The pandemic has turned virtually everybody’s lives upside down and this has had the effect of focussing people’s minds, on priorities in their personal life, work and even their whole relationship with work. I had my own ‘COVID moment’ contracting the virus in December 2020, but count myself lucky as my symptoms were very minor. But the whole pandemic experience has left me focussing more and more on things that matter and everything else, well, let’s just say it doesn’t get much attention!
I’m not alone. Recently I’ve been part of a series of on-line discussions with CEOs of IT companies; focused mainly on the financial services sector in the UK, Europe and the US. We’ve shared war stories from the pandemic, strategies for survival and predictions on how the market is changing during the recovery phase.
The consensus is clear. The pandemic was a real shock to most people and companies and the lessons learnt are now at the heart of investment initiatives. The state of companies’ balance sheets appear to be very mixed – some have barely survived and others are sitting on substantial cash reserves. Most are looking at how to make their businesses more resilient, competitive and online. Those who are advanced in their digital transformations feel they have a significant competitive edge over their slower competitors. They have lower costs, and greater business agility – enabled by better technology with minimal legacy. For them, the impact from the pandemic has been minor and they are well positioned for the upturn.
The worry for those who haven’t made the leap is that they’re seeing their competitors pull ahead, but fear that their own digital transformation will require significant investment in time, budget and specialist expertise. All at a time when many of these companies are cash-strapped and are flat out trying to survive.
Those companies that are winning are:
- Online, able to operate many (if not all) business processes through digital channels
- Agile in adapting to new market conditions, improving incrementally and rapidly, bringing new unique products to market faster and more often.
- Responsive – with business processes previously taking days, now taking hours or minutes, using automation and uniquely-tailored IT system.
- Efficient, with IT that’s more agile, faster and higher quality, but at a low cost of ownership.
- Not trying to do everything themselves, but keeping their people and resources laser-focused on what differentiates them, and simply buying in the enabling technology that’s needed.
How to speed up your digital transformation:
- Get some expertise through the door to help get your initiatives kick started or better focused.
- Focus on what makes you unique.
- Replace legacy. With the latest technology, tools and techniques, it’s cheaper to replace than maintain.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel – if it’s not unique/differentiating and someone else can already do it well, buy in or outsource. Resist the temptation to let internal IT build things they don’t have the experience or bandwidth to do, when an experienced, external team can deliver a wholly bespoke solution better, faster and cheaper.
- Ensure internal IT are equipped to be able to select and manage bought in and outsourced products and services.
And finally …….
Choose your advisors and outsourcing partners very carefully!. Having worked on and led award-winning IT projects from a few thousand pounds to well over a billion, I’ve learnt how to spot an impending disaster a mile away. So here’s my three basic principles for partner selection:
- Big is very rarely better, that goes for suppliers and projects!
- Judge value for money on outcomes not day rates, cheap usually takes much longer
- Take care not to be a supplier’s latest failure; validate their reputation for success, don’t be side-tracked by an impressive list of clients or attractive price
If you’d like to learn more, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn here.