Don’t start your digital transformation journey until you’ve considered this…

Published: 27 Aug 2020
Last reviewed: 24 Dec 2020

The rush to accelerate digital transformation programmes is on. For many, the Covid19 outbreak was a firm awakening that organisational change needs to happen fast and that now is the time to fully embrace digitalisation. With great uncertainty still on the horizon and risk of a second peak; strategic re-modelling, innovation and futureproofing have suddenly become a matter of urgency and survival.


Addressing the problems in hand 

Whilst there are no two membership organisations the same, each with their own complex agendas and sector priorities to consider, there have been many familiar stories when it comes to COVID19 and preparedness.  

  1. Was your organisation ready for remote operations ?  
  2. Did traditional and manual processes fail in a remote setting? 
  3. Did prominent organisational revenue centres suddenly cease to exist?  
  4. Did legacy systems and networks fail to keep the organisation connected? 

If any or all the above resonate with you, then you are certainly not alone. Whilst a large proportion of the membership sector have embraced digital and made significant progression in digital transformation, few are leading the way with a powerful digital first strategy.  


What this means for Digital Transformation success? 

With pressure to act quickly and a want to minimise operational disruption, there has been a tendency to try and bolt digital solutions around legacy strategies and approaches. This can provide short term efficiency gains and solve department specific issues, but often fails to build a solid digital foundation that will propel the entire organisation far into the future.  

70% of digital transformations still fail to achieve their strategic objectives. Although there are many reasons for this, we strongly believe organisational mindset and attitudes to change play a major role in this. 


So why not get started straight away?  

Covid19 may have been the wake-up call organisations needed to make change now, but at what cost? How long will it take? Will you have to make redundancies? What does the solution look like?  

In a blind panic to bridge the gaps and develop quick fixes, we strongly believe organisations stand to lose much more. Instead, take time to understand the intricate details of the organisation, highlight inefficiencies, uncover new opportunities and focus on developing a holistic digital-first strategy to increase your chances of success in the long-term: 


Some of our top tips for initiating change programmes in 2020 include: 


1. Building a holistic view of organisational needs 

With many complex departments and numerous revenue centres within any membership organisation, making sure you develop a solution which works for all is key. Traditionally there may have been a tendency to respond to the needs of each organisational department individually, providing the tools needed, at the time a department was ready to update. The long-term impact of this approach is a host of siloed systems, that work well in isolation, but fail to deliver a holistic 360° organisational view with a single data source. 

In 2020 transformation, data and insight are your greatest superpower, so invest time in understanding the needs of individual departments, but more importantly in understanding where synergies and shared agendas exist.  


2. Take one step at a time  

Cost, time and organisational disruption are regularly documented as some of the biggest barriers holding organisations back from initiating digital change. One of the most common misconceptions is that digital transformation is one project that aims to deliver every organisational need at the time of go live. Yes, this is more than possible, but this approach comes with extensive planning, a huge project timeline and often a prohibitive cost. It also fails to acknowledge the rapid advances in technology and member needs, which may mean that the project you started with, is no longer fit for purpose at project completion.  

Instead we find that the best outcomes come from projects that consider a long-term delivery roadmap. The starting point is a solution that delivers core organisational features and supports primary business functions and revenue centres. The aim is to build a solid foundation, implemented and delivered to a high quality in phase one, that can support subsequent phases, expanding features and developing infrastructure over time, in response to market and member needs. This approach will help get your technology to market faster and increase your opportunity to generate ROI more quickly.  


3. Closing the skills gap  

Having the right internal skills is a fundamental for successful digital transformation. In order to generate the most value from digital, your teams first need to understand the problems it solves and how to use it effectively. We are increasingly finding that this is best achieved when membership organisations opt to hire or contract a specific digital transformation team, responsible for managing the project, but also helping to close the skills gap across the organisation and empowering every department to get the most from technology.  


4. Investing in Qualitative and Quantitative learning  

Members needs are fast changing, with digital innovation accelerating more quickly than ever before. What engaged your members last year, won’t necessarily still stand today and so building a mindset for continuous qualitative and quantitative learning into your organisation is the key to success now, and in the future.  

As a starting point for your transformation, it’s vital to deliver membership workshops, conduct member interviews, survey your members and use this information to build detailed member personas to form the foundation of your strategy. Every element of your digital proposition should be member led, so take time to understand journeys, pain points and features that matter most. Aside from the research findings themselves, knowing the metrics you need to measure and putting the right tracking in place at the start of your project, will be key to measuring transformation outcomes and supporting continuous change.  


5. Cultural change is as important as technical change  

Whilst technology is a vital part of digital transformation, if it is not used to it’s full potential it can be a wasted investment. Building an internal understanding and providing adequate support and training to take your team on the transformation journey with you, is something that in itself, can be the difference between success and failure.  

No matter how ambitious your delivery road map or how prominent your need for change, do not neglect the extensive training programmes that need to be an integral part of transformation. You can have the best systems in the world, but if your teams are not able to use them to their full potential, they may add limited value.  


6. Joining the Dots  

Achieving a 360° organisational view is a lead agenda for many senior membership executives. The power of digital and data, is that with a few clicks, it can be possible to get a view of the entire organisation, understand issues, capitalise on new opportunities and provide detailed reports to shape the future of the organisation.  

It is important to understand that the concept of digital transformation and technical evolution don’t by default mean a 360° organisational view. In fact, even after extensive transformation programmes, many still fail to achieve a joined-up solution that processes data in the way the organisation needs.  

The only way to achieve a fully integrated solution, is to place extensive focus on data integrity and data quality, to understand the relationship between different solutions and departments and to build a fully integrated end to end, website, portal and CRM, preferably with a single technology stack. Selecting the right technology partner to meet the long-term organisational needs still remains hugely important.  


What happens next?  

2020 is certainly the year that changed everything. Our recommendation is to harness some of the hardest lessons learnt in light of Covid19 and use this as the single biggest opportunity to push digital agendas and to do it properly.  

Digital first strategy is not just about the here and now, it is about harnessing the power of data, insight and technology, to make you more responsive, to make you more agile and to give your organisation the edge in the long- term. 

There are no quick fixes when it comes to digital transformation. Many transformations fail simply for being short sighted and focusing on solving the problem now and not focusing on long-term growth. Even the best technology on the market or the leading development partner won’t solve your problems if it is not underpinned by a considered strategy, with digital and data at its core.  


Need help getting started ? 

On the 9th of September, we are delighted to be involved in a memcom round table discussion all about preparing for change. The aim of this discussion is help membership organisations to prepare for the next phase of the digital transformation agenda.  

This isn’t necessarily about initiating major change programmes now, but discussing approaches that will help you to achieve your goals and start the journey to recovery/growth.  

These sessions will be small intimate discussions, with the aim of maximising value for participants involved. Outputs from the session will be shared with members of the group, which we hope will include practical steps for what next.  

Sign up to join the webinar.  

Speak to the team at Wattle to start have a discussion about your digital journey.