Friday, February 23, 2024

The big transformation project is dead as businesses chase fast time to value

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Freda Valassakis, a partner at Elysium Digital. 

“While implementing the technology correctly is important, users and customers need to be considered from the outset,” she says. “The days of technologists arriving with a solution and technically implementing it are behind us. Successful transformation is a people-centric activity.”

This people-centric approach was key to a successful transformation project with a well-known luxury goods retailer. That company wanted to give its customers an easy way to recycle old, unwanted products. Following extensive market and competitor research, Valassakis and her team built a new digital service that enables customers to easily get a quote for their items.

“The retailer had an objective to move towards net zero in its business,” explains Valassakis. “The platform we built in partnership with the client was deployed in stages that enabled them to see the value through the development. And by using low code/no code tools and an agile methodology the project helped the business move towards its ESG and corporate social responsibility goals.”

Organisations have changed their expectations when it comes to technology projects. The need to start showing project value quickly means there’s a shift towards a “think big, act small” philosophy, according to Valassakis. Large projects with multi-year payback are being usurped by phased implementations, and the use of prototyping to test project assumptions, with value being delivered almost immediately.

Elysium Digital works with clients to help them successfully implement new technology. 

Liberating value from within

Boards are also becoming more engaged in transformation projects. With cybersecurity now a top-level boardroom issue, they are becoming more engaged and influential in strategy. Board members are demanding more information about transformation projects with a focus on ensuring they know what data is being used and how it is being secured.

The pandemic, Valassakis says, has had an ongoing impact. The so-called “Great Resignation” triggered a war for talent that resulted in inflated salaries across the technology industry. And while the market has stabilised, businesses are now looking for increased value from their investment in people.

The quest to liberate latent value inside their processes and systems is one of the key drivers for transformation. For example, organisations now recognise that the data they hold has significant value. Learning how to find that value and finding the best tools to extract that value is a major driver in today’s transformation projects.

“The days of technologists arriving with a solution and technically implementing it are behind us. Successful transformation is a people-centric activity.”

Freda Valassakis, a partner at Elysium Digital

“It used to be said that no-one was ever fired for hiring a large, global partner,” Valassakis says. “But that is changing as businesses are increasingly looking for partners that will take the time to understand their business and work alongside them though their transformation journey.”

Success in transformation projects comes from engagement with a diverse cross-section of stakeholders. Working with marketers, the HR team, finance, customers and other key groups is critical, says Valassakis. This puts the user and customer experience at the front of the project with the technology becoming an enabler rather than an inhibitor.

Transformation at speed

The forced move to remote and hybrid work – which Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella famously noted had prompted “two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months” – has vastly improved digital competency and comfort.

“From remote teamwork and learning to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and learning – we are working alongside customers every day to help them adapt and stay open for business in a world of remote everything,” Nadella said at the height of the pandemic.

Research by McKinsey has found that more than two-thirds of transformation projects fail, leading to lost opportunity, the emergence of new competitors and the empowering of rivals.

As such, people are generally more adept at using technology today than they were just a couple of years ago. According to Elysium’s Valassakis, that adoption can be leveraged providing change managers and transformation project leads continue to listen to stakeholders and design solutions with a people-first approach.

While a long-term strategy is important, outcomes are delivered in stages, she says. This can only work when the entire project team works together and collaborates with all stakeholders to achieve a common goal that unlocks the latent value trapped inside the business.

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