The Digital Trough

The hottest thing out there is digital, and a lot of projects are being spun up in an attempt to start moving companies into digital. The problem is that many of these initiatives quickly lose momentum, then lose funding, and end up with less work for the service providers than they anticipated. Hence, the term “digital trough.” So what is a service provider to do?

First of all, it’s crucial to recognize the customer’s need. Digital is not just about technology; it’s about changing the fundamental business to be digital. If you’re a service provider wanting to avoid the digital trough or seeking a way through the trough you’re in, you must ensure the customer actually gets value from your services in moving a customer’s business into digital.

Five key steps to ensure value

  1. Don’t frame the project as a technology challenge. It’s a business challenge and must be defined as such. This will help ensure the customer invests and provides funding to drive it.
  1. Manage the change. It’s necessary to manage the change across the business capabilities, not just the technical departments. This also enlarges the scope.
  1. Use effective metrics. When you frame the change across business capabilities, you need to build a different sort of metrics. In this perspective, the metrics are no longer around technology and tech implementation. Instead, metrics need to focus on business impact such as customer experience, completeness, ease of use and cycle time (on time and in full). You need to define metrics from the end user perspective.
  1. New service delivery talent. To deliver effective services in the digital journey requires change in your provider organization, not just the customer’s organization. You need consulting skills to help lead the change in the customer’s business departments, not just the technical department. You also need more industry knowledge as well as different technical skills and digital knowledge.
  1. New service delivery mindset. The other aspect of delivering effective digital services is recognizing that digital depends on an ecosystem. You can’t expect to be the sole provider in that ecosystem. This is a fundamental difference in attitude, as many service providers do not play well with others. You need to change that orientation in your company to collaborate with other providers rather than be cannibalistic to others.

These five aspects involve significant change, but they address the nature of the digital services challenge and will help your company move beyond the digital trough to provide the value your customers expect.

This topic will be the focus of the session, Beware the Digital Trough!, that I’m leading this week at the NASSCOM India Leadership Forum. If you are there, please find me to discuss overcoming the challenges associated with making digital initiatives successful in detail. .