According to a recent benchmark conducted by Mulesoft, 85% of IT leaders report that their organisations are undertaking digital transformation initiatives to increase efficiency across the business.  If these digital initiatives are aligned to all other aspects of the business, this is good stuff.  But if not, what challenges are these organisations likely to face by limiting themselves to just focussing on making things more efficient?

Efficiency has a focus on doing things in an optimal way i.e. better, faster and in a more cost effective manner.  This can work really well, but assumes you can predict what you need and assumes business processes and transactions are standardised; and you can predict demand; and have appropriate metrics in place to measure progress. But when you can’t predict these things, or don’t have the right metrics or standardisation in place, efficiency alone won’t deliver a return on investment or purpose. In some cases you just increase complexity and spin the wheels.

That’s where effectiveness needs to be factored into the equation. Effectiveness isn’t soley reliant of technology and, in most cases, it isn’t driven purely by business processes although it is supported by business process. Effectiveness has a goal and outcomes centricity, a key element of digital transformation one would think.  A focus on effectiveness is about planning, design, preparedness, adaptation and being able to cope with variation. These are all things that I believe should form part of a digital transformation.

This leads me to ask, where does culture fit into digital transformation initiatives?  Culture is often described as “this is the way we do things around here”. It is the set of values and behaviours that are demonstrated within the organisation and that are seen as the accepted norm. It’s also one of the hardest things to change, as most who have tried will attest. The implementation of digital technologies impacts culture as it not only changes how things are done, but also how people think, how they work and how they feel.

I have been studying this for the last 10 years as the Realising-Potential team have worked with organisations to optimise and transform their business models, technology infrastructures and operations.  My view is that efficiency, effectiveness and culture need to align, because the ultimate goal for any business is to build capability that supports strategic objectives and the needs of customers.

In the words of Margaret Heffernan “just because it can’t be counted doesn’t mean it doesn’t count”, so if you are progressing digital initiatives, think about efficiency, plus effectiveness, plus culture.  The results can be amazing.

For information on our optimisation and transformation platform, you can get it here.  It incorporates everything you need to undertake an optimisation and transformation initiative, a Gartner rated BPM application, models, templates and checklists.