I loved Alex Gibney’s 2005 documentary “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”.

One of my favourite scenes involved an investment banker recounting a conference call where the company had spoken about their plans to get into trading internet bandwidth. This chap said he had no idea what they were talking about, but didn’t want to ask!

Today, everybody is talking about (or crow-barring in the word) “digitalisation”, but what does it mean?

A bit like its linguistic cousins, Transformation and Innovation, it’s important to be clear what we mean when we use the term.

In the mad dash to digitalize, let’s not forget the old adage, garbage in, garbage out.

While we are huge advocates of the benefits of digitalisation (including operational, team, customer, and financial benefits), we always stress to our clients the importance of putting some initial time and effort into making your existing processes and systems as efficient as possible. That’s step 1.

Step 2 involves identifying how the right digital tools (the ones that are appropriate for your business!) can then be incorporated.

Taking this approach creates a double-whammy in terms of upside for your business.

You get improvements from Step 1 and additional improvements from Step 2.

Failing to do Step 1 means not only missing out on the improvements from Step 1, but the gains to your business from Step 2 will be significantly less (Garbage in/Garbage out).

And this shouldn’t be system-led

  • “We need an ERP”
  • “We should have a CRM”
  • “We need a Project Management tool”

It needs to be based on what business impacts you want to see from this. Think in terms of “what problem are you trying to solve?”.

  • “We need to make better use of the data in our business”
  • “We need to deliver a consistent experience to all our customers”
  • “We need to give all our people the tools they need to do their jobs effectively, irrespective of where they are working from”

In the context of your business and your KPIs, in very practical terms, what do you want to get from a digitalisation journey? What is the purpose?

Where a company doesn’t have the capacity or skills in-house (and where the scale of the project justifies this investment), there are 2 distinct roles to be played by partners.

Partner 1 – to look at existing process and systems and ensure these as are efficient as they need to be. This exercise involves documenting these new, optimized processes as well as identifying areas where the right digital tools can be brought in to deliver additional efficiencies.

Partner 2 – is your Implementation partner who can take what Partner 1 has delivered and use this to deliver a solution for your business, based on your precise processes and requirements.

The worst reason to set off on a digitalisation journey for your business is because it’s topical (“everybody else is doing it!”).

Do it because you are clear on what you want to achieve and you know that, done properly, bringing the right digital tools and techniques into your business will deliver real and lasting benefits. But only if the processes “being digitalized” are as efficient/optimized as possible. Otherwise, garbage in, garbage out.

Published On: February 17th, 2022 / Categories: Insights /
Brian O’Brien

Partner & Head of
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