You depend on your AS/400 systems for critical parts of your business operation. However, you need to make a major change to keep up with the latest operational requirements. Collaborative and connected infrastructures empower companies to adapt quickly to changing markets, streamline their operations and produce a seamless customer experience. In most cases, you need to take your existing systems through a digital transformation to achieve these goals. Before you dive into a technology-forward new world, you need to ask yourself whether or not your organization is ready for a digital transformation.
Start With a Disruptive Vision
Many companies jump into digital transformation by looking at the solutions they can procure or putting together a list of improvements to their existing business processes. You might accomplish incremental improvement with this approach, but you don’t undergo a complete transformation.
Take a step back. Think about a truly disruptive vision that uses technology as the backbone. Brainstorm how a fully integrated and collaborative infrastructure could open up entirely new business models, job roles, revenue streams and business processes. Keep the technology at the forefront of your vision.
Develop the Necessary Skills Internally and Through Expert Partners
Another digital transformation strategy pitfall comes from the increased reliance on innovative technology, as many companies lack the resources to support these high skill positions effectively. Trying to recruit during the transformation process is also difficult, as the supply of specialists often falls far below the demand.
You end up trying to have existing staff do the work of multiple positions or spending significant money bringing in contractors and consultants to support your efforts. You can avoid many of these problems through a robust internal skills development program that’s in place long before you begin the digital transformation process.
Work with the HR department and team managers to surface staff members interested in expanding their skill sets and learning the technology that forms the core of your future operations. This move also positions you as an excellent company to work for, as many employees look for organizations that invest in their training and education. Upward mobility is an attractive prospect for many talented individuals.
You don’t want to use consultants and contractors for the parts of the operation that require full-time attention, as this isn’t cost efficient, but you do want to form relationships with a solid stable of trusted partners. One-off needs or high-volume periods are easier to handle when you can bring in experts that guide your team and provide a valuable perspective on the transformation.
Base Your Planning Around Quantifiable Results
Gut feelings and intuition can derail your digital transformation before it really gets off the ground. You need hard data to refer to when you need to discover problem areas in this process, gauge employee buy-in and reception, and finding out whether it’s truly giving your customers what they want.
Make a list of the most important key performance indicators that show your success rate. Each metric should be a meaningful part of the information, rather than looking at data for the sake of it being available. By focusing on a short list of metrics, you can keep your attention on the things that matter during your digital transformation.
Add Tech-Forward and Collaborative Ideals to Your Company Culture
Digital transformation requires a future-thinking company culture that is tech forward and collaborative in nature. Without investing in a culture change, you run into significant resistance, high employee turnover, and other problems. Work these ideas into the way that you’re doing business currently, so your organization is prepared by the time the digital transformation is fully underway.
Being eager to get started on digital transformation is understandable. You get much more out of your AS/400 systems when you can connect them with other parts of your business for an innovative and ground-breaking approach. However, you have to take the right approach to get a true digital transformation that puts your business on the right track for future competitiveness.
Written by Grant Sojnocki
Grant Sojnocki, President of Able-One Systems, has extensive experience in executive and leadership roles at innovative technology companies such as IBM, Arrow Electronics, Neopost and Avnet. His positive outlook, passion and creative thinking skills serve him well when it comes to digital transformation, allowing him to deliver high-value solutions to Able-One Systems' clients.