Despite what some software companies may tell you, you can’t buy transformation in a box. True organisational change starts with people and process, and technology is just one of the tools that can help you along the way.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen organisations across a range of industries investing vast amounts in the next big digital solution in the hope it will provide instantaneous change. Often, it’s a waste of time and money, resulting in little to no effect. In many cases, the technology doesn’t match the business issue, leaving the organisation paying for functionality it doesn’t need.

Real transformation isn’t about one-size-fits-all systems or immediate results. It’s about leadership teams putting in the work to align non-technical business goals with the people and technology that will bring them to life. In most cases, those outcomes won’t be achieved without one to three years of steady effort.

Change starts with culture

Your business can’t make dramatic changes if your people aren’t on board. Transformation needs to start from the top, with the leadership team defining the problem that needs to be solved and paring it down to its elements. From there, you can set key business goals for long-term change.

Those transformational goals can be shared with other teams and woven into your business culture, so everyone is working to drive change in the right direction. Only then can the business start to explore possible digital solutions along with process adjustments — after all, there’s no value in technology if it doesn’t lead to meaningful change.

Focus on real-life results over specs

Technology is only worth the outcomes it delivers — the details of the software or hardware are less important. Any solution you choose should meet your organisational goals, now and into the future, but it shouldn’t be so over-featured that it wastes time or money.

Five steps to true transformation

We’re living through a strange time for businesses and individuals, with lockdowns and restrictions constraining our choices and making it difficult to plan for the future. Despite those limitations, transforming your business and delivering a new level of customer or employee experience is possible — it just means creating space for real reflection and focused planning.

Here’s how we do it:

Step one

Engage with the leaders and thinkers in your business — your C-suite, board, and management teams — to drill down into the problems facing your organisation. What are the non-technical challenges and what key objectives will help you overcome them?

Step two

Work to understand how your business functions by mapping its capability. This step is crucial, as it helps you define both your strengths and any gaps in your capability.

Step three

Engage your strategic leadership to review your findings and explore possible technology platforms and solutions, maintaining a focus on key business outcomes and business needs.

Step four

Reach out to experts to develop a road map for change. This might involve implementing new software systems, creating a change or process management plan, or a combination of the two.

Step five

As the steps toward transformation start, stay focused on your long-term business goals. Change shouldn’t be aimed at reaching a single point where all problems are solved, but about continual improvement and ongoing fine-tuning. Make sure everyone in your business is empowered to offer suggestions and feedback, no matter where in the change process they are.

There’s no shortcut to change

Transformation may not come in a box — no matter how expensive that box may be — but that doesn’t mean it’s not achievable. Like most business challenges, it’s about setting the right goals, getting the right people on board, and putting in the work. There’s no shortcut to serious organisational change, but it’s worth taking the long way around.

Andrew Cordwell is head of Foundry, an innovation team inside Datacom focused on reinventing the now with our customers. Andrew is passionate about driving transformational change with our customers via our value hacking methodologies, assisting them to drive directionally correct and aligned business strategies to grow their business.

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