DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION DEFINED:
WHAT PROJECT MANAGERS NEED TO KNOW
Digital transformation, or DX, is one of the hottest topics your customers are talking about right now. According to BCG, 80% of all companies are considering taking on a DX project in the next 12 months, and this percentage is likely to rise as COVID-19 continues to hang around.
Let’s look at three important questions related to digital transformation projects:
What is digital transformation?
What areas of an organization are impacted by DX?
How is this impacting Project Management?
“Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. This reimagining of business in the digital age is digital transformation.” – SFDC
What better place to find the definition of DX than Salesforce.com, one of the companies that is defining the move to digital processes and practices for businesses across the globe. However, it is important to note that DX isn’t just digitizing records. True, DX involves moving physical records to digital storage, but that doesn’t mean that organizations are getting the most value out of their information. New workflows, new terminology, and new buy-in from leadership are all critical drivers of a digital transformation project being successful. Additionally, successful DX projects require institutional and organizational changes at all levels, and in some cases require a complete reworking of leadership vision as well as adoption of best practices around managing goods, people, and projects.
DX impacts the entire organization. There are key areas that project managers will need to examine as they embark on DX projects. DX projects typically incorporate new and emerging technologies, like Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, and Internet of Things (IoT), with an emphasis on understanding data and technology terms, developing new workflows, adjusting communication flows, and creating completely new team structures. Under a DX project, the results measurements are likely to be much more customer centric, require working with cutting-edge technologies and could result in different teamwork dynamics. The whole organization from top to bottom needs to be prepared for these types of changes, and that includes project managers.
Project managers are increasingly being asked to lead or be a part of digital transformation projects at their companies. Often these projects will challenge the old way of doing something and update it to use a more efficient or modern technology, like how Amazon has changed the way all of us shop. The result is the same, but the processes and steps we go through to make a purchase on Amazon, and what goes on behind the scenes is quite different than what happens in a basic brick and mortar storefront. The biggest challenge currently facing PMs is that DX projects are using technologies that have their own language associated around them, and without some basic knowledge of Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Cloud, Cybersecurity, etc., even the most experienced PM can easily get lost.
All of this is leading to an increase in demand for experienced project managers who also understand the emerging technology landscape and have been trained in how to best handle digital transformation projects.