It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done.
— Terry Pratchett
The first job I landed out of college (nearly twenty years ago) was as a market analyst for the engineering division of a large manufacturer. I was hired by a man called Joe, who was the VP of engineering. He was 67 years old. In the 1990s, there were very few 67 year olds who used a computer with excellence; Joe was no exception. He was far too intelligent and energetic to consider retiring and far too stubborn to adopt technology tools, so he adopted a fresh college graduate instead.
On my first day, he handed me a manila folder stuffed with countless pages of graph paper, upon which he had manually documented all manner of process costs, sales history, competitive pricing references, and other data for every major manufactured part in the company’s arsenal. He had even gone so far as to manually plot out sales and profitability trends in colored pencils.
All the data was stored and documented, by hand. This was an important quarterly effort of performance measurement and process improvement for the company, which consumed roughly one month of Joe’s time each quarter. Because it was manual, it was riddled with inaccuracies and not even close to being real-time. It was my job to “make this better.”
Sixty days later, the graph paper had been replaced by a Lotus spreadsheet containing charts and graphs. The manila folder was retired, and we began using Lotus Notes email to distribute the information. The lion’s share of the data gathering had been automated, and the process that once consumed 160+ hours of time for an executive was reduced to less than 40 hours of time for an entry level analyst. The data was accurate and portable, the analysis efforts became far more thorough and thoughtful, and the VP of engineering was freed up to “engineer” new things. Everyone thought it was magic.
The basic technology tools that were used to achieve this efficiency were not new. The organization had owned this software for years. What they didn’t have was the knowledge and training needed to leverage all the muscle that their tools had. The technical people who knew how to use the software didn’t understand the business needs. The people who understood the operations were oblivious to the untapped potential within the software. They perceived this software as little more than a digital typewriter. The magic that they needed had been there all along. It was just hidden unnecessarily behind a mysterious veil.
This very specific technology deficiency is not likely a scenario your team faces today. However, it is common for organizations to have a vast array of technology platforms with underutilized features and benefits. Similarly, there are as many instances where teams are full of skilled team members who simply are not equipped with all of the tools they need in order to maximize their own output. This is an example of poorly leveraged technology.
Fast-forward to today, solutions that remedied inefficiencies so long ago are obsolete by modern standards. IBM has retired their Lotus platform; the high-powered reporting services and data visualization tools available today put those dated tools to shame. Yet, it’s not uncommon for organizations to utterly max out the useful life of preferred software tools until they simply cease to function. How many organizations are leapfrogged by their peers because they have fallen into a technology trance and are blind to their incomplete technology portfolio?
It’s easy to turn a blind eye to deficiencies when you remain unaware of them. If you don’t know how much better you COULD be, why would you pause to even consider what you’re missing? Most organizations who suffer from technology incompleteness, have addressed some costly digital deficiencies in the last five to ten years and then moved on to other things. If left unmeasured, your technology tools and processes are at risk of cycling out of date quickly. Then you are left holding the proverbial graph paper and colored pencils and wondering why everyone else has a healthier accounting ledger than you do.
In the realm of digital maturity, we refer to this as Technology Completeness and Leverage. As part of our comprehensive Digital Maturity Assessment, this is one of nine dimensions which we quantifiably measure. As part of this assessment, we address several facets of your technology approach to uncover gaps that are impacting your organization’s digital maturity. This assessment includes how well your organization addresses the alignment of your workforce including how well team members’ skills and training match up to the technology tools available to them.
We examine the completeness and status of your software environment and infrastructure and how well these are positively or negatively impacting your ability to be profitable and efficient. We look at your overall technology utilization and your culture. We assess your training methods, your culture’s impact on empowerment around technology, and your interdepartmental collaboration in the context of technology use.
Our online assessment is administered to a cross-section of your team. We often complete a full gap analysis, in which our team follows up the assessment with a deeper dive into critical areas of your organization. This is done by in-person interviews with key stakeholders. We also review documents around processes and your technology portfolio.
This complete analysis allows us to not only score your digital maturity in this area, but also provide remediation guidance to move you forward toward your desired aspirations.
Technology completeness allows an organization to see the big picture and to make smarter decisions that will result in cost reduction and higher productivity. A digitally mature organization has a better sense of itself, its processes, workforce, ecosystem, market, vulnerabilities, assets, and adaptability. When you have quantitative measurements and best practices you can implement improvements that will position you to move beyond your competition.
You can find plenty more about our Digital Maturity Assessment here.