Digital transformation journeys: unique destinations, similar roadmaps
When I think about what is "driving" digital transformation, what I see are many unique transformation targets or destinations. They range from generating new revenue streams through enhanced digital experiences, to reducing OPEX through simplicity and automation. And they include everything in between. But it does not matter the benefits sought, the journeys to get there are becoming familiar stories.
Take, for example, my experience at the Ericsson OSS/BSS User Group in Paris, where I spoke on this topic, and interfaced with over 250 of our customers from all around world.
Drivers and ambitions
Our customers shared many different drivers and ambitions when it comes to digital transformation:
For some operators, generating new revenue streams is their primary motivator for digital transformation. Their efforts are fully focused on simplification of the way in which they provide services to their enterprise and retail customers, with a clear ambition to interact with them in a compelling and completely different way. They create metrics for providing a simpler, omni-channel user experience, codifying their digital strategy to differentiate in the market and to sell new services through enhanced digital experiences.
Some of our customers are expecting a material reduction in OPEX as the key benefit of their digital transformation. Everyone in our industry seems to agree that OPEX spend is not sustainable, particularly so for the Tier 1 operators. Cost-cutting opportunities are found everywhere now—also incorporating simplicity and automation concepts—be it in Software Delivery Lifecycle Transformation, Open Source architecture, and/or Clean Architecture productivity gains. In fact, a fair amount of these transformations are expressed through the lens of architecture principles, framed with words like simplicity, adherence, and harvesting.
Benefits from every direction
A number of our customers are also looking for a combination of these initiatives and are looking from many angles to identify outcomes that support their business strategy. Important to all of our customers, no matter their journey, are what they take with them to help them along the way. I call these the key takeaways of digital transformation:
- Leadership Transformation
- Operating Model Transformation
- New Customer Experiences
- Workforce Transformation
- Information as a Real Competitive Advantage
Fortunately, we can draw upon other industries, such as air transportation, for inspiration. Few would deny the significant transformation of that industry, in the way that airlines—even with burdens of legacy infrastructure—now connect and interact with their customers, and the way that they maximize revenues and optimize their business through digital channels. Such a benchmarking exercise naturally leads to a discussion of the supply chain.
What are operators looking for regarding technology partnership?
Amongst my many User Group discussions, I had in the back of my mind to try come away from Paris with an understanding of this fundamental question of how digital transformation will impact the technology partnerships in our industry over time. I was pleasantly surprised to see signs that the demands are already beginning to change from a product-centric approach to requiring full transformation journey support. Why? Because the desired outcomes will test and strain an organization's ability to share knowledge, reduce development costs, sweat assets, and improve content creation.
Those needs extend far beyond product or technology. They involve the hands-on, roll-up-your-sleeves, daily calls for help with custom application development, life cycle management decisions, process simplification, product simplification, and well, keeping the momentum going along the many months of a transformation project—trying to realize and appreciate the benefits of transformation along the journey.
Are we there yet?
Perhaps there is no single right or wrong way to achieve these desired outcomes. Our customers have different starting points, and as such, we won't buy into a one-size-fits-all strategy. It was quite interesting to see the responses to a simple question that I like to pose, as a way to spark some deep thinking: Which is the best way to evolve? Greenfield versus Brownfield? Is was quite an interesting response from our users, coming from different geographical regions and different ambitions, was about 50/50, where the starting point seems to be the strongest determinant as to how you create your own digital strategy.
In the end, as more of our customers are realizing, you should start your transformation with the assets that you have. You need to create your own strategy to achieve your goal and it will be unique for you and your situation: leveraging in your technology, re-skilling your value staff, and embracing your digital ambitions.
Take a look at the slides that my colleague Thao Tu and I presented on Mastering Digital Transformation on the link below: