10 commandments for the journey to digital


Digital is a prominent theme being discussed and implemented across the corporate world.

Across industries, organizations are evaluating their product offerings, methods of client/employee/partner engagement and internal operations, assessing how they can be enabled for an environment where products (e.g. entertainment products), services (catalogs, ordering of goods/services, B2E services) are increasingly being viewed and consumed digitally and on portable handheld devices.

This theme is also driving many technology initiatives across corporations and derivatively with their business and technology partners

While many of the themes and technologies are new, a way to look at them is also as extensions of the multi-decade (century… think wheel and steam engine) theme of automation and digitization of business operations and products.

A perspective on digital

Since the adoption of electronic information processing in the 1960’s, there have been waves of digitization of business operations and products.

  1. Of ledgers and manual accounting into large central computers – the EDP era

  2. Distributing information availability and updation – client server and green terminals

  3. Making distributed information user friendly – thick clients, the rise of Windows and user friendly package software

  4. Consumer self-service and information access – Internet & E-commerce

  5. Connectivity and access/dissemination of information on smaller devices, personalization, & digital products - Now

Each wave led to changes in the ways businesses were run, how they engaged with their constituents, and the technologies which were adopted and assimilated, in many ways what we are experiencing in the current wave of “digital’

That being the case, there are experiences and learnings from the past which might help us navigate this one well. Let’s explore some of those in this note.

10 commandments

1.Small is beautiful

Most initiatives will start small to test the concept before larger rollouts.

This will allow best use of finite resources, get early results of success and failure, and keep the risk and costs contained.

Those who can lead and deliver short cycle and rapid iteration projects will be in demand

Team sizes and deal sizes will be smaller than the large AMS/ITO deals. Service providers which can align to win and engage in these smaller initiatives will build beach-heads for the future.

2.Teams will be co-located

Most of the new initiatives will incubate, pilot and be tested in close proximity with the business, and hence “onsite”.

This will drive demand for onsite resources. Organizations which have the supply chain to fill this onsite demand will get the early advantage.

3.Learners will be winners.

The technologies and many of the processes/ways of working will be new.

This will level the field and create opportunities for those who can and are willing to learn them and lead or play a role in implementing them.

It will also create significant opportunity for younger professionals with skills in these new technologies as well as the experienced ones who can make the transition.

Also true for organizations. Those which have inculcated a culture on continuous learning and change will emerge winners.

4.Change management will be critical.

Systems, processes, and ways of working will change.

This will require focused change management to lead the new initiatives while constructively managing the disruption & sometimes demise of the old ways.

It will be an opportunity for trusted incumbents – employees and partners who understand the existing ways and systems and demonstrate the intent & ability to lead the change

Professionals with strong business domain knowledge will thrive. Their business or process knowledge will be critical when deciding how to effect change and the future state of business or process.

5.The supply side will win

Since the technologies are new, talent is in short supply.

With lesser opportunity to acquire ready talent, skills will need to be built. Organizations with the strongest technology training and deployment engines will be leaders.

Since many of the digital initiatives are technology led, locations with top technology talent will boom.

6.People practices & perception will be critical

In addition to strong training engines, companies will need to attract resources as well as retain them after they are conversant with the high demand digital skills.

Companies with a reputation of being employee friendly will have a distinct edge in attracting and retaining those in high demand.

Those which have less than stellar reputations on people practices will be challenged to attract new talent and bleed their best talent to competition. In both cases, they will struggle to fulfil and be part of the emerging wave.

7.Existing processes and systems will be the focus of optimization

A large chunk of these new initiatives will be funded from existing budgets. This will put cost pressure on all existing operations.

Driving cost takeout’s through global sourcing, vendor consolidation and automation.

This drive for optimization will impact both in-house as well as IT partner employees who are engaged in sustenance activities for existing systems/infrastructure. Those who can repurpose and re-skill themselves into the newer technologies will be part of the new wave, and some will not.

8.Improve or perish

The pressure on optimization will pass through to IT service providers, hurting revenue as existing engagements get renewed at lower cost.

The lower renewal values will also hurt margins in the short term and propel initiatives for defect reduction, tool usage and automation.

Service providers who are highly focused on winning and delivering large AMS/ITO deals will see shrinkage in deal pipelines.

They will need to revector themselves to pursuing, winning, and successfully delivering the new age of apps and infrastructure and build scale as they become larger initiatives.

9.The field will open up for new partners

Since the skills are new and the initiatives small, companies will be receptive to experimenting with new partners.

It’s a good time to hunt for clients who you want to grow with in the future.

10.New companies and industries will emerge

Amazon, LinkedIn, Facebook are the products of the e-commerce and internet era

The digital wave will create a new set too.

Keep swinging!

This note is also posted on the LinkedIn site - 10 commandments


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