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Blog July 30, 2019

From Novice to Expert in One Cast? What’s Really Involved in Digital Transformation

Brian Bischoff

Let's suppose you have never fished before. You go out, spend that gift card that is collecting dust on a new rod and reel, and read up on all the best techniques and local fishing spots. Your goal is to have a picture of your trophy catch posted to social media by lunchtime. While it’s possible to be successful following this technique, it is by far not a guarantee. Will some succeed? A few, maybe. But in reality, the way you become great at fishing is by constantly learning, trying new techniques, and being persistent even in the face of failure. You need to be committed to making small adjustments from the things you have learned over the long haul. You need to follow the fish where they go. When environmental factors change, you must alter your techniques or possibly even change the type of fish you are going after entirely.

Now replace “fishing” in the above metaphor with “digital transformation.” Should you set an end goal to be digitally transformed after one attempt, or does it make more sense to adopt behaviors that will enable ongoing transformation? While these two subjects seem to have little in common, the quest to become an expert angler is much like a digital transformation journey. Neither should ever be perceived as complete, and both involve continuous learning and adaptation.

Before we go any further, we must establish what digital transformation really involves. “Digital transformation” is a multi-faceted phrase and can be interpreted in many ways depending on the audience, but it comes down to the integration of technology in a way that dramatically enhances the possibilities of a business, fundamentally reimagining and altering processes or experiences.

Across all delineations, one thing is clear: the job of transforming an organization to support the evolving needs of your customers never ends. No company is ever fully "digitally transformed." Therefore, the scope of digital transformation should include the practices that allow your organization to constantly adapt to the changing needs of your customers and stakeholders and to allow for the adoption of new technologies and tools that can make their lives easier and better.

Successfully adapting to the digital marketplace means thinking iteratively, designing iteratively and, delivering iteratively.

This means repeating, but also continuously refining your thought, design, and delivery processes so that you can progressively get closer and closer to providing the best digital experience for customers.

We should constantly question how an experience is evolving. Is it bringing us to the right result? Is there anything we could change now or next time to make it more impactful? If we need to pivot on the direction we are headed, then we need to think in new ways, innovate where and when it makes sense to do so, and then review our path again to determine if we’re closer to where we want to be.

It’s important to build flexibility into the organization’s culture and not look at transformation as something finite with a predefined start and finish. An iterative process to digital transformation that supports flexibility and agility based on ever-evolving customer needs will be most effective.

In an upcoming blog series, I’m going to dissect the concepts of thinking, designing, and delivering iteratively. I’ll cover where great ideas can come from and how your organization can help foster them. I’ll also talk about how data and the customer experience is shaping iterative design, and how Agile development and delivery is deftly supporting the concept of iterative digital transformation.

If only I could also help you catch that trophy fish… But I’ll hook you on the next blog instead! I’m excited to take you inside our digital transformation world at CapTech.