Ask the Expert: Digital Transformation

Ask the Expert: Digital Transformation

Loomery is a strategy and technology consultancy that supports clients to build digital products and strategies. The business works with clients to grow their capabilities through digital transformation, and their ethos is centred around making it easier and faster to build great digital products.

We sat down with Loomery co-founder, Brett Thornton, to discuss digital transformation – the challenges facing businesses and the potential gains to be made.

How can digital transformation projects help to deliver value creation?

Every case for transformation is different and actually asking how you link a digital transformation project to value creation is a really critical question before starting to plan out what you do.

It could be that you want to transform an area of your business to create more meaningful relationships with customers by making the customer journey more personal. Or, it could be about building a digital portal for everyone in your supply chain, helping to manage partners across different locations at a lower cost. But digital transformation needs to have a clear purpose, without that it is very common for projects to become complex and unfocused very quickly.

However, once a key objective has been defined there are a number of ways digital transformation can lead to significant improvements in value – either by building new revenue streams, reducing costs or making it easier to predict and adapt to changing market conditions.

What are some of the common pitfalls when it comes to digital transformation and how do businesses ensure that they get returns on their investment?

As I mentioned above the biggest pitfall is kicking off a ‘digital transformation’ programme without a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve. It’s important to understand where digital can play a greater role or deliver value and think through all the implications of the changes you’re making.

It shouldn’t really ever be a question of ‘how do we transform digitally?’. Instead, management teams should aim to understand what change they want to deliver to the customer experience, or how their teams work and then work to find digital tools that can help make that happen.

Without this, businesses can waste a lot of investment. In fact, many large enterprises have thrown millions of pounds away investing in things that are designed to be “digital transformation” but fall far short of actually changing anything.

This happens because there’s a common view of transformation as an objective with a completion date, rather than a tool to achieve something that should be a pursuit of continuous improvement. When businesses view transformation incorrectly like this, they often tie themselves in knots and they measure progress against the programme goals rather than the customer or business outcome.  There are countless examples of businesses that have undertaken transformation projects and by the time they’ve completed the project the technology they’ve invested in has already become out of date.

Change management is also a significant challenge and bringing people along with you on your digital transformation journey is key to its success, for them to be bought in they too need to understand the vision and goal.

To ensure that the change management happens effectively, it’s important that the whole team are involved in accurately diagnosing the problems and creating the solutions.

We recommend that management teams should work directly with teams on the ground to understand what the challenges are, how transformation could help, how it could be delivered digitally, and then what risks need to be accounted for and worked around. There might be cultural ‘baggage’ in the business that inhibits how quickly it can change, which is why it’s so important to get buy in from teams by involving them early on in the process – not just announcing the roll out once it’s already been decided on.

As well as starting with your own people, you also need to put the customer at the absolute core of any transformation project. The businesses that are the best at changing, have learned how to do it gradually while the customer has remained at the centre of everything they do. When this happens, it’s much easier to join the dots between transformation and value creation.

Why does technology and transformation go hand in hand?

Technology is often the biggest functional barrier businesses might need to overcome as part of transformation projects. Legacy IT systems can create challenges and investment in a new IT estate or cloud platform might be a key part of the early stages of transformation.

Technology can either act as an enabler or as a barrier, and in any organisation we speak to there are always multiple opportunities to improve the business through technology – from customer experience to finance and HR.

However, it’s important to remember that the technology is just a tool in your pursuit of improvement.

Businesses also often try to tackle everything at once, without the clear sense of purpose I mentioned earlier, and the technology investment becomes too unwieldy.

Instead, it’s better for management teams to understand how the technology could be applied in one area and then scaled up over time. Cloud-based systems are perfect for this since you can invest a small amount at the outset and scale up over time as and when you need.

Being software-enabled is critical to survival and digital transformation is a way of getting you there. To do it well, the critical thing is making it more of a state of mind for businesses rather than a disparate set of projects. Putting the customer first and working back, if done correctly, is a great starting point since it creates a pull effect through a faster and more focussed approach that leads to successful outcomes more often.

How does Loomery work with clients to help them navigate this?

From working with NorthEdge to develop its Nexus platform for the portfolio, to supporting the University of Exeter develop digital resources for new students, we’ve worked with a range of organisations to change their digital landscape.

The way we approach it is to understand what the client is trying to achieve and then build a bespoke team for the project – with experts from research, product strategy and engineers, that have the right skills to deliver the desired outcome. Using our experience alongside low-code development tools we prioritise development of a working prototype for a business. This approach allows us to reduce the time it takes to get a working model up and running, which means that user testing and analysis can happen much quicker and allows the feedback to be factored into the final product. Put simply, we learn by making and have confidence that the end product will be fit for purpose for our clients, helping them to achieve their goals.

Ultimately we view our client relationships as partnerships, this helps us to be bolder in finding what the best solution is.

To find out how Loomery can help your organisation with its digital transformation journey visit: www.loomery.com/

If you would like to know more about how we work with our portfolio businesses on their digital strategies, get in touch.

For more information, please contact our press office at BIG Partnership - chris.olley@bigpartnership.co.uk, 07849 088730