Digitalization are much more than bits and bytes


As management consultant and interim manager through almost 16 years I have worked with countless issues related to digitization and technology utilization.

Has previously also described that Digitalization are much more than bits and bytes ( -at least-of-all-about-technology /)

It constantly communicates about the importance of technology and digitization. It is important to emphasize that technology is first and foremost tools for supporting a work process, like hammer and nail for a craftsman.

Of course, technology is an important part of digitizing an organization, but if you make technology as a goal in such a process, you lose the ability to differentiate yourself from others.

A digitization process is about how you use the technology to differentiate you from your competitors by streamlining your work processes. Where you can get the good qualities that you and your organization have. The quality of the people, the quality of the processes used, the quality of products and services that are sold and the quality and value they create for their customers. Therefore, a digitization process is unique to each organization. You can include experiences from past processes and others, but you must always adapt it to your own organization. For each step, you get, new opportunities and new choices are opened. Options that must be evaluated, rejected, tested, failed and implemented. Digitization is learning.

A digitization process is more about how you think and less about what you think about. One must be willing to adapt your work processes and go new ways. Time and cost are still important parameters to succeed, so the processes that reduce these while at the same time the value of the customers is taken care of are the processes that win over time. If you wait until those who complete the processes are completely satisfied with the result, you often have the wrong focus. The ability to improve and listen to what your customers want and turn around with your customers is most important. Digitization is still learning.


The biggest challenge today is that many allow IT to run the entire digitization process. Then it often ends wrong, not because IT cannot digitize, but because communication between IT and the organization ends up by they talking past each other.

A digitization process must therefore be run by the entire organization. Most organizations do not deliver IT to a customer, they deliver a value to a customer. The value can be very much different, and there is always some degree of trust. The delivery includes someone who solves something for the customer and a confidence that the delivery defends the price. Confidence is built slowly, but decays quickly.

Digitization often enables a process to be fundamentally reconfigured; for example, combining automated decision making with self-service can eliminate manual processes. Successful digitization efforts start by designing the future state for each process without regard for current constraints—say, shortening a process turnaround time from days to minutes. Once a compelling future state has been described, constraints (for instance, legally required checks) can be reintroduced. Companies should not hesitate to challenge each constraint. Many are corporate myths that can be quickly resolved through discussions with customers or regulators.

Digitizing select stages of the customer experience may increase efficiency in specific areas of the process and address some burning customer issues, but it will never deliver a truly seamless experience, and as a result may leave significant potential on the table. To tackle an end-to-end process such as customer onboarding, process-digitization teams need support from every function involved in the customer experience. The end customer should be heavily involved too, not least to challenge conventional wisdom. To do this, some firms are creating start-up-style, cross-functional units that bring together all colleagues—including IT developers—involved in the end-to-end customer experience. The cross-functional unit has the mandate to challenge the status quo. Members are often collocated to improve lines of communication and ensure a true team effort.

Digitization skills are in short supply, so successful programs emphasize building in-house capabilities. The goal is to create a center of excellence with skilled staff that can be called upon to digitize processes quickly. Still, many times companies must search for talent externally to address the need for new skill sets and roles, such as data scientists or user-experience designers. Given its importance, the first managers selected to lead the transformation should be carefully chosen, well trusted in the organization, and ready to commit for a long period of time. It is also important that the team has the skills needed to build the required technology components in a modular way so that they can be reused across processes, maximizing economies of scale.

Traditional IT-intensive programs deliver a return only at the end of the project, sometimes years after the project’s kickoff. Digitizing end-to-end processes one by one, however, can deliver improved performance in just three to five months. Complex IT challenges such as legacy-systems integration can be harder to move along quickly, but there are ways to mitigate the risks of delay. For example, one industrial company pursuing an IT legacy-systems integration used low-cost offshore resources to rekey data among systems, allowing a new digital customer process to be brought online for use with pilot customers while a robust IT interface was built in parallel. This approach reduced the risk involved with the integration effort and accelerated payback.

Moving quickly isn’t always easy. More often than not, it’s business decision making that’s causing the bottleneck rather than IT development. That’s why digitization programs need strong board-level support to align all the stakeholders, while all other decisions should be delegated to the project team.

In traditional deployment, a new solution is rolled out progressively across sites to existing user teams. However, a different approach may be needed when organizations undertake digitization, because of radical changes to processes and the supporting organization. For example, telecommunications salespeople may prefer customers to apply for services through the existing store system instead of self-serve kiosks. Bank-credit underwriters may not trust automated algorithms and may choose to review automatically approved applications. In these cases, it might be easier to roll in a new organizational unit to handle the new digital process, and then bring employees into this unit while increasing the volumes handled by it in parallel. This ensures a much easier transition to the digital process by not expending extensive energy on changing old habits and behaviors. By the time all process volume has migrated to the new digital process, the new organizational unit will have “swallowed” all the required employees from the legacy units.

Companies that digitize processes can improve their bottom lines and delight customers. The value at stake depends on the business model and starting point but can be estimated by allocating costs to end-to-end processes and benchmarking against peers. To kick-start the approach and build capabilities and momentum, organizations can undertake one or two pilots and then scale rapidly.

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