the pretexts, but that the senior management does not focus on digital transformation projects enough.

Let’s face it, a transformation project which CEO does not personally be involved, does not have a chance of success.

Moreover, it is to state that the CIO together with firstly the CFO and the CIO, and then the CIO, CFO and CEO trio, and finally the Board of Management shoulders great responsibility in the decision for resources to be achieved from the preliminary preparation of the project. In the implementation phase after the project decision, conducting the process under the supervision of a committee under the chairmanship of the CEO, and that the awareness, and the exact information and communication activities delicately are continued by the stakeholders until the end of the process, are essential element for success.

Much as, the great wise Da Vinci wrote the above-mentioned words in his notebook for other matter, today, it also offers some insight into the technological investments of companies.

In the following points, I say ‘tell me’ like Da Vinci, and I would like to kindly put my questions companies that allege a pretext:

  • First of all, do the most competent and authorized managers-ahead of the curve of the technology- of the company (technology intelligence) be clear on the key success goal of the digital transformation project, which they need?
  • After that, did they discuss the project with different experts from outside the company, did they find reliable partner company?
  • Finally, did they divide the project into steps, in order to realize on the micro-targets basis by beginning with both long-term general objectives and short and medium-term ones?
  • During talking with the CEO of the company about budget for the project, -if the project is carried out in phases- was it come to a mutual agreement in detail about the impact of the project on cash flow and its returns?
  • Could the CFO and CIO (call it CIO or CTO or CDO-who is the most competent person in the company) be able to make presentations at the meetings with the CEO by having full knowledge of the project? For example, did they give information about, what does the digital transformation bring to the cash flow beside of the resources to be used in project process, about the contributions to the competitive advantage, the customer relations and supply chain processes, and about how can the quality and project make agile the decision processes of the company?
  • Was the Board of Management informed in the best way by the CEO and their staff about the resource allocation of the Digital Transformation project, and about what it will bring to the company? Even were they in detail cross-examined by a member or consultant, who are responsible for the technology?
  • Did the CEO regularly supervise the digital transformation project after the approval of the Board of Management? Was a competent and technical team as internal and external organized? Was it explained every detail of the project to the leaders at every level in the company, thus was it provided them to adopt it? Also was it provided a systematic awareness activity for employees, who fight with the corporate culture, and think that they will become unemployed after that this project is completed?

We can also reline backward the order of questions according to the decision maker. Because there is a cyclical and consistent-in-itself reality structure, the questions never change. What matters is the internal consistency at all levels.

The answers given to the above-mentioned questions will show whether your company will be among the 80% that failed to realize digital transformation projects or among the 20% that succeeded.

You do not to be worried, demoralized, and afraid of the words and projects beginning ”digital”! As the wise Da Vinci said: ”Tell me if anything was ever done… Tell me… Tell me.”

The way of digital transformation like a water flowing from river to the sea.

Bulent Hasanefendioglu

Head of Consultancy, TDG Global

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