Characteristics of successful digital transformation: Gerd Schenkel

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Organisations risk making three common mistakes during their digital transformations, says Gerd Schenkel, a partner at Kearney, as well as chair of Credit Clear Limited, an ASX listed fintech.

And these three mistakes?;

  • They assume it's a project with an  end date, rather than a new way of operating
  • They rely too much on one leader to drive change
  • and they believe  IT vendors who tell them a platform implementation is all they need.

 Kearney, which recently conducted a study with technology and digital leaders at about 50 large organisations to identify the common characteristics of digital transformation success and discusses the results of that study with Digital Nation.

“The primary mistake or error, we see large corporates making when they talk about digital transformation is they see it often as a one-off a project or a program or one technology being deployed, as opposed to a state of being where a company continuously innovates and adopts new technologies, experiments and evolves itself over time on a continuous basis,” Schenkel says.

He believes that too many organisations equate a platform they have bought from a vendor with a genuine end to end and ongoing transformation.

According to Schenkel, vendor-driven programs are often the most exposed to a one-off velocity, fizzling out due to a lack of commitment.

Sponsorship of digital transformation programs by leaders is necessary but not sufficient, and sometimes it can actually be problematic over the long term.

“It's super important that an organisations doesn't rely on one single person or one single executive,” he says.

“Google wasn't built in three years either, or Facebook. Those places are decades old and have had sustained velocity and as we know, technologies are being deployed and invented at an increasing rate. Therefore, the possibilities are multiplying at an increasing rate. So organisations need to have an increasing rate of velocity to match that otherwise, ultimately you'll be left behind. So, velocity is what it's all about.”

You can find evidence for this in Australia’s big banking sector.

“Generically speaking, we've got one or two of the banks in Australia, at least, who are at varying stages of a sustained program.”

“When they announced their ambitious program, two or three generations of management ago, people were [asking] why they are doing that. And now it's an acknowledged competitive advantage. And people understand they have an advantage because of what they started 10 or 15 years ago.”

Importantly the work by the team at Kearny not only reveals the problems organisations face, it also identifies common characteristics of success sustained over the long term.

The research identified five archetypes that signify the maturity of a company’s digital transformation.

“Just because you do one program or you deploy one particular technology platform successfully, yes, you have some velocity for a period of time.

“You're more digital than you were, but the world moves on and you stay there and you slowly fade back to the bottom left of the quadrant. To be in the top right hand, which is what we call the digital superstar, you need to have an ongoing velocity.”

“Often it's linked to executive appointments, be that the CEO, or CIO, or they sponsor a big program. And if the successor doesn't sponsor another program, or picks up where the other one left off, you tend to have to sort of stop, start. And that means basically built-in mediocrity.”


The video was produced by Josh Lundberg and Matthew Ryan.

© Digital Nation

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