Good e-Learning recently held a webinar where subject matter experts Richard de Kock and David Cannon answered questions from practitioners on utilizing and succeeding with digital transformation initiatives.

The goal was never merely to sell the idea of digital transformation but to clear away confusion over what it entails and how it creates value. Attendees at ‘5 Quick & Effective Ways to Drive Success in any Digital Transformation Program’ offered questions on several different industries and frameworks, focusing on practical application and optimization rather than just buzzwords.

In this article, we provide the answers to the third round of questions.

Shivakumar: How does digital transformation manage data piracy and ensure data integrity and data security?

All organizations need to have well-established security and compliance capabilities, especially if the organization will be processing and transporting customer or sensitive information in or outside of the organization’s IT perimeter (i.e., cloud). Most companies use standards such as ISO 27000, PCI (Payment Card Industry) Security, etc., to get some muscle behind their security practices. With digital transformation, the following additional considerations need to be taken:

  • Data governance and compliance (i.e., GDPR) – How are you ensuring you are aligning to your regulator’s personal information legislation? Do you know where (region) your customers’ information is processed and stored in the cloud? Do you have a process in place to address customers’ requests around the processing of their personal information? It is important that you have the data governance in place to ensure all personal information is processed, stored, and managed in alignment with regulations and customer requests
  • Rapidly changing cloud features and updates – Many cloud providers publish new features to their cloud technology on an ongoing basis. These are pushed to an organization’s environment, and many of the changes cannot be stopped. How is your security management capability involved in reviewing these changes and establishing suitable responses prior to them being rolled out into your environment (assuming you are checking your vendor update roadmap like you should be)?
  • DevOps practices – Many organizations are needing to run at speed and cannot afford for security management to be a blocker or bottleneck to new features being rolled out to customers. How will your security capability be enhanced using automated security testing so that the risks around new updates and features are suitably assessed and prevented, should there be risks?
  • Use of emerging technology – How is your technology team involved during the evaluation of new emerging technology to ensure security risks are being identified prior to its implementation? I.e., what information is shared and processed with new types of technologies, and what potential vulnerabilities exist that can be exploited?

Your digital transformation initiative or program of work can take on many shapes and forms, and there is, unfortunately, no single simple answer here. The key to success here relies on how engaged your security team is throughout the process and to ensure that they are not forming a bottleneck to the progress of the transformation as they are likely going to transform as well and adopt new security practices such as those seen in DevOps and DevSecOps. Security should not become part of the problem – instead, they need to become part of the solution.

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Clarissa: In your experience, what have you found is the most challenging aspect of digital transformation in your business?

Hands down, managing people and change is the most challenging aspect of digital transformation. Challenges in technology, processes, or with partners can easily be overcome if you have the right people who have the appropriate skills, are engaged, and are bought into the change.

You can quite literally implement the most sophisticated technologies and processes to address customer challenges and provide value to customers, but if people are not willing to adopt the technology and processes and change the way they work, there is a very high likelihood the change will fail, and the customer will be negatively impacted.

Organizations need to ensure they are placing a great deal of attention and effort into organizational change management and make sure they are establishing formal processes to guide their organization through a structured change program. If your organization has limited experience with this, it is advisable to temporarily insource specialists to help you build the muscle to perform organizational change on your own.

Organizations need to ensure they are future readying/proofing their workforce to ensure they can quickly adopt new technologies and ways of working. Examples of key skills include:

  • Agile methods and ways of working
  • Cloud technology and development skills like low code development (development languages that are really simple for business users to pick up to start innovating with, such as through the use of Power Platform from Microsoft https://bit.ly/2ZjcHLm)
  • Customer Experience Design Management
  • Service Design
  • Etc.

The pace of change is rapid, and so organizational cultures need to transform into continual learning cultures. This means people in the organization need to be including learning as part of their ways of working. Examples of methods to train skills include:

Omar: How to address cultural issues on digital transformation projects?

This is a tricky one to answer because there is a multitude of causes of cultural issues, each requiring an emphasis on particular change interventions best suited to the issue. As an example, is it because changes have always failed in the past that people are not willing to entertain new types of change projects? Is it because we have leaders who are not providing adequate support or walking the walk, resulting in people not taking new projects seriously? Is it perhaps because the organizations are very hierarchical in nature and the leadership style very autocratic, and thus people are holding on to their power base to maintain their influence? Or perhaps it is because, through mergers, two cultures are clashing, resulting in multiple cultural issues?

We typically address cultural issues in parallel to projects we need to implement. The first and most vitally important success factor is getting real senior sponsorship for the project outcomes. ‘Real’ means the sponsor needs to be actively visible, engaged, and invested throughout the project – not just to sign off the project and expect people to make it happen.

Next, we need to focus our attention and efforts on establishing formal organizational change management processes to accompany projects and IT change functions. These processes need to focus on formally guiding people within the organization through changes in a structured and predictable fashion. The challenge with change management is that individuals experience it in their own ways and at their own pace, so having a formalized approach to guiding people through any transition is vitally important.

Some examples of things the organizational change process needs to focus on addressing include:

  • People resistance management (proactive/reactive)
  • Communication
  • Training and coaching
  • Sponsorship management
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Richard de Kock

With over 17 years of experience in the Service Management industry, Richard currently works for Microsoft where he has been assisting organizations in modernizing their cloud strategies, operating models, and cloud capabilities.

Across the tenure of his career, Richard has engaged organizations of all sizes across the globe in a variety of industry verticals to resolve complex strategic and operational challenges using a multitude of frameworks and standards.

Richard is an award-winning consultant who holds a Master of Science degree in Service Management from Northampton University in England and specialized in digital transformation practices and capabilities. Richard is currently authoring the ITIL 4 Digital & IT Strategy book and has co-authored VeriSM: Unwrapped and Applied released in 2018.

David Cannon

As a business executive and consultant, David Cannon has led and contributed to digital transformation initiatives of various scopes and sizes across several organizations. He specializes in defining and implementing strategies in a challenging digital world, from IT back-office to front-line business processes.

He has seen what happens when strategies work and when they don’t, and brings the benefits of these lessons to his writing and consulting work.

Over the years, David has used ITIL as a practitioner, consultant, and business executive in companies that include Hewlett-Packard, BMC Software, and Forrester. He is also the lead editor of the ITIL® 4 Digital and IT Strategy book, as well as the co-author of the ITIL® v3 Service Operation book in 2007 and the ITIL® v3 Service Strategy book in 2011.