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Who all makes a ‘Digital Transformation Team’ ?

With Technology moving from being just an "enabler" into a "driver" in each business, every organization of some scale has to get on the Digital bandwagon. Transforming the current way from a customer reaching out to the business TO the business reaching out to a customer is absolutely a game changer involving a huge transformation.

Digital Transformation involves moving away from “Customer transaction" to “Customer interaction" approach. For example, enabling customers to buy insurance through social media, engaging millennials through “experience centers” to create insurance awareness, replacing the legacy paper-based insurance policy with electronic policy are all part of the 'Digital Transformation' in the Insurance industry.

To implement such a disruptive change, the team you choose should have the right set of skills to complement each other and requires unwavering support from the executive management. So let us consider the kind of team / staff required and skills required to bring about this change from a Process, technology and enablement perspective.


Process

A team that has not yet embraced continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment will never be able to keep up with the fast pace of changing requirements. The mindset needs to be that of running with the changes rather than complaining about it. They need to be extremely thorough with Agile, BDD (business driven development) and devOps concepts which propagate

  • Individuals and interactions have priority over processes and tools

  • Working software is more important than comprehensive documentation

  • Communication and collaboration with customers takes precedence over contract negotiation

  • Automation and monitoring throughout the development life cycle of scoping, development, testing and deployment

Technology

Moving away from a monolithic architecture where deployment of a change in one application requires you to bring down the complete system to an architecture where applications are very loosely coupled (bound) and hence changes can be independently deployed requires a team very familiar with Microservices, Containers and Serverless technologies.


Furthermore, the team as a whole (if not individually) should not only be aware of Artificial Intelligence ( AI) and Machine Learning (ML) concepts, but be able to apply it in every solution to provide the best experience to the customer


Enablement

The prime and utmost enabler for a transformation of this scale is Executive level buy-in. Depending on the size of the organization, a dedicated executive at the CIO / CTO level called 'Chief Digital Officer (CDO)' or a senior member who can act independently is required to design, drive and implement this transformation.


Typically an existing CIO or CTO handling this initiative will not be effective as nature of the work is different - running current operations versus building a disruptive future state of the organization. Typically CDOs often come from marketing and sales backgrounds who have experienced how digital has disrupted aspects of the industry and are capable of acting as unifying forces between marketing and technology teams.


The team under the CDO should invariably have the following roles

  1. Software development Engineer and tester (SDET) - A programmer who is equally effective in development and testing roles. Having expertise in digital technology, data science and test automation, s/he gets involved in every step of the software development process like designing, development, and testing

  2. Scrum master - Leaders who have typically come from a technical background are required to run "Scrums" which are frequent meetings of the entire team used for discussing the next phase of development, monitor progress and make course corrections

  3. Agile coaches - They are change managers, Agile process consultant and Agile trainer all combined into one.

  4. Product Owner - They have deep expertise in a given business area and are the single person accountable for the product or project that is being developed. They set the vision for the product, chart the path, track progress and ensure that the business value is delivered. They understand how to build omni-channel and omni-digital strategies to drive better relationships with their audience across all points of contact and offer consistent user experience across everything digital regardless of the channel used

  5. Customer experience designer - A combination of a technical expert and domain expert able to work with customers individually. They should be familiar with identifying different needs and experiences of different personas and baking those into requirements. They should also chart customer journeys mapping out each customer or employee's interaction with a product to identify what to amplify, what to turn off and what new ideas might emerge


Based on the nature of the transformation, this team may also need Data Science practitioners viz data engineers, data analysts and data scientists


Each of these roles require different levels of business knowledge, process knowledge and technical knowledge

Conclusion:

As per the quote “Give me a handful of bright people and I will change the world”, the best transformation starts with building the right team. The best processes and tools will follow when you have the best team which can accomplish digital transformation of any scale.


While this article covers the basic and mandatory composition of the transformation team, more roles and additional skill sets will be required depending on the scale and complexity of the transformation.Experts who have been-there and proven themselves can provide the best recommendation based on their study of the initiative


The Author, Girish Nagabhushana, is an Information Technology veteran with about 25 years of Technology Consulting, Service Delivery and Product Development experience working in the USA and India as employee of top Product and Services companies such as MICROSOFT, ACCENTURE, NOKIA, TCS and WIPRO.


Specialized in Worldwide operations, Service delivery, Technology architecture and Product engineering, has played various roles rising from trainee-programmer to country leadership in MNCs (Altisource, Finastra and Sagarsoft).


Proficient in management and technology skills, has built top notch engineering, support teams to develop and support. mission-critical on-premise, SaaS products for Mortgage, Hedge Funds and HRMS Industry as well as executed large System Integration and multi-year maintenance programs for global clients in Retail, BFSI (Banking, Financial Services, Insurance)

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