German engineer and economist, Klaus Schwab, claims that the world has entered into The Fourth Industrial Revolution, one that unites physical, digital, and biological worlds – impacting all disciplines, economies, and industries. Consequently, traditional business models are rapidly dwindling – only to be replaced by those that are in sync with modern times. More or less, it’s in response to reshape the value propositions and operating models to uphold a distinguished competitive edge. Digital transformation, and thereby digital transformation provider, is emerging as a natural medium to achieve it.
Though digital transformation enables organizations to adapt to new technologies, it’s still away from the radar of many companies. The important, if not the most important, reason for this palpable reluctance is their inability to select the right digital transformation provider. Note that digital transformation success depends on the ability of digital transformation provider to implement and integrate digital channels into the respective organization’s ecosystem. Apart from the right technology, it inherently involves the right people, processes, and engagement.
Successful digitalization, thus, demands the strategic utilization of multiple roles – creative specialists, enterprise architects, software engineers, analysts, and operational excellence experts are a few to name. Naturally, developing all these necessary specializations in-house or bringing in such diverse recruits is not as easy as it sounds. And when you factor in the budget constraints of a CIO, it becomes even harder.
Another mistake that many companies do while selecting a digital transformation provider is they begin with a list of features and functions they want.Now, it may not be the wrong approach. But if you are creating your features before you have finalized your mission statement, there is a possibility that you might end up with a feature set without knowing where you are heading to. Ideally, your technology partner should align both your mission statement and the feature set you will need to achieve your business goals.
Evaluating your technology partner by using a feature set as the primary lever, thus, can make you miss the valuable components that you might not have considered. That’s precisely why it becomes of vital importance to measure your digital transformation provider on certain proven criteria. The sole purpose of this blog is to gravely highlight those key criteria.
1) Ask for The Roadmap:
You will not understand clearly where your digital transformation provider is headed if you start with features and functions. It’s better to demand a roadmap session. Look at the elements for which you have an immediate need for along with the other areas that may apply to your domain of work. At the end of it, you should be able to observe and analyze the vision of your vendor in totality.
2) Technical Competence:
Regardless of the grandness of the vision of your digital transformation provider and how detailed his/her roadmap is, it will be unachievable if there is no technical competency. Therefore, it’s one of the primary things to see if your vendor has a dedicated team of technical experts who can actually conceptualize the solution that you want. Go to the bones of the vendor’s technology kernel, operations scalability, workforce models, and working prototypes. Without this, you cannot be assured whether your partner’s technology expertise is the perfect fit for your unique requirements. This is the point where you should prefer a technically agnostic consulting firm over a specific product partner.
3) Architectural Review:
The best way to check the flexibility of your digital transformation provider is to perform a thorough architectural review. It is necessary to gauge the degree to which the solution you are seeing is structured to interact with your architecture. A closed architecture directly indicates that you will have more worry about maintaining down the roadmap. That’s why you must ask questions about integration standards like does the offering includes open API’s and what standards do they support. You should also inquire about the last major technology rewrite. Note that there are things hidden in the architecture you won’t know about until you dig dipper in it.
4) Client Priority VS Process Priority:
One of the essential criterion while zeroing on digital transformation provider is the planned partnership structure, and how a partner envisions to support your organization in rough times. It’s important to understand the vendor’s ideologies regarding high-priority and time-sensitive requirements. Ask your vendor where he/she adheres to strict procedures to solve a client’s need or shows street smartness of breaking those rules to address your steep business challenge. Also, inquire about how your partner’s teams will collaborate with your people and what points of communication they will establish. All in all, it’s always advisable to go for an agency that will give preference to the client’s immediate needs than the rigid rules.
5) Paths of Escalation:
Keep in mind that total digital transformation is a fraught activity. Though it should ideally go from point A to point B without any hindrance, that’s usually not the case. Sometimes, the wireframe needs to be rejigged, sometimes the processes have to be altered; and sometimes, certain aspects take more time than what you had expected.
It does throw up a scenario where you and your digital transformation partner will be in a serious conflict –strangling the possibility of greater collaboration. That’s where a need for a holistic grievance redressal mechanism screams with a high decibel. It makes a clear case for you to study your vendor’s escalation levels, the expected response time, the designations of the people involved in this task, and how difficult it is to communicate with the head of that task.
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