Transitions can be Difficult

Donald Brumfield, Corporate Flex Member

Donald Brumfield,

Corporate Flex Member

Building on the recent newsletters, I thought it would be beneficial to discuss the transition aspects of Digital Transformation.  Transitions can be difficult, as it is the point at which change becomes evident and is often visible to all parties, with uncertainties and discomfort being the norm.  This is when it is crucial to keep the vision and goals front and center, if we are to achieve them!  

Personally, my family and I are beginning just such a transition, and that experience helps inform my views on digital transformation as well!  Our son is graduating high school this Spring and about to begin college in the Fall. 

The joy and excitement of my son's transformation from a child to a young adult is tempered by the anxiety over the immediate transition - from high school senior to college freshman.  The concern of things being different - him not living at home, his mother and I not "being in control" and him having to assume responsibility for decisions large and small - this is truly a paradigm shift for our family!  Many of the same concerns (and quite frankly fears) come into play leading an organization through Digital Transformation. 

In my experience, early transition steps in a Digital Transformation often involve a loosening (not losing) of central control in such areas as information security, system/application updates, user experience, and business process management.  As outlined in Mark Griesbaum's April 28th article, it is EVERYONE's responsibility to understand how IT impacts the rest of organization and end customers.  IT often feels anxiety about the complexities change brings, and how to help all successfully navigate both system and process changes. 

Anxieties can be far ranging with transitions (digital or otherwise): from information security, to user experience and delivery models. And some transitions are made more challenging in highly regulated industries and public service / government environments.   Expertise and industry specific knowledge helps make the journey easier certainly.  

A success strategy I have seen work in such situations: making the change part of everyone's work experience and engaging often.  Having the IT staff networking with their colleagues across the business helps build understanding to make these transitions smoother and successful - the message is simple "get comfortable being uncomfortable!"   

A benefit of SIM Chicago membership also helps in transition journeys: as members of SIM have a unique opportunity by learning from colleagues that have already dealt with - and survived - many of these transition issues.  All it requires is engagement and a willingness to collaborate with fellow SIM members. 

In speaking with many on the topic and through research, two key themes are present with digital transformation- adaptability and speed.  The art of transitioning corporate IT groups from highly process driven methodical organizations, to an IT organization that can rapidly adapt technologies to solve corporate problems and create new opportunities can be daunting.

This concept is critical enough for MIT Sloan School of Business to address in an award-winning report.   Written by George Westerman, Didier Bonnet and Andrew McAfee, the report titled "The Nine Elements of Digital Transformation" observes:

"The best companies - those we call Digirati - combine digital activity with strong leadership to turn technology into transformation. This is what we call Digital Maturity."

With the possibility of achieving a Digirati goal for your company- consider how you can help your business transition and achieve a digital transformation success.  My advice:  leverage experts in our SIM Chicago chapter! Share what you have learned, help those in need, and ensure the transition is a success for everyone!