Demystifying Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation Initiatives promised millions in corporate benefits but few companies are reporting ROI gains. In an era when businesses should be embracing digital innovation - and at a time when COVID-19 should be accelerating the uptake - why are companies failing to derive the benefits?

According to Dwight Harris, Jr. who advises corporate COOs, the promise of digital transformation has not lived up to the hype because Chief Operating Officers (COOs) don't fully understand the issues.

"What we are seeing is a universal failure of traditional COOs to make the transition from old world technology to new world technology," says Harris. "Digital transformation is a goal, not a tool. The tools would be things like lean change management and design thinking, which are the foundations of digital transformation."

Harris, a renowned high-performance, operations and business turnaround/transformation expert, says that successfully implementing an effective digital transformation strategy requires deeper thinking, proper training and a fulsome understanding of the process.

"A successful digital transformation strategy requires a deep reservoir of operations mastery, which includes coaching, change management and project management skills," he says.

"Traditional COOs who don't have significant training in these areas can quickly become overwhelmed by the task. The trick is knowing what parts of an organization should be digitally transformed and why."

An operations excellence public speaker on digital transformation and innovation to the financial, media, and healthcare community, Harris warns of the folly of employing traditional consultants to advise on a non-traditional project.

"COOs can and often do leverage consultants to meet resource shortfalls," he says. "But traditional (read 'legacy') consultants typically bring limited digital transformation skills to the table, and often lack the knowledge and cohesiveness to deliver benefits effectively and consistently.

"In addition, consultants are rewarded for both deepening and elongating projects, whereas COOs target timely and impactful initiative deliveries. Therefore, the benefits of a digital transformation project aren't fully realized, and when the consultants' fees are subtracted, the ROI is almost always negative."

Persistent Problems Require New Approaches

Traditional solutions simply cannot be applied to digital transformation frameworks. Sergio Romero, Vice President in charge of Client Delivery at, says that digital transformation success stories require frameworks that optimize results and minimize interruptions to corporate operations.

"The model that works most effectively - and the one we employ - is to break the end results into manageable work cycles, balancing existing client capacity with a small but impactful consultant presence," says Romero.

"Our model is designed to deliver multiple results within ten months, and includes the appropriate PROSCI level change management and other stakeholder buy-in strategies."

Romero maintains the key is to keep the digital transformation design simple to have sustainable, resilient operations.

"Accelerating a poorly conceived digitizing operation produces negative results. RPA incorporates process optimization as a precursor to our Digital Transformation projects, as we have found this step makes our involvement faster and more reliable," he says.

For many corporations, COVID-19 has forever changed how they interface with their customers. The pandemic-inspired shake-up of business practices worldwide, along with the related and ongoing worker shortfalls, means it has never been more important to fully embrace the promise and benefits of digital transformation.

Businesses may have to do more with less. They will need to be agile and create optimized client journey models to be competitive going forward, and the way to achieve this is by developing properly integrated digital transformation.

Dwight Harris, Jr.

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