Digital Evolution Series – Part Two

Published: 03/04/2023
Author: Vidatec

Five key shifts needed for Digital Evolution

In my last post, we talked about the need to shift from digital transformation (a disruptive shift achieved via the digitisation of non-digital products) to digital evolution – the continual adoption and refinement of new/emerging technologies.

Leaving digital transformation in the past and adopting digital evolution is essential for ensuring that businesses can continue advancing at a steady and sustainable pace in service of their customers, in line with the latest developments and with a people-centred approach.

However, with digital evolution comes a new long-term way of thinking – very different to the ‘go big or go home’ digital transformation mindset. If your evolution journey is to be sustained and successful you will need to make shifts in key areas:

Shift 1 – Objective setting

Before embarking on your digital evolution journey, it’s essential that you have clarity and alignment on where you are heading and an understanding of the key milestones along the way. Specifically, a roadmap can provide clarity on:

  • Your current versus desired future state/digital capabilities, with any gaps identified
  • Measurable KPIs & success criteria
  • Key stakeholders (both internal and external)
  • Prioritisation of the technology change agenda

Spending time upfront on your roadmap will ensure everyone remains focused throughout your journey and that you can track progress throughout.

Just remember though that your roadmap will be a long term, rolling one, which may need to evolve over time. It doesn’t necessarily have an end point, but it may have checkpoints. So remain open-minded and flexible to change.

Also make sure you constantly review your own objectives against the changing priorities of the organisation internally and externally, as this will enable you to remain aligned with business goals.

Shift 2 – Mapping your digital estate

Once you’ve created your digital evolution roadmap, map your existing digital estate and revisit this continually. This should include details of the platform and technology stack in use and its key features.

  •  Mapping your digital estate will help you:
  • Identify patterns of overlap between your existing platform capabilities/features
  • Understand customer or audience touchpoints across the digital products and services you provide
  • Uncover ways that platforms and data can come together to deliver new products, services and experiences for your customers and end-users.

The use of analytics and customer surveys can also play a key role in analysing the effectiveness of your existing technologies.

Shift 3 – Skills development

The next stage is to carry out a robust skills/gap analysis that will uncover the skills needed to achieve your objectives and technology capabilities. Key things to consider can include:

  • Web development expertise (including consolidating – where possible – your technology stack)
  • Mobile application development expertise
  • The role of UX, service design and customer research and insights
  • Analytics and business intelligence
  • Data engineering
  • DevOps

In considering the above, keep your core objectives in mind. What skillsets are required to deliver on your key priorities. Where do you have gaps? Where might it make sense to recruit versus where you can lean on external partners?

At this point, it’s important to stress that for any digital evolution programme to be successful you should loop in relevant stakeholders – including your HR and PMO partners – and ensure your change plan is underpinned with ongoing appropriate training and development opportunities. This must be supported by a robust communications and engagement plan.

Shift 4 –Business alignment

The single best way to practice digital evolution – and maximise your investment – is to break down any silos and ensure full business alignment. In moving from a siloed/singular to a connected/ongoing approach you inevitably move from digital transformation to digital evolution. To achieve this, a holistic approach to digital evolution is essential, including:

  • A clear digital evolution strategy underpinned by solid comms/engagement
  • The right expertise in place prior to launching your strategy
  • The identification of KPIs, reviewed regularly. This includes understanding how they’re measured, and how everyone is accountable for their performance
  • A formal review process to ensure the strategy can flex as and when needed
  • Making the best use of existing technologies in support of digital evolution
  • Nurturing a culture of continuous improvement and innovation

Shift 5 – Financial mindset

It’s also important to understand that digital evolution requires a different financial mindset to transformation.

It’s typical to have significant upfront investment for digital transformation – but the danger here is that money is spent quickly and easily because of the hunger to deliver big, and fast. Digital evolution requires a mindset shift toward regular, sustainable long-term investment, over a period of time to create meaningful improvements.

A good approach is to ensure a clear and concise business case against each item on your roadmap. What will be the result of the feature or capability? What market, customer or stakeholder benefits will it unlock? How long will it take to realise this benefit? These questions will support your prioritisation, ensuring focused spend where it delivers the most benefit.

Spearheaded by technology leaders, organisations must make these five shifts to adopt a digital evolution mindset. Initially, it might feel like you’re swimming against the digital current, but ultimately, it will ensure incremental, continuous improvement across your digital offerings.