Preventing silos is key to driving digital transformation. Source: Shutterstock

Preventing silos is key to driving digital transformation. Source: Shutterstock

Transformative Change author advises businesses on going digital

DRIVING digital transformation isn’t easy, but it’s what organizations need to do right now.

Customers and stakeholders all want businesses to adapt to the ways and means of the digital era. For some industries, this means a complete overhaul of operations.

In an exclusive interview with Tech Wire Asia ahead of the ConnecTechAsia2019 Summit in Singapore Transformative Change Author Nimalan Nadesalingam explains why businesses should simply think of digital transformation as a change management project.

“If we consider digitization as any other business transformation, we can use tried and tested Change Management approaches for defining and plotting our stakeholder landscape.

“Afterall, we should not necessarily assume that a digital transformation is so different from other types of transformations that everything needs to be reinvented in terms of frameworks and approaches.”

Nadesalingam, therefore, advises businesses to identify sponsors, authorities, a core project team, necessary experts and those additional participants of the transformation who in some way are impacted or can have an impact on the transformation.

“As with any business transformation project, the engagement and involvement of all these individuals or groups will vary depending on the role they play for in the transformation.

“That said, we should equally recognize that digital transformations may see our application of such frameworks producing different outputs to what we may have experienced previously.”

Evolutionary change v/s revolutionary change

Experts believe there are two kinds of change: Evolutionary change and revolutionary change.

“The evolutionary change is gradual. The approach is built collaboratively. The senior management needs to be engaged, but they are not driving the change.

“The revolutionary change is immediate, dramatic and forced down — a high-pressure mandate coming from “upstairs” where senior leadership says that it must be done,” explained one Subject Matter Expert Eli Stern on LinkedIn.

According to Nadesalingam, digital transformation projects are usually revolutionary projects — and although they’re not a totally different type of change, they are definitely diametrically different from the evolutionary projects that organizations are typically used to.

“Those leading or sponsoring an evolutionary transformation, therefore, may not be the most suited for taking on the same responsibility for a revolutionary transformation.

“A revolutionary change would see massive disruptive changes being made to an organization. I would not be so certain that those who are protective of the current state should be relied upon to welcome the necessary disruption necessary to move onto the desired future state. It may be simply to discomforting for them.”

Nadesalingam, however, advises businesses to avoid being quick to dismiss evolutionary leaders. He sees them as a dependable resource to drive internal changes needed to support evolutionary changes.

So, the framework to plot our stakeholder landscape remains the same as we still need sponsors, leaders, and experts, but who fills the roles may well differ between regular evolutionary transformations and more disruptive revolutionary transformations like digitization.

In such cases, organizations need to consider bringing in external experts, set up internal startup teams, and build a dedicated digital office, among other things.

When plotting the stakeholder landscape, Nadesalingam points out that organizations must not only plot those impacted internally but also external organizations that would be impacted by the plan for digitization.

“The potential massive impact of digitization could have a dramatic impact on business partners, customers, communities and even governments.

“So, organizations should not just worry about creating silos within their own respective organizations but also pay equal attention to making sure they have considered all other entities that should be involved with their digital transformation strategy.

Nadesalingam emphasizes that an organization’s digital transformation may not just see have the company deal with massive disruption; the disruption could very easily overspill to other external stakeholders.

Unless the organization has considered how to engage and possibly collaborate with these other stakeholders, it may well find that its own digitization plans face resistance and roadblocks from unexpected places.

“Ultimately, a successful digital transformation for an organization is like any other transformation – its success will not only be dependent on its technical merits, but also how successfully it is adopted by those who have to accept it,” concluded Nadesalingam.