How does a digital factory guarantee a successful digital transformation?

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A representation of database infrastructure.

Any organization undergoing digital transformation knows that it is a lot of work and that it entails a lot of changes. It puts an end to the old way of doing business and brings in new techniques to operate. Digital transformation is best ushered in by a digital factory, one that guarantees that your efforts are not wasted and has the agility to help you respond to changes. A digital factory has four significant dimensions, called STEP, meaning:

  • Structure
  • Talent
  • Ecosystem
  • Process

A successful digital factory needs a strong structure, a sort of blueprint for successful delivery and development. It will help you know how big a team you need, what role each team plays, where architecture is going to be used, how testing is going to be conducted, and how agile governance happens. A good structure needs to include product management and a roadmap of how these products are going to be marketed.

This dimension forces you to identify and source the people you need for the delivery of digital technology and solutions. Transforming your people in a digital transformation is an important step, and involves less of leveraging existing talents, and more of acquiring new skills such as creative and design thinking. This dimension is more oriented to the business side rather than the technology side.

The ecosystem dimension involves data services, record systems, cloud services, service buses, application lifecycle, business operations, and DevOps tools. This dimension is a roadmap on how you are going to integrate or build continuous and extensible change and how you could improve your capabilities.

You should also consider the processes that you would need to implement or change in order to make way for the new methods of delivering software. This dimension will guide you on how each part of the organization would interact with the others, specifically how IT would work with the business side to guarantee success using the improved capabilities. The successful digital factory would need an integrated delivery capability for its software, which closes the gap between IT and business.

Digital transformation stages

Every digital transformation involves three stages: foundation, center of excellence, and fully transformed digital business.

  1. The first project team is enabled and delivers the first project successfully. This project would become the basis for your digital transformation, a use case that can be utilized to solve a problem. This would give your business the confidence to pursue other, more ambitious projects.
  2. Center of excellence. This is when more and more teams in your organization build on the success of the first team. With improved capabilities, it is going to be easier to integrate earlier projects in other parts of the business. In this stage, in addition to being successful, you would need to add governance as well.
  3. Full digital enterprise. Having a full digital enterprise means that you get to integrate all the use cases and all the projects to your organization. The organization becomes agile and your business is able to adapt faster to more challenging and increasingly competitive market conditions.

To make it simpler, here is how it should look like:

  • Foundation: Your organization develops a better shopping cart.
  • Center of excellence: Different teams in your organization develop a better shopping cart, a better inventory system, and a better leads generation system.
  • Full digital enterprise: You take all of these components together to deliver the best sales and customer experience there is.

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Digital transformation should not be taken lightly. It is not something that just happens; you need a structured and well-thought out approach to be successful. Coming up with a digital factory is the easiest way to have that kind of blueprint as it takes into consideration the four dimensions you would need for digital transformation. What’s more, the digital factory allows you to transform in stages, with one stage building on the success of the previous stage.

In short, a digital factory not only guarantees a successful digital transformation, it also helps take away a lot of the complexities you do not need, and helps IT and business work together.

Photo courtesy of CommScope (Flickr).

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