Monday, December 7, 2015

2016 Predictions: Serious Digital Business Progress

When I look back on 2015, I saw organizations working diligently on creating a better user experience leveraging social mobile and the cloud. Some of the leading organizations were exploring new or extended business models leveraging digital technologies as they explored where they were headed in the dynamic digital world. Most organizations were trying to get their hands on how to plan the digital transformations in a incremental and rational manner. Some organizations, under serious business model threats, seemed to be reacting while the other majority of organizations were trying to learn how to better plan to transition to a better digital business.

2016 will be a very different animal. Traction will start to appear by creating target plans that can evolve with experience while working on some of the initial steps showing early success and lessons learned. Listed below are what I expect to see out of the fast follower organizations and a percentage of the follower organizations.

Crisper Digital Transformation Plans:

Expect to see better plans with targeted plans that bring together thought through structures including architecture diagrams, cost/benefits, organization, skills, technologies, projects, experiments and measures of success with feed back loops. These plans will consider executive vision, competitive comparison, constituent input, constraints, digital technologies and salvage plans for legacy business processes and applications.

Serious Point of View Journey Mapping:

Up until now a better customer experience has been a key driver for digital. This will continue, but other constituents will play a role as well. This includes partners, employees and vendors. As the walls between organizations disappear and the linkage of the virtual and physical worlds change, mapping journeys and points of view will be essential in creating a digital experience that wins for all involved. Right now organizations optimize on their own experience; not the perceptions and contexts of others interfacing with their organization.

Innovation Through Experimentation:

Not all plans will be baked, so there will be a certain amount of experimentation happening. This kind of fail fast and cheap approach will ripple through many of an organization on the way to the new digital world. For organizations that do not plan, this is a way to demonstrate potential. For those that do plan, isolating risk is a key habit that can be supported by experimentation. This way plans can be updated with emerging experience even if a great plan was created to start.

Incremental Delivery Guided by Goals:

It is important to keep the goals pretty stable, but the journey to those goals may vary and shift during the execution of any incremental plan. Evolution and emergence will play a significant role in the digital journey, but not creating an initial plan with solid expected outcomes and goals is risky. Incremental delivery gives a chance for low risk failure like experimentation.

Skills Shortages Driving Internal Development:

There will be skill shortages and organizations are accustomed to not investing in their people through education and training. This will change. The skills shortage will so severe, that organizations will be forced to invest in internal skill building over time. Short term savings for some of the digital projects can be used as a capital funding mechanism for skills development. Experimentation and incremental approaches reduces the investment and time line for skills mastery.

Learning New Change and Development Methods:

New or refurbished methods for quick and big change will have to evolve. Organizations committed to "wagile" methods that combine the best of the agile methods such as SCRUM with some of the planning disciplines in water fall and sequential methods, will benefit the most. Fast change management will become critical and people will have to be rewarded to embrace this kind of change now that the threat of losing their jobs has lost it's effectiveness for now. It could rear it's head again.

Leveraging Change Friendly Tools & Techniques:

Many of the emerging digital technologies support incremental development and composition. It will be important to select types of technologies that allow for a "do it; try it and fix it" approach. Business process management tools are particularly good at this, but few other tools categories have the model driven approach to development, testing and improving.

Net; Net:

In 2016 organizations will get serious about digital while they save enough money to fund the digital efforts by the incremental delivery of funding. This will sort out the pretenders from the winners. We will see emerging success and failures in 2016. We have a lot to learn and change in 2016.

Further Reading on Digital Plans:

Additional Reading on Digital:

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