digital transformation journey

Digital Transformation doesn’t have to be a Painful Journey

The journey toward digital transformation and a more data mature company is continuous.

With summer weather on our doorstep, people all over are itching to heed the call of the wild, get outdoors and truly experience nature. Before the next hike, it’s time to take inventory of all the equipment to ensure that everything still fits, nothing missing or broken. When the inventory is complete and the journey is planned, most seasoned campers and hikers also assess whether their equipment is appropriate for the next trip.

By Brian Cluster

Each major journey requires a new calibration of the equipment. The backpack extra connectors, clips, whether optional bags need to be removed on the shorter trips that require less material and clothing. Experienced hikers and outdoors enthusiasts have a saying that is appropriate when you pack the wrong equipment: “Ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain.” Bottom line, not having your gear adjusted and fit for your current purpose creates unnecessary effort, time and even pain as steps add up to miles and minutes to hours on your journey.

Digital transformation spells potential for frustration

In hiking, you have a clearly defined destination. Similarly, digital transformation for businesses is not a precise destination but a set of milestones. Most companies have completed a digital transformation in their business, but that solution worked in that specific time and place. Since that initial transformation, the market is now different, and further work is needed to continue reaping the benefits of digitalization. Across all industries, there was tremendous digital investment and adoption during the pandemic.

Today, most businesses believe they need to adjust their business model and encourage innovation in creating new digital businesses. Nine in 10 business leaders believe their business model will have to change to remain viable by 2023.

The journey toward digital transformation and a more data mature company is continuous. A new fiscal year identifies an operation gap or revenue opportunity, and a new technology is needed. Oftentimes, the technological leaders in the enterprise procure, select, purchase and implement new software that does not move the needle in the performance of the business. A recent Gartner survey on user influence in software decisions determined that “60% of employees have experienced frustration with new software rolled out in the past 24 months.” The IT teams are truly focused on improving the business and keeping up with the competition’s IT stack, but adding the new technology frequently creates further complexity and an expanded toolbox and may not deliver the desired user experience. What appears to be missing in the purchasing equation is time to understand user needs and expectations.

New software can be frustrating, but existing software can also be slowing down your business. Foundational enterprise software such as ERPs, master data management solutions, supply chain management and CRM can have lifetimes of five, 10 or more years.

With long-term, businesses-critical software, there are several key questions to ask:

  • How aware is your organization of the overall employee experience across different types of enterprise software?
  • If there are obstacles in your processes, are they driven by technologies, resources, key individuals or awkward workarounds?
  • How might a feedback loop help your organization assess and prioritize upgrades or improvements?
  • Are there simple ways to change software or processes that will improve productivity and user experience?

How to ensure your data management platform fits your journey

  • Gain perspective for your digital transformation with a trusted business advisor. Companies are running their business at 100 mph and may not have the bandwidth or required expertise to fully understand current and future data management needs. A typical software evaluation is focused on feature and functionality for the defined se case. However, companies that are successful in MDM implementation need a much wider lens and comprehensive view of multiple use case scenarios.
  • Include configuration and flexibility as a critical factor in your initial software decision. Any investment in master data management (MDM) platform is medium to long term, because it can be developed over time into a digital business hub integrating multiple types of data, enriching data and then feeding internal applications and sharing externally to partners and digital commerce. Businesses and business models change over time, so it is important that the MDM platform is flexible enough to evolve with your business. Evolving means having a capability to change processes, user roles, add or remove integration points and scale to increase the volume of data shared.
  • Conduct annual user experience and software assessments. To truly understand current situation, user experience and training needs, there must be at least annually run formal surveys on the performance of your organizations. Frequently, there are analysts or data stewards that go about theirr business without expressing concerns or frustration. By capturing individual and collective voices on their experience, business and IT teams can have a shared understanding of common challenges or even individual training gaps. Process delays or inefficiencies in your MDM software is solved through configuration changes, user right adjustments or workflow changes, which are low effort but high reward. It’s important to adjust the solution to fit the current situation.

With the expanding universe of data and continuous digital disruption, there are a whole host of challenges for businesses to deal with. New software hastily implemented may not deliver expected results, and existing software solutions may not be optimized for your current business needs, creating frustration and pain for your employees and customers. Ensuring that your master data management solution is open and configurable, understanding and addressing user experience concerns and partnering with a trusted MDM advisor will ensure continued success on your digital transformation journey.

Brian Cluster is Stibo Systems’ Industry Strategy Director for the consumer packaged goods and retail industries. He has a 20-year track record of collaborating on strategy, delivering analytics and developing business plans and digital transformation. At Stibo Systems, Brian is putting his varied industry expertise to good use, providing direction and strategy for field teams and helping to drive customer value for master data management solutions.

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