Are you ready to make digital transformation a success?

Posted on : 15-01-2020 | By : kerry.housley | In : FinTech, Innovation

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Digital Transformation is a phrase that businesses are all too familiar with but there are many interpretations of what it means. Companies large or small feel this is an opportunity that they cannot afford to miss!

All too often a decision is made at the top when an executive says we must do “more digital” with little understanding of what this involves and how this will affect their daily business operations. Companies are under huge pressure to get onboard with this process, they fear that if they do not, they will be left behind and watch their competitive edge slip away

Traditional organisational change failure rates are already reported to be 60-80 %, when it comes to digital transformation the story is much worse. A Bain survey reported that just 5% of companies involved in digital transformation achieved or exceeded the expectations that they had set themselves. Many of these companies had settled for very little return on investment and mediocre performance.

There are many reasons for such poor outcomes but one of the reasons is that many firms jump on this bandwagon far too early without thinking it through at a higher strategic level.  Often the starting point is “we need to go digital”, looking for areas of the business to implement the technology, usually this is a strong pain point that they want to fix.  Digital transformation is not about fixing isolated pain points but more about finding ways in which a company can improve their customer journey and provide the best level of service they can. Companies overlook this and go straight ahead putting digital solutions into various parts of the business rather than thinking of this as an enterprise wide initiative.

Another reason for failure is a total lack of investment in areas outside the digital arena. In order to successfully implement any change, there must be a clear reason for doing so. This message must be communicated throughout the organisation from the Board level at the top through to the workers on the frontline. It is here that many companies fail to invest the time and money required, and without the understanding and buy-in of all involved success will very difficult to achieve.

Technology is constantly improving, and companies are keen to be seen as the leaders in their field. There is no doubt for those who are successful in their digital transformation the rewards are immense in terms improved customer service and increased revenue. The problem is that not every company needs or indeed will benefit from digital transformation. Technology is not a one size fits all. Often, companies are so keen to be seen as innovators so they rush into it and buy the “next big thing” without any clear idea how they will use it and what the benefits might be.

Introducing traditional change into an organization is no easy feat, and digital transformation with all it entails is a far greater challenge.

The operating model is a crucial starting point, what does it look like and how can technology work within this model to give the best results. Many organisations are operating based on models that are out of date with their business goals and not agile enough to keep up with the fast pace of customer expectations and technology change.

All the business departments must work together to confirm the business processes and look at how these processes can benefit from digital intervention.

In the Broadgate office we often talk about people, process and technology and it is the people part here which will ensure that the innovations proposed will benefit what is actually happening in the business on a day to day basis. These are the people who have the understanding to see how a process can be improved and they are the people who can ensure your success. As we said earlier, investing heavily in the planning process and getting the culture and the environment ready for change cannot be underestimated but is often overlooked.

From the boardroom to the post room everyone must understand the business, what your business is trying to achieve so that everyone can understand the benefits of the digital change.

Digital transformation is not a one-time project but an ongoing improvement strategy.  Organisations should always be thinking how they can keep improving their business and how they can offer their customers the best experience.

Is your business ready for digital transformation?

  • Is your operating model ready?
  • Are your business processes ready?
  • Is your board ready?
  • Are your employees ready?
  • Is your company culture ready?

If the answer is yes to all the above, then you have a good basis on which to start and might just be in with a chance of success!

Welcoming Robots to the Team

Posted on : 30-05-2018 | By : richard.gale | In : Finance, FinTech, Innovation

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Research suggests that that the adoption of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and AI technologies is set to double by 2019. This marks a fundamental change in how organisations work and the potential impact on employees should not be underestimated.

For many years we have seen robots on the factory floor where manual processes have been replaced by automation. This has drastically changed the nature of manufacturing and has inevitably led to a reduction in these workforces.  It is understandable therefore, that we can hear the trembling voices of city workers shouting, “the robots are coming!”

Robotic software should not be thought of as the enemy but rather as a friendly addition to the IT family.  A different approach is needed. If you were replacing an excel spreadsheet with a software program an employee would see this as advantage, as it makes their job quicker and easier to do, therefore welcome the change. Looking at RPA in the same way will change the way employees view its implementation and how they feel about it.

There is no doubt that in some cases RPA is intended as a cost saver but organisations that see RPA as simply a cost saving solution will reap the least rewards. For many companies who have already completed successful RPA programmes, the number one priority has been to eliminate repetitive work that employees didn’t want or need to do. Approaching an RPA project in a carefully thought out and strategic manner will provide results that show that RPA and employees can work together.

Successful transformation using RPA relies on an often used but very relevant phrase  “it’s all about the People Process and Technology”.  You need all three in the equation. It is undeniable that automation is a disruptive technology which will affect employees outlook and affect the way they work. Change management is key in managing these expectations. If robots are to be a part of your organisation, then your employees must be prepared and included.

Perhaps it’s time to demystify RPA, and see it for what is really is, just another piece of software! Automation is about making what you do easier to execute, with less mistakes and greater flexibility. It is important to demonstrate to your staff that RPA is part of a much wider strategic plan of growth and new opportunities.

It is vital to communicate with staff at every level, explaining the purpose of RPA and what it will mean for them. Ensure everyone understands the implications and the benefits of the transition to automation. Even though activities and relationships within an organisation may change this does not necessarily mean a change for the worst.

Employees must be involved from the start of the process. Those individuals who have previously performed the tasks to be automated will be your subject matter experts. You will need to train several existing employees in RPA to manage the process going forward.  Building an RPA team from current employees will ensure that you have their buy- in which is crucial if the implementation is to be a success.

With any new software training is often an afterthought. In the case of RPA training is more important than ever, ensuring that the robots and employees understand each other and can work efficiently together. Working to train RPA experts internally will result in a value-added proposition for the future when it comes to maintaining or scaling your solution.

When analysing the initial RPA requirements, a great deal of thought must be given to the employees who are being replaced and where their skills can be effectively be redeployed. Employee engagement increases when personnel feel that their contribution to the organisation is meaningful and widespread.

Consultation and collaboration throughout the entire process will help to ensure a smoother transition where everyone can feel the benefits. Following a successful RPA implementation share the results with everyone in your organisation.  Share the outcomes and what you have learnt, highlight those employees and teams that have helped along the way.

The robots are coming! They are here to help and at your service!

Top 10 Technology Disasters

Posted on : 30-04-2014 | By : jo.rose | In : Cyber Security

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Back in 2012 we wrote about Black Swans as related to IT projects (particularly those designated with the grand moniker of “Global”). The term was coined by the author and scholar Nassim Nicholas Taleb to:

“…describe high-impact events that are rare and unpredictable but in retrospect seem not so improbable.”

The report today on the events leading to the Co-operative Bank’s capital shortfall from Sir Christopher Kelly certainly makes for interesting, and cautionary reading.

Whilst much of the report delves into deficiencies in Governance, Risk, the Britannia Merger, relationship with the regulator, PPI mis-selling and the like, there is also a significant section dedicated to a botched IT Replatforming which, over a period of around 7 years, left a £300m write-off. Black Swan? Perhaps.

Either way, before the project was eventually canned the costs had ballooned to a potential £950m (£663m as re-scoped before the CBG Board eventually lost patience).

Kelly concluded with:

“It is critical for an organisation to understand the extent to which it is capable of managing large-scale change programmes. It is important to be realistic about the scale of projects undertaken, and the burden this places on the organisation. It is necessary to understand what good looks like, using best practices and experience from outside. It is essential to heed warnings and act upon them.”

The full report can be downloaded here, so you can make up your own view. Definitely recommended reading.

So, what about other IT Project disasters. Well, the landscape is littered with similar examples, but we’ve selected out Top 10 (that we can safely talk about…we think… ;-).

  1. Obamacare – one of the most recent. The healthcare.gov website was a shambles when launched in October, with US citizens resorting to phone lines and post.
  2. The Child Support Agency (EDS) – costs said to have been in the region of £1bn for a system that managed to overpay almost 2 million people and underpay 700k, ultimately assisting in the demise of the CSA.
  3. Passport System 1999 (Siemens) – an insufficiently tested, resourced and with poorly trained staff left half a million Brits without passports and many missing holidays.
  4. FoxMeyer Corp – a bungled ERP system implementation in 1996 actually help take FoxMeyer into bankruptcy (with $1bn in lawsuits issued against SAP and Anderson Consulting).
  5. Sainsbury’s Warehouse Automation – installed in 2003 the barcode based fulfilment system was supposed to streamline its operations for pretty much the whole of London and the Southeast. However, it immediately ran into technical issues and was eventually scrapped (but after 4 years!…)
  6. US Airforce ERP (CSC) – now, imagine spending $1bn on an ERP system and getting nothing? Well, that’s the outcome of the project started in 1995 and hit with software, contractual and infrastructure issues throughout.
  7. NHS patient record system (CSC) – the abandoned IT system, originally estimated at £6.4bn, stands at somewhere around £10bn. Described as “the biggest IT failure ever seen”
  8. Hershey SAP – back in 1999 Hershey’s stock dropped 8% after problems implementing a combination of SAP ERP, Siebel CRM and supply chain software firm Manugistics caused it to miss key product delivery deadlines for Halloween.
  9. Canada’s Gun Registration System (EDS/SHL) – back in 1997 a relatively modest IT project at $199m started but by 2001 was running at $688m, including $300m for support (admittedly, not helped by political changes).
  10. RBS integration of Natwest – whilst we have concentrated on projects, the recent IT debacles and the fact that what was largely a systems led integration was described by the Harvard Business Review in 2003 with the line “…The acquisition is remarkable for how successful it was” means it had to make it in.