Building blocks for a successful digital transformation

18 September 2019 4 min. read

Digital transformations are essential for the future success of organisations, but in practice such a transition can take up a lot of time and be highly complex. John Simons, Principal at Anderson MacGyver, is a specialist in the field of digital transformations, and has recently formulated various tools that can help organisations with such a wide-scale change project.

The success of a digital transformation depends on several factors, says John Simons, who has been working for consultancy Anderson MacGyver since 2013. According to Simons, the business strategy and the digital strategy must firstly be aligned; “The willingness to adjust the business strategy to make better use of digital opportunities contributes strongly to the ultimate success of the transformation.”

However, he adds, the motivation and focus needs to remain firmly on value creation. Simons; “Nowadays it sounds very hip to ‘get digital’, because everyone does it. This is of course the wrong reason to go digital. Opting for digital transformation must have a real impact on the business model with a direct impact on revenue, profit, costs and customer engagement.” 

According to Simons, it is also important that the management team or the board of an organisation supports the transformation process and actively demonstrates this to the rest of the company. “The conviction with which the board or management follows the chosen course is also a determining factor for success. Therefore, organisations need to pay sufficient attention to achieving a thorough understanding and a firm commitment to the path of choice and the associated consequences.” 

Building blocks for a successful digital transformation

For a digital transformation, it is also important to think in terms of customer journey. The consultant explains; “Most organisations are organised vertically and functionally, while the customer crosses the organisation horizontally, so to speak. Each function is the ‘owner’ of the customer for a period of time, which is then ‘handed over’ to the next ‘function’. Yet, the new digital world requires a complete organisation around the customer journey, and the digital footprint and data that these customer journeys leave behind should be used to continuously improve that journey. This shift is the reason why digital transformations require a fundamentally different view and radical changes.” 

Simons further states that digital is all about partnerships, which is in contrast to the situation with legacy companies, “where competitors are arch-enemies that must be crushed or eliminated, their market share stolen and their brands withdrawn.” However, Simons says, “In the digital world you work together with your friends and your ‘enemies’. A good example is Microsoft products; these are available in the Google Play and Apple stores and use all available clouds. In the digital world, as an organisation, you therefore use each other’s strengths to increase your own market share.”

Another example of the importance of digital partnerships, from Holland, is that of Silex. “In 2017, all law firms had to be able to litigate digitally,” outlines Simons. “Silex, a partnership of twenty law firms, engaged Anderson MacGyver to steer the realisation of the project in the right direction. Working together not only reduced costs, but the companies could also learn from each other. In addition, joining forces also led to a better partnership with the IT supplier, because they could help twenty parties at once instead of all these parties individually.”

As a final note, Simons emphasises that the success of a digital transformation very much depends on employee engagement. “Intended changes will only land when the organisation’s own employees become the owners of the renewal, as digital transformations undoubtedly also concern people,” concludes Simons. “Free up time and space for dialogue. Guaranteeing the strategic starting points is crucial here because during the change process new issues constantly arise that have not been answered in advance. These principles therefore form a compass that provides support in discussions about the change course.”