The fastest growing market in the African consulting sector is now Digital Transformation. This includes amalgam of many things including pure digitization of processes, integrating digital tools in marketing, and preparing data for the AI future. Yet, where you can command more respect and add the greatest values (which means close deals faster) is figuring out how your frameworks, or other people’s frameworks modified by you, can help Boards and Executive Management find growths. Those frameworks are the key elements of Digital Transformation, and are the most impactful of all services.
If you run a consulting practice, the most important phase in any engagement is understanding the customer. If you miss that element, you would struggle all through the engagement. To understand a customer, you have to approach everything with a learning spirit irrespective of what you think you are. The fact is this: the customer understands and knows his business more than you.
In my practice, drawing from one of my Harvard Business Review articles, I try to help clients figure out how to embrace the ICT utilities like Facebook and Google over seeing them as enemies, and from there architect growth models to unlock new markets and territories. In the consumer business, digital business development that does not look at these ICT utilities may not be optimal because Facebook is a business continent, and Google is another, even though your Geography class may not list them as among the planets!
Always remember that being #1 in a dying industry is an existential threat even though you are #1. So, in a sector, if a company is #1 but not growing and other competitors are exiting, there is nothing to smile about. You are not out-competing them. Rather, they are exiting because the sector is shrinking. If you do not have the antenna to see the trajectory, you will be in trouble very soon.
Our model is to use indicators to figure out how change happens. Yes, most times, it is technology that is transforming sectors, triggering structural dislocations, and shifting values to new class of entities. For example, as Facebook and Google dominate, media companies struggle. So, to help media entities, you must understand that competition within traditional peers is not the challenge anymore: you have to see the flanks to come up with a winning strategy.
Digital transformation is a major shift and it is where the money is right now. Do not focus on the operational aspect – see the strategic phase where you come up with roadmaps to enable CHANGE.
The appropriate way to understand the phrase could be ‘digital TRANSFORMATION’, the transformation is the real deal, the digital is just the enabler.
It largely requires a mind shift, not really about digitizing processes and operations, and most times wasting money on unusable technologies.
So for any digital transformation to make some substantial impact, it must be approached from the strategic level, not tactical/operational, the latter has very little to do with senior management, who ordinarily must lead the transformation journey. Communication is key, especially for organisations with identifiable culture.
Driving the change is never straightforward, because getting the workforce to change from what used to work or how they have always done things, is never easy; you must be able to convince them that the new way is the right way.