Digital Transformation – What Is It Really?

Parthasarathy Narayanan, AVP, Product Engineering, Bristlecone

(Source Unknown)

I am sure you have seen this image many times. Seeing this image again prompted me to write this article.

I wonder why somebody did this. If this rock holds some architectural or archaeological significance, then perhaps this is the perfect design protecting it. But this does not appear to be the case. Whoever did this should have moved the rock and put in a straight pipe, right? Let’s analyze who the key players are and who can be blamed for this poor design.

Who’s at Fault?

The plumber who did this must be an expert in his job – he made perfect joints, used perfect fittings. But clearly, he was only paid to do the piping, not remove the rocks, so it wouldn’t be fair to blame him alone.

I put the responsibility on the landlord or manager, who should have given clear directions and thought through the entire design, or redesign, before hiring the plumber for this job. The redesign could have involved relocating the rock, or laying the pipe elsewhere. Perhaps the person overseeing the project should have engaged an architect to look at the entire design and confirm that this was the best plan. There are always better alternatives, if only you take the time to find them.

The design should also have been reviewed while the work was in progress. Sometimes things that were previously overlooked can be fixed during the implementation of the plan. And finally, before the landlord or manager signed off on the satisfactory completion of the work, there was one more chance to fix any problems, while the plumber was still engaged.

Now it is too late and too expensive to redo the work.

Digital Transformation

This two-word phrase is very popular. You see it everywhere. Everyone is talking about digital transformation. But what is it, really? Well, let’s start with what it’s not. It’s not ‘translating existing design.’

It is redesign.

Digital transformation looks at an entire process, or series of processes, or focuses on specific business areas that can benefit from fresh ideas and reinvention. It is changing the old way of doing things to new and better ways through the use of modern technologies. It is being open-minded, rethinking and reimagining business processes or functional areas and seeing what redesign makes possible.

Transformation Best Practices

I have been part of many supply chain transformations, now largely defined as business transformations or digital transformations, that include newer technologies like cloud, artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, etc. While ‘digital transformation’ may seem like a newer phrase, it’s actually a very well-practiced and well-established capability of companies like Bristlecone – and success stories are common.

We always begin digital transformation initiatives with an assessment of existing processes, engaging business leaders to design a blueprint, before we jump into implementation. We explore the possibilities, rethink and reimagine. And we make sure all the stakeholders are in agreement on a new design before moving forward.

During implementation when the actual transformation is happening, it’s critical to engage the right professionals. I always advise my customers ‘to engage a team,’ not individual consultants. The team should be a collection of experienced people who have done similar jobs together – collectively leveraging their individual thoughts and strengths.

When the implementation is in process, we do multiple reviews and perform multiple dry-runs of new processes. And after the job is complete, a thorough review and final testing must be done prior to final signoff.

Transformation Success

What makes digital transformation initiatives successful?

Recognizing that digital transformation is a journey. Engaging the right stakeholders. Bringing in a competent team. Leveraging established best practices. Seeing the big picture … and being open to new ideas.