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Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Emergn.
In today’s ever-changing markets, business leaders understand the benefits of digital transformation. In fact, a PwC study found that 60% of executives worldwide believe enterprise digital transformation is a critical growth driver, whether that growth goal involves improving customer experience, productivity, products or services. However, a business transformation of any kind can be a strenuous lift for a company, especially when most businesses have little to no internal transformation capability.
It’s one of the many reasons organizations seek help from outside consulting partners. In fact, 88% of businesses use third-party providers for at least one component of their digital transformation. While leading businesses around the world have recognized for decades that consultants can be an incredibly effective way to remain competitive, I do not believe the adage “nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM” translates to digital transformation partnerships. The fact of the matter is that while the global consulting industry continues to grow (with an expected estimated value of $525.57 billion by 2027), the market for experienced digital transformation consultants is scarce. With countless consulting firms to choose from, it is critical for businesses to avoid a partnership with a vendor that lacks digital transformation expertise.
Identifying An Inexperienced Digital Transformation Consultant
To spot inexperienced digital transformation consultants, you must look beyond industry buzzwords and go deeper to uncover the real value they offer your organization. What types of expertise do they have on staff? What experience do they have in your sector? What experience do they have taking an organization through a change or transformation program? What processes and client management processes do they have in place?
If they can’t answer those questions well and instead try to put decision makers at ease by making the complexities of digital transformation appear easily digestible, they are probably not the right fit. The right transformation consultants will take into account a company’s distinctive business processes—how they manage customers, employees, business operations, etc.—in order to uncover where and how digital intervention can improve business outcomes.
Ready-made methodologies and recommendations also usually oversimplify digital transformation solutions and create an inaccurate reflection of the effort and time needed to complete certain projects successfully. Further, these undefined, broad strategies cannot address the specific needs of an organization, leading to one of two outcomes.
• An under-addressed digital transformation strategy that leads to a less productive and not fully optimized digital business operation.
• An over-addressed digital transformation strategy that requires drawn-out or never-ending consultation that can quickly evaporate a company’s budget.
In either case, hiring the wrong digital transformation consultant can adversely affect a business’s productivity and bottom line and lead a company’s hiring manager to the unemployment line.
Hiring The Right Digital Transformation Consultant
When hiring a consulting group for digital transformation, to find a true transformation partner invested in your organization’s success, business leaders should look for a consultant that takes a personalized approach, aligns objectives with business goals and has an exit strategy.
Every company’s operation is unique and requires an equally unique digital transformation plan. That is why finding a vendor that does not push simple, one-size-fits-all transformation strategies is essential. Instead, look for consultants that take a personal inside-out approach. A robust digital transformation strategy should start with a structured analysis of an organization’s situation that includes data on current operations, past experiences with implementing change and work culture. A well-rounded analysis will also consider a company’s employees, understanding their knowledge of innovative tools and processes and ensuring they are on the same page with the digital transformation plan.
A formidable consulting team should also work with business leaders to clearly define the business outcomes they hope to achieve for their customers. This, in turn, will help the company and its partners better understand the problems they are trying to solve and help to align objectives with business goals and customer outcomes. For example, suppose a company’s goal is to provide quicker customer service. In that case, an aligned objective could be to implement CRM software or automated tools like chatbots for customer support operations.
Finally, a digital transformation consultant truly invested in a company’s long-term success, more times than not, will introduce an exit strategy. While a complete digital transformation can be complex and ever-evolving, the right consulting partner will create a plan that, over time, teaches a business the skills to not only sustain but implement positive change to its digital operations on its own. That is why it is imperative to seek out digital transformation consultants that focus on empowering employees by teaching them agile methodologies and forward-thinking through knowledge-based learning.
While the digital transformation consultant pool is not necessarily deep, business leaders who know what to look for will have the most success finding a partner focused on their company’s continued success. And by noticing the warning signs of an inexperienced digital transformation vendor, decision makers can avoid unnecessary costs or the potential for an unsuccessful digital transformation.
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