Quebec: Who cares how tech works, just focus on what needs solving

Successful digital transformation brings forth innovation that makes your business more agile.

What do you think about these statements?

  • “Digital transformation is our plan for what technology we’re investing in this year.”
  • “The more technology we buy, the better our digital transformation will be.”
  • “Delivering digital transformation is down to the CIO and IT team.”

Two things spring to mind for me. Firstly, these statements are untrue, of course they are. Secondly, more worrying, these are real sentiments that I have heard a number of times in the last few months from a number of different business leaders.

Now, I’m lucky enough to work with some brilliant people—the forward-thinking executives making the workplace better. I also get to meet C-level execs who are struggling to grasp the real meaning of digital transformation. I put them in the group who are failing to understand the specific needs of their markets and industries, so they’re losing ground on their competitors.

I mean, grappling with those logistical horrors in the early days of the pandemic was one thing. But a year on, leaders need to stop reacting to the environment and start seizing the moment. Digital investment isn’t about ROI on technology; it’s about ROI on the innovation it yields.

It’s time to wake up

True transformation is about understanding the problems that need fixing and finding new ways to solve them. It’s about making your business more agile, putting humans at the heart of the solution and building an environment that helps them to become more efficient and engaged, making better decisions with time to be more creative. Take, for example, the large multinational organization that seized the lockdown opportunity and remote working to empower and enable teams to self-form around solving the new challenges of productivity. The ultimate decision was centralised, but the collaboration and brainstorming of these teams enabled them to design a solution with an outcome far more empathetic to the real needs of the end users and customers, likely one that traditionally would not have been considered.

True transformation is about understanding the problems that need fixing and finding new ways to solve them.

It’s about finding quicker ways of engaging with your customers: giving them better and bigger experiences, and removing the bottlenecks from your ecosystem that are keeping your supply chain from connecting. Another similar global organisation decided on a fresh thinking approach to managing their supply chain by bringing their suppliers into the conversation, early and often. Understanding their unique challenges and pressures, the ability to deliver what were once abundant resources overnight had dried up or become much harder to provide. The goal or common outcome was established, and then new creative ways based on demand, not desire, came to light and delivered a result which all have agreed is the new way of working, making their relationship far more two-way and strategic.

And if it’s not, I’m left scratching my head figuring out how you’re planning to stay in business beyond the next few years: You’re allowing workplace change to run faster than your ambition.

Pivot your digital transformation to focus on what needs solving

On 11 March 2021, we unveiled the Now Platform® Quebec release. It’s our latest update, and I believe it’s the difference between those enterprises wanting to innovate quickly, be more agile, and operate more productively (no matter what Covid throws at us next) and those CXOs who still think digital transformation is about building an audit for what technology they should be buying this year.

And for me, I think there are five big game-changers in this new release. Imagine if you would be able to:

1). Make work less complicated

The Application Engine Studio (AES) is a landmark on the journey to truly enable the no-code/low-code movement: It’s about creating meaningful applications easily without a steep technical learning curve. Using familiar actions like drag and drop, the interface works as you’d expect it to do so. One example: Instead of using spreadsheets for tracking work, use that data source, create a new app in the platform, then display the same data and manage it, instantly. Imagine all of the manual processes that are slowing down work right now, and how you can build an app for them without needing complicated programmes behind it. This is a big step in enabling the democratisation of innovation and app creation across the enterprise.

2). Get rid of broken processes

Organisations spend large amounts of time defining processes, but do we actually go back and measure them for efficiency and not just the ROI a project promised? The capability of our new Process Optimisation allows you to measure and capture how work is actually flowing, or not, through the process. It helps you understand where the bottlenecks might be, or critical decision points, and provides the insights on how to make it better using continual improvement. Processes need constant care and feeding, more than ever now that we rely on technology to connect us, instead of walking across the office to ask a question.

3). Get work done faster

Using AI Search lets me search and find what I want based on how I want to search, using the phrases/words/terms I am used to without being limited by how IT has named a request item, or a knowledge article, or “you call it Outlook, I call it email.” Let me get what I need quickly and easily using natural and conversational language. The new search capability works, as it should, in browser and mobile and chatbots in the same way, so let’s meet the user where they want to work, not where IT mandates.

4). Make work more efficient

Universal Request gives your business a one-stop shop: I want “stuff” and I don’t need to think about who or where a request for help/information should go, or which department. The platform should be smart enough to understand and route the work accordingly. Better yet, provide me first the self-help answers, and if not the right answers, put the task to the teams and agents who can help me. It’s a single view of where my request is, when I can expect more updates, or where I can go to answer questions to help clarify or provide further information. Universal Request sits above and beyond all the departmental silos that might exist.

5). Make teams more productive

Finally, easily and quickly surface the data and insights you want by simply constructing a sentence with the Natural Language Query. No longer are we constrained by Report Writing resources or the fear of a runaway query impacting performance. Let the machines do the work for you. If you can describe what you want, then let us provide that data in a suitable report format or dashboard in simple and easy steps. Even better, let me save it or share it, and show me how the report was constructed and the query to produce the results. I can then tweak and twist as needed to get more granular details.

A final thought

According to IDC, worldwide digital transformation spend will total more than $6.8 trillion by 2023. That’s a staggering amount of money. But how much of that will be wasted if we’re too focused on the how (the tech we’re buying) and less worried about the why (the problems we’re trying to solve)?

For me, and based on the success stories I’m seeing in the workplace, true digital transformation is finding the simplest ways to solve the biggest challenges. I am, genuinely, passionate about the Quebec release—it’s an incentive for any enterprise looking to pivot their transformation.

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