How rapid digital transformation changes the way we do business



You probably know the People, Process, Technology (PPT) framework.

It’s been around since the 1960s. The methodology examines how each of the three PPT elements interact with each other. The goal is to achieve the right balance to optimize ways to do business.

That’s because these three pillars are crucial for work and operations. Without the right people to use technology, your processes suffer. Without the right processes, you won’t get the most from your people or your technology. Without the right technology, your people and processes can’t do their best.

As you can see, it’s a delicate balance between the three. However, when you get it right, you can achieve great things. Particularly with digital transformation, where I’ve known many strategists using the PPT framework.

More recently, though, I’ve seen those strategists have to contend with an additional P added to the PPT. Pandemic. This fourth element came straight in and changed everything. Rapidly.

People Tech Pandemic Process Framework

In terms of measuring how rapid, this McKinsey report estimates: “companies have accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years. And the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios has accelerated by a shocking seven years.”

Usually, businesses would have spent time developing their strategic roadmap for digital transformation. After all, without knowing where to start, those businesses are never going to know where they’re going.

However, time was something unavailable to any of us when pandemic-related lockdowns happened. Then again, when I re-read that McKinsey quote and having been part of a recent SysKit Virtual Talk discussing rapid transformation, I think the lack of time actually helped change the way we do business. Below I share some thoughts on why.

Bridging the digital transformation strategy-execution gap

When did you first start hearing the phrase “digital transformation”? According to Google, it started gaining traction towards the middle of the last decade.

Digital Transformation

Google searches for the phrase “Digital transformation” 2004–2021 

During this time, some companies were undoubtedly succeeding with their roadmaps. However, that wasn’t the case for the majority. McKinsey’s often-quoted figure put the failure rate of programs at 70%.

Of course, it’s hard to measure and quantify a moving target like digital transformation. Especially within a relatively short period of time. Even so, when digging into the reasons for such a high figure, I found some common themes emerging.

Here’s the thing: even though six or seven years is a relatively short time, it’s a lifetime in technology years. At least, it is when it happens over a similar period of time as the Fourth Industrial revolution/ Industry 4.0. As a result, any gaps in time between digital transformation strategy planning and execution are magnified.

As Gartner points out: “Closing the gap between strategy and execution remains a challenge.” In the same report, the analyst also points out this is often down to “insufficient visibility and control, a short-term ‘firefighting’ mentality, and employee change fatigue.”

Deloitte also cites the strategy-execution gap as a characteristic of unsuccessful transformations. They describe this as a “culprit” that’s “usually an obsolete/misaligned operating model.”

However, the pandemic meant businesses didn’t have time for roadmaps spanning three, five, or more years. So this key point for failure didn’t apply. Instead, we saw many successful digital transformations. And what they all had in common was time. Or more accurately, a lack of time.

The relationship between time and transformation is the central theme of the SysKit Virtual Talk: “How rapid digital transformation changes the way we do business.”

I was joined by Sympraxis Consulting’s Marc D. Anderson, Todd Klindt, and Derek Cash-Peterson. We cover many topics, including Microsoft’s rapid roll-out of products to support companies to digitally transform. In the Virtual Talk, Derek talks of this rapidity as an “innovation point”, which was “market-driven by people actively using the platform.”

How rapid changes to working meant rapid digital transformation

Of course, Sympraxis and I (and probably you too), had all already had plenty of experience of having to react and adapt to disruption.

Admittedly this came more from technology and new market entrants. This time around though, the disruptor we faced was the pandemic. And it affected pretty much everyone. IT heads all of a sudden had to somehow find a way to rapidly change the way we do business.

As Marc says in the Virtual Talk, “There was a lot of adjustment. We had clients come to us who were interested in changing the way they work because the pandemic was keeping them from sitting in a conference room together.”

With Microsoft, we had the platform, tools, and a succession of new features to make it happen.

Collaboration & communication

I’m sure you’ve seen – and maybe used – huddle rooms. The small size is great for quick and agile meetings, where you can bounce thoughts around in small groups. A completely different environment to the open-plan office, and often the place to go when you want to find new ideas or ways to do things.

Replicating that online involved platforms such as Teams. It’s also made it easier to have those huddle moments with employees in different regions or time zones. Something that might not have been possible that often in the office.

PowerPoint Live was another feature Microsoft rolled out which had a powerful impact. It meant users had an interactive way to onboard and welcome new employees, conduct walkthroughs, and of course, give great presentations.

Naturally, there were times when these tools wouldn’t work. As Derek says, this “was very challenging”. Derek also mentions the fact that many schools were closed, which caused parents even more working-from-home challenges.

Although Microsoft couldn’t do much about random incidents like the above, Derek points out that “Teams did this really great leap and they added so many new features than now you can really have all these powerful meetings.”

Behavioral change & SharePoint’s impact

For an example of how business has changed rapidly, look no further than SharePoint.

Lockdown means the whole “anytime, anywhere” concept of working suddenly applied to millions of workers. People weren’t going to the office to get files, but that was ok because they could access what they needed on SharePoint. Derek covers this in the Virtual Talk, highlighting that “one of the key reasons for business continuity was this new approach of architecture.”

While the architecture was new, some of the required behaviors from people didn’t need to be. The seeds for cultural change had been already sown years before. Because of the cloud.

Rapid transformation: Right time, right place

Business transformation wasn’t just about rapid timing.

It’s also about the right timing – of cloud computing. After all, most people were used to doing business without a desktop. Even if it was something as basic as using email while on the move.

Of course, the average person doesn’t describe their webmail service as SaaS. However, these sorts of mass-market innovations helped to make transformation less of a jump it might have been. As Marc says in the Virtual Talk, “If this has happened 10–15 years ago we would not have been able to cope as well.”

What’s next: More rapid transformation

While the rapid transformation meant ways of working have changed forever, it’s been interesting to see that many companies have changed forever too. In terms of their technology stack, workplace culture, and experience for customers, users, and stakeholders.

A recent example is Price Waterhouse Coopers, which recently told their 40,000 US client services employees they could “work virtually and live anywhere they want in perpetuity.” Another company to go down the “virtual” route is Dropbox. They announced they’d become a “Virtual First” company, with remote work to be the “primary experience for all employees and the day-to-day default for individual work.”

Opportunities & advantages for transformed businesses

We can see more companies are digital-first. They have more cloud-based tools at their disposal. Rapid digital transformation is more of an operating systems upgrade, rather than a patch.

We can find new opportunities, better ways of working, and expand and develop experiences – for our customers and users. Some of these “quick win” areas include:

  • Business continuity
    With the right systems in place, backup and disaster recovery, for example, they can also be more resilient and able to maintain business continuity.
  • Employee satisfaction
    The improvements mentioned above in SharePoint and Teams have foster the attitude that work is a thing people do, rather than where they go. This fits in with what Derek says in the Virtual Talk: “It’s not the hours that you’re physically present – it’s the work that you get done in that time.”
  • Platformication
    While face-to-face contact remains a crucial part of networking, pivoting to online has also been successful. Online webinars were already established, but with Teams it’s now possible to have thousands of attendees, opening up possibilities for multi-national organizations to hold town halls and virtual events on a scale that simply wasn’t possible before.

Of course, just like the PPT (or PPPT) framework, we need to strike a balance. Shadow IT is still a risk, so this will need resolving with careful balance between agility and security. This leads me to my final point…

Security to maintain digital transformation momentum

We all know the sudden rise in remote workers has meant a sudden rise in threat vectors. For example, in SharePoint there are multiple ways of sharing files, so risks are also multiplied. We haven’t even gotten onto the subject of GDPR, MiFID II, and various other laws and regulations around the world.

Organizations need secure solutions to maintain the rapid transformation. As Marc says in the Virtual Talk, “The nice thing about going to Microsoft 365 in a migration is that it should be the last one you ever do unless you leave the platform.”

SysKit Point is a way to keep the rapid transformation going. You’ll find features specifically designed to support organizations in the shift to new ways of working. Giving you the protection that goes beyond the perimeter. Built for today’s reality, where it’s “when” and not “if” you get attacked.

For example, if you’ve implemented Teams into Microsoft 365, SysKit Point tells you when new teams are created. You can quickly add and remove guests, members, and owners, either individually or in bulk.

SysKit Point tracks sharing activity down to file level. You get audit reports that cover every configuration change, giving you full transparency over your environment.

There are provisioning features. You can use these to control who can create Office 365 workspaces, and under what conditions.

You can also have SysKit automate your Office 365 governance workflows. Periodic access reviews, lifecycle management, enforcing policies. SysKit does the alerts, and gives you the results through progress reports.

Explore SysKit Point and see how it can help you change the way you do business.

Hey there! I’m Toni, the Co-Founder and CEO of Syskit, creators of Syskit Point and SPDocKit. Welcome to Toni on Tech, where we explore the ever-evolving world of software, technology, and business.