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OP-ED: Digital Transformation Should be Driven by Purpose, Not Just by Technology

Digital transformation is inevitable for the organization wanting to thrive in the modern market, but it should be driven by purpose, not just by technology.

According to McKinsey, digital transformation in 2023 is the rewiring of the organization. It is the ability to ceaselessly generate value through the deployment of relevant technologies at scale while enhancing the customer experience and reducing overall company costs. It is the competitive edge and the route to sustainable business survival, but it has also, for many companies, been lost in the technology.

For companies to embed long-term success, they need to step away from the model of deploying technology for the sake of deploying technology and instead focus on the purpose of digital transformation as a whole.

Mandla Mbonambi, CEO of Africonology, believes that this means organizations should unpack the why of their digital investments — the strategies and business goals that are driving this change — and the how — what big picture scenario is the business working towards?

“When the business understands what goals, strategies, and objectives, both long and short term, are to be met with digital tools and technologies, the transformation will shift from a knee-jerk implementation of the latest solution to a steadier approach that will minimize risk while maximizing sustainability,” Mbonambi explains.

He says there are questions you need to ask when approaching digital transformation as a purpose-driven strategy.

Is it going to further drive efficiency and business value?

The primary purpose of digital transformation is to be the oil in the cogs that ensure the organization operates with efficiency. These should be the most significant benefit of a well-managed digital transformation implementation — efficiency, and productivity gains that consistently translate back into cost-savings and improved customer service.

Will it allow for an even more strategic use of your data?

The one area of technology innovation that’s constantly evolving and changing is data and analytics, especially as artificial intelligence (AI) gains traction. Emerging innovations within this space can help your organization fundamentally redefine how it engages with, and stores, its data, but this needs to be balanced against existing infrastructure and how your current technology helps you understand your customers and markets.

Will it enhance employee engagement and productivity?

Employees are the ultimate technology litmus test. Poorly managed implementation and training invariably result in poor performance, limited uptake, and an expensive waste of tech. Well-managed and implemented in line with actual employee needs and expectations, technology can reduce stress, improve performance, enhance engagement, and reshape how an organization drives innovation from within.

Is it relevant?

Emergent technologies that promise the extraordinary are arriving at an unprecedented pace which can make it challenging for the organisation to determine its value over the long term. The risk here is that you could end up with a solution that has all the promises but none of the delivery because it doesn’t quite fit within your current digital transformation strategy. This is why it’s key to hold strategy at the forefront of technology decision-making as this will ensure investment into emergent technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation are relevant to your unique business situation.

“Digital transformation with purpose isn’t about shutting the new and the shiny out of the organization but rather about ensuring that every step taken towards technology is focused on a clear end goal,” Mbonambi concludes. “This will refine decision-making and investment and it will hold the business on a steady transformation path without compromising on performance and value.”



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