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Implementing a Digitalization Plan

Implementing a Digitalization Plan

13th July, 2020

Digitalization is intensely affecting every single aspect of business and organizational functions today. The pace of change is impressive and digital platforms accommodating such changes are not an exception.. Digitalization is not simply digital marketing or social media, but rather it is a holistic approach that integrates digital technologies into everyday life; it is a process of moving organizations into digital businesses. Consequently, organizations that do not have a digitalization plan and do not transform rapidly, will soon be overrun by competition and slowly fade away.

From insights presented by Zigurat University research team, this article will provide you with four effective steps to help you understand and successfully implement digital roadmaps. The article will also help you to answer the following three key questions: How to start a digitalization plan? What are the basic elements? And what is the process to do so? If you go through this process of digitalization step by step, your company will certainly perform much better than companies initiating just digital projects without any clear structure.

1. Analysis of the status quo

What companies should first do when setting off to becoming a digital organization is to identify their status quo. This should be done in three dimensions:

1. The first dimension is about evaluating how the company’s environment is changing and developing.. Here, it is important to estimate the speed of technological development realistically. In this digital age, what may only be expected to happen in five years, can turn into reality much faster than it was expected.

2. The second dimension is about critically assessing the corporate strategy, culture, and initiatives. Here, workshop formats that include discussions among several groups represent useful tools for analysis. Do not solely involve change advocates but also opponents, and employees from all age groups and from all hierarchical levels of the organization.

This is crucial since diversity has proven to be an essential factor for critical, goal-oriented diverse discussions resulting in the formulation of feasible solutions.

3. The third dimension is about critically analyzing processes, people and technology . This function can perfectly be addressed by classic gap-analysis. With regard to processes, a gap analysis should, for instance, provide an insight on which processes can be optimized by digitalization. What should always be kept in mind is: Pure digitalization without scrutinizing and optimizing everything does not lead to an ideal result. In the realms of Human Resources Management and Technology Management, analysis is primarily about identifying the required competencies and technologies that must be acquired and respectively established.

2. Definition of strategic initiatives and start of pilot projects

First, let us define digital initiatives. In many cases, contiguous clusters arise from these initiatives, which should then be considered as such (the previous statement in not really clear… maybe it needs to be rewritten?)

Subsequently, you should launch first pilot projects. These projects serve as exercise opportunities for your digital leadership team. During this phase, employees will be introduced to changes through good communication and first successes will certainly motivate the entire organization.

When previous change initiatives within your organization have not been successfully achieved or have been discredited, it is then particularly important that the pilot projects thrive. This must be assured through providing sufficient resources and maximum support from top management.

3. Digital maturity plan

In the strict sense, this step on the digital agenda can start parallel or only slightly delayed to the second phase since you will need several months for the digital maturity plan to be properly implemented. The aim of your digital maturity plan should be to optimize the entire organization so it can keep up with the targeted digitalization. More precisely this means to develop processes, employees and technologies in a goal-oriented way. Gaps between the target and the current state that have been identified in the first phase are ideally closed during the formulation of the digital maturity plan.

Again, this is a concrete project that has to be monitored by the Chief Data Officer (CDO) and his or her team.

However, what may sound to be a simple task, can in reality oftentimes turn out to be a complex undertaking. Most of the times additional actions are identified during the course of digital projects which are required to comply with the maturity plan.

HR departments occasionally realize during their employee development activities that the entire business and management culture must be changed — a mammoth project!

IT departments also often stumble upon outdated or cryptical programs and data that require time-consuming investigation to find out about their function and how to deal with them.

In this way, initially manageable projects oftentimes turn into complex, intertwined challenges. To solve these challenges, all people involved in the project must act in concerted way and communicate systematically. Management should also not hesitate to call-in external experts or additional employees if required to manage theproject more effectively.

4. Integration within the daily business

If everything worked out as planned in the above steps, then first pilot projects should now be completed successfully and consigned to the company. The level of digital maturity of the organization should by now be as high as possible.

Usually, the results of all these initiatives do not reach the workforce all at once. New things are rather coming up from time to time and hence, the digital revolution turns into a digital evolution — a less disruptive (and, therefore, less painful) but never-ending change process.

Supported by the right communication and targeted management decisions, organizations will succeed in establishing a positive change attitude in their employees who will actively participate in the change initiatives. Active participation is an essential integral part of the “digital mindset” and of the “intrapreneurship” spirit required within the organization.

Source: Zigurat University

About the Author
George R. Khayat


Mr. George Khayat is a partner with Meirc Training & Consulting. He holds a Bachelor of Science in management from the Lebanese American University (LAU), a Master in Marketing and Communication from ESCP-EAP University in France, and a Global MBA in Digital Business (University of Barcelona). George is a certified marketing analyst (The Graduate Board of Management, USA), a chartered marketer (Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK), a certified Lego® Serious Play® method facilitator, and a certified sales professional (Sales Training International, USA). He is also certified in Action Selling® (USA) and Guerrilla Marketing (Australia).

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