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Making real sense of digital transformation

Many business leaders are concerned that digital transformation will involve massive disruption and root and branch change. But, as EASY SOFTWARE CEO Dieter Weisshaar points out, this needn’t be the case

Digital transformation, which essentially means integrating technology into a business to improve efficiency and deliver value to users, stakeholders and customers, is an ongoing journey that can have a huge impact on productivity and the bottom line.

Digital technologies and platforms provide the foundations on which enterprises can change, adapt and develop. Optimising business technology and digital processes can reduce costs, increase agility and innovation, provide insight through data analysis and streamline workflows. It has the potential to deliver end-to-end automation, free from manual intervention.

Cultural change
For digital transformation to be successful, there needs to be a cultural re-think within the organisation concerned. Digital transformation isn’t just about technology; people have to be ready to change, too. It also needs to fit in with the enterprise’s overarching strategy and be grounded in business use cases.

For vendors and their channel partners, this means asking the customer to describe the business issue they are seeking to resolve. Based on the outcome of a transformation workshop, EASY SOFTWARE can create a prototype that can be turned into a proof of concept within days. Transition really can be that fast!

Of course, this is not the right approach for everyone (or every business issue). Enterprises that prefer to stick with the ‘waterfall’ methodology or that are looking to develop heavy duty platforms would be unlikely to benefit from this accelerated approach.

So called rapid prototyping, where all ideas are reviewed and the weaker ones jettisoned, is in most cases the best way forward. Digital transformation, after all, is about speed, agility and a 360 degree view of the IT estate.

Small steps
Digital transformation is very much an evolutionary process; it doesn’t happen overnight. Enterprises shouldn’t be scared off by the notion of massive disruption, because this is not the way change happens.

Digital transformation means being able to connect into your existing IT infrastructure without fundamentally altering it. The idea is to protect your investment, whilst expanding ecosystems. It is about adapting new technologies and utilising them for efficiency gains.

To be successful, a digital transformation strategy should be built around a step-by-step approach. Define each priority use case then deliver a ‘Minimal Viable Product’. This allows you to quickly build user-centric services that can demonstrate real business value. Basically, think big for the long-term and small for the short-term. This will allow you to control budgets better and launch new services.

If your enterprise is finding it difficult to identify the best starting point, choose the process where the use of technology will remove the greatest amount of manual effort. This will ultimately provide the fastest efficiency gain.

Case study
Here’s an example from our own experience at EASY SOFTWARE. The HR department at the Axel Springer media corporation wanted to streamline and standardise one key process, the signing of letters of reference that it tags to 500 plus letters annually. Previously, this was a manual task and extremely timeconsuming.

To meet its transformation goal, the company deployed a process that helps managers and the HR department generate the required correspondence. The system ensures employees receive legally secure and high quality information, whilst the creator of the standard text can edit as necessary and save the new version as a text template. In this way, users can personalise letters while enjoying all the benefits of an automated process. This may sound small scale, but it is the start of a digital future for Axel Springer.

A new way of thinking
Enterprises of all sizes and across all sectors are implementing digital transformation initiatives right now – and most of them will have the same worries i.e. where to start and how big to go. The answer, as we have learnt, is to think small, scale fast and plan big.

Remember, digital transformation is ongoing and not a massive ‘remodel and move on’ process. You need to be prepared for the long haul.

Dieter Weisshaar is Chief Executive Officer of EASY SOFTWARE. Headquartered in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany, EASY SOFTWARE AG has been developing intuitive, easy-to-use, custom software products for digitising business processes since 1990. These can be seamlessly integrated with existing systems and are available in on-premise, cloud and mobile versions. With more than 12,800 cross-industry installations, EASY SOFTWARE AG is one of the market-leading companies for software products and software solutions in Germany. The company has operations in 60 countries and currently employs more than 375 employees.

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