While most organizations approaches to digital are multi-faced, we have identified three basic approaches to Digital Transformation. The dominant approach in any organization will tie to the organizations culture and current powers in charge in an organization.
I. Wait for Proof of Digital Success:
This approach exercises a skeptical eye towards digital efforts or placates change adverse cultures. This approach will help organizations that are focused on empirical results who are risk adverse in nature. The problem with this approach is that there is a large risk in doing nothing when digital catches fire and digital journey success enables competitors to distance themselves and accelerate fast. This approach is a large bet against digital transformation. Since most organizations will have a hybrid of digital and non-digital solutions eventually, this approach seems to be weak.
II. Develop a Holistic Digital Strategy:
This approach concentrates on getting the strategy right and as complete as possible up front. This requires a bold long term orientation that counteracts short term financial performance. This approach concentrates on changing the culture and implementing change in a rapid and agile fashion. This requires and appetite for risk and great patience. This approach is usually quite expensive and assumes that the target is more stable. There are some key stable activities that make sense to target and communicate, but there are dangers.
III . Exercise Digital Dexterity Utilizing Incremental Delivery:
This approach concentrates on delivering benefits along the way to a potential changing digital destination. While some an initial target is identified and a possible route to the target is selected, lessons-learned and new inputs are considered to alter the target and path to the destination can change. This leverages on-ramps in an exploitative fashion and build / morphs into an overall journey or sets of journeys. Organizations are encouraged to have a solid, but mold able strategy that will not be perfect at the start, but will evolve with industry and organizational lessons-learned. Competencies and skills will evolve and create a new digital culture.
Most organizations will have folks that will try to represent each of these approaches. It is dangerous to develop a holistic approach until there is a base of competencies, skills and experiences related to digital, but it a more dangerous to not have consistent executive strategy for digital.