How to transform towards the Digital Revolution

Thought Leadership

Michelle Gomes | Joe Russell


For many, digital is known as the fourth revolution. The world is at our very fingertips.

Over the past 20 years, digital innovation has transformed the way everyone interacts in their social environment. Be it shopping, banking, automobiles, education, travel, health… Businesses over time have learned to embrace digital transformations in a bid to remain competitive and adapt to the ever-changing landscape.

Whilst we must focus on our digital transformations efforts and agree this is a topic which needs our undivided attention, we must also respect that this is a complex challenge, one often misunderstood or poorly defined.

Therefore, let us first define what a digital transformation truly means before we provide insight into how we have overcome these challenges with our clients. As Jeff Bezos once quoted “In today’s era of volatility, there is no other way but to re-invent. The only sustainable advantage you can have over others is agility, that’s it”.

Digital transformation and Operational Excellence – the perfect match? 

Before we delve into the complexities and challenges of digital transformation, we first need to take a step back.

Digital transformation has always had a broad scope which can make it very complex to grasp. So, it is important to first align on the different definitions and then demonstrate the synergies between operational excellence and digital transformations (DigiOps) and how to turn digital challenges into opportunities. 

    • Digital transformation

Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new or modify existing, business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. It requires a much broader organisation-wide adoption of digital technology, cultural change, and business innovation. Simply put, digital transformation is the continuous reimagination of your business in the digital age.

In the context of digital transformations within the Financial Sector, this translates through to creating offerings for internal as well as external use. E.g. banks wishing to operate online only, implementing platform strategies for insurers, setting up intelligent automation centre of excellence and delivering trading platforms for investment banking, bringing idea-to-scale of new disruptive innovations (KYC utilities) to enhance customer experience during account opening and customer due diligence processes.

    • Operational Excellence

Operational excellence goes hand in hand with digital transformation as it accelerates the execution of the business strategy more consistently and reliably than the competition, with lower operational risk, lower operating costs, and increased revenues. 

What this means in practice is that you need to take a holistic view of your business and apply a variety of tools and techniques to identify and remove inefficiencies throughout your value stream. This should provide a clear and pragmatic pathway in which you can execute. Also keep in mind that Operational excellence is not an end goal, it’s a continuous cycle and way of working. 

Alternatively, you may view digital transformation as holding more of a stance from the outside-in, looking from a customer perspective to deliver new products leveraging digitalisation. While operational excellence focuses more on inside-out, looking at the underlying processes for efficiencies and improving quality. Their unity creates a powerful force for change.

Common challenges organisations face during their digital transformation

Being a core part of digital transformation from its inception in the 1990s to what it has become today, we have seen and overcome many key challenges and can draw common analogies:

    • Approaching digitalisation without first optimising core operational value streams may lead to focussing your transformation efforts incorrectly
    • In-house teams may not have the experience, agile mindset, or incentive to achieve digital transformation
    • Low-Code and No-code ways of working are on the horizon, meaning organisations must change their ways of working and digital workforce to remain competitive
    • Organisations could lack the necessary digital talent or training to enhance skills internally
    • Technology platforms are not scalable and legacy services could potentially slow down digital transformation
    • Traditional communication channels remain, despite going digital/agile
    • Organisations need relevant and up-to-date digital trends and technologies to prioritise long term objectives and move the needle past incremental innovation

Now that you know the challenges, it’s time to start

Having encountered these challenges multiple times, we have a well-established and multifaceted approach to digital transformation. Below we highlight some of the key themes we typically tackle and provide an insight into how we best approach them.

    • Digital strategy & plan

It begins with an honest recognition or digital maturity assessment of where your organisation is right now. Then, we help formulate a digital transformation strategy to where you want-to-be. This assessment touches upon various levers including customer experience, strategy & leadership, culture & people, organisational setup, technology, data, sales & marketing and cybersecurity.

Once you have this assessment, a common organisation-wide digital vision and mission statement is agreed upon. This needs to align the C-suite management team on the strategic direction along with a high-level plan. We can’t stress it enough, senior management buy-in is key to driving transformations. We close this activity with ensuring that all goals and metrics provide the digital vision, and this in an efficient and lean manner. 

    • Workforce, ways of working and mindset

Agility is not only in the process, but also in the mindset. You need to keep on training and leveraging your knowledge of Agility, Lean and DevOps implementations as they each bring a different angle to the table. We find the winning formula to enable your digital strategy to be creating minimal viable products which use finely tuned DevOps platforms united with high trust cultures. As part of the maturity assessment, you need to review all sections and identify how to best proceed based on your landscape.

Leadership teams should also be trained and coached to embrace Agile thinking, especially around new communication strategies, tracking objectives, and embracing a fail-fast and data-driven mentality. With the absence of true digital leadership, who are championing the right cultures, it is difficult to be truly successful in your digital transformation efforts.

    • Technology and data transformation

You need to analyse the underlying technology platforms, business processes and legacy dynamics to understand your current bottlenecks and value streams. Then, you can optimise and automate value-based processes using intelligent automation techniques such as RPA and artificial intelligence.

Combining this two-pronged approach means you are not only looking at digitalising your business, but also ensuring you do so in an operationally efficient way. Build-buy strategies are supported by providing access to various fintech start-ups that can help speed-up building of products and services.

And don’t forget about data maturity. We always align all stakeholders on data governance, lineage, protection, quality, and IT controls. It helps tap into connected data and give back to the organisation the golden source of insights they require to make the right decisions at the right time, whilst adhering to data privacy and cybersecurity fundamentals.

    • Digital talent

Digital talent is a core area you must address within your organisation to remain competitive. This means constantly looking to scout new talent along with creating a sustainable growth path and creating ways in which to retain and further nurture your teams. Experience in low code is a must, we truly believe by 2025 this will be the new norm for all organisations, and you must therefore look to mitigate this to remain competitive.

    • Customer centricity

Going digital means being where the customers are and giving them a seamless digital experience across all the channels and services they interact with. This translates into all departments (sales, marketing, finance, …) having the business agility to quickly detect opportunities and provide the relevant offerings in the shortest and most operationally efficient manner. We’ve identified that by approaching initiatives tactically and strategically, you optimise the operational model and pave the way to towards delivering faster go-to-market innovative ideas.

    • Cybersecurity

Several online studies suggest human error is the main cause of 90-95% of cybersecurity breaches. We believe cybersecurity is one of those value streams which requires significant attention. It needs its own thought leadership to truly do this area justice. Keep a lookout for follow on posts in this area.

Let’s turn these digital challenges into opportunities

We have many years of experience in driving innovation and change within financial services all over Europe. And we truly believe that the best outcomes are unleashed when organisations combine operational excellence with digital transformation. Where operational excellence will look to increase flow and reduce defects, digital transformation will look to uncover new business value whilst creating a digital favourable environment that the organisation and its employees can easily thrive in and contribute towards.

The time to act is now. Be part of the digital revolution and realise meaningful change to your business.


Partnership possibilities

Like most digital transformations, community or organisation support is elemental. Apart from our expertise and practical “been there, done that” approach, ::projective offers a unique ecosystem of partners that act as a catalyst for change. Our ecosystem provides organisations easy access to technologies helping build and accelerate their go-to-market product and service offerings. We can provide a truly unique digital talent offering that can be absorbed, nurtured, and help advocate for future talent acquisition. We offer venture building and investment options; we indeed put our skin in the game.

Some examples

In conclusion, our in-the-field expertise, access to our various ecosystem partners and our experienced yet pragmatic consultancy arm means we can help your business build their business to last. We provide you with a richer digital offering that outpaces the competition. The approach is a finely tuned balancing act, requiring the change to people, process, and technology. When conducted correctly, it leads to reduced cost of maintenance, increased process effectiveness, greater employee satisfaction, all while providing leading-edge digital offerings in a bid for relentless customer-centricity.