The transformation journey is not necessarily a smooth one, however. IT decision makers from government and business organisations in Asia Pacific are still facing barriers, both internally and externally, when embarking on change projects. Amongst these challenges that I've heard during conversations with CIOs in the region include:
- Staying relevant in the digital economy era when faced with more disruptive competitors and over the top (OTT) players in the ecosystem
- Aligning strategy and execution, such that ideas from the top translate effectively into positive business outcomes, especially when constant turnover can derail efforts
- Locating talent with the right skillsets to lead and deliver change
- Leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) to capture new sources of big data for business advantage
As I travel around the region, I have met IT leaders whose companies have been particularly successful addressing these challenges, and observed several commonalities in how they manage change. At the foundation are seven imperatives that business leaders should follow to embark on a smoother digital transformation journey.
1. Changing the way technology is perceived within the organisation.
IT doesn't just run businesses; it can transform the organisation for better employee productivity and customer satisfaction. Advanced new technologies are a win-win for everyone, and the change in perspective is most effective when backed by top management.
2. Paving the way for innovative leadership.
Second-guessing or copying other companies that are disrupting the industry may work in the short-term, but creating value for the customer is the only way to guarantee sustained sales. Visionaries in any organisation should rise up to the occasion and step up to the challenge. Be bold and decisive in spearheading innovation, not for the sake of change, but because these are clear benefits for customers down the road.
3. Looking at business models in new ways.
The most disruptive companies shed old ideas and approached all aspects of their business - operations, sales, and points of engagement - completely differently. An online marketplace did not exist until the likes of Amazon and eBay came along. Today, traditional retailers are struggling just to stay in business.
4. Investing in talent.
Few people in the existing workforce may already be equipped for the digital economy, but many are often willing to learn. Spend the time to help team members acquire the skills for the digital age. These skills are valuable for individual careers and ultimately help to create outstanding customer experiences - advantages that reduce resistance to change, enhance motivation and morale, and enable businesses to thrive.
5. Rethinking systems and processes.
The "but we've always done it this way" mentality has no place in today's digital-first world, when the old ways can be dramatically improved through streamlining, automation and technology to increase performance and agility while decreasing costs. Keep digital transformation efforts on track with clearly defined milestones and goals, and make sure that top management keeps a close eye on developments.
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