92% of executives say successful digital transformation requires a dual-track approach

A solid strategy combines innovation at the enterprise- and business-process levels, Harvard Business Review Analytical Services and Quick Base found.

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The majority of global business leaders (92%) said that successful digital transformation requires a dual-track approach, according to a report from Harvard Business Review Analytical Services and Quick Base. The report, released on Wednesday, found that such a strategy combines innovation at both the enterprise- and business-process levels.  

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"The pace and scale of innovation now is like nothing we've ever seen before—businesses need to move even faster and drive operational agility in order to adapt and prepare for basically anything," said Ed Jennings, CEO of Quick Base, which provides a low-code platform, in a press release

"But despite existing large-scale digital transformation efforts, siloed data, onerous processes, and rigid systems are holding people on the front lines back," Jennings said. "The findings of this report were super clear: Companies need to expand on conventional approaches in order to empower their employees to solve problems and reach their full potential."

Even though a significant amount of effort is typically put into tech implementations, that doesn't  mean their plans are sufficient. Less than a quarter (22%) of executives rated their transformation strategies as "very effective," the report found. 

Some 80% of respondents "strongly agree" that a dual-track approach is essential, but 69% said they haven't implemented that type of strategy. 

To help organizations get started with a dual-track approach, the report outlined what this type of strategy actually looks like. 

The dual-track approach 

1. An enterprise-wide orientation 

This first part of the dual-track approach focuses on the identification and implementation of new digital tech throughout an organization, while also working to change cultures and business workflows impacted by the transformation, according to the report. 

While this step is critical, it is also complex and time consuming. The benefits may take time to come to fruition, which is why many executives are dissatisfied with current transformation results. Not only are executives impatient, but they don't have the second part of the dual-track to get them by, the report found. 

2. Rapid-cycle innovation

The second portion is a parallel track that hones in on areas overlooked in large-scale transformation tactics. These areas include the organization's ability to quickly connect and modernize hundreds of crucial processes that cross both business workflows and work groups, according to the report.

This  goal can be  achieved through rapid-cycle innovation, which encourages business professionals outside of IT to propose and create new apps for updating existing workflow processes, with the goal of achieving quick wins for the company and supporting long-term transformation, the report found.  

Nearly half (48%) of executives surveyed said that distributed innovation is important for expediting responses to competitive pressure.  

To pursue a dual-track approach that guarantees long-term success, however, businesses have a tool that can fulfill that promise, according to the report.  

Importance of low-code tech 

Cloud-based low-code tech is the key to a successful dual-track transformation, according to the report. This tech allows professionals to create their own apps and services outside of IT. 

More than half (52%) of respondents said the primary benefit of low-code platforms was that they encourage business leaders to be more present in innovation and idea generation, which is a primary motivator in rapid-cycle innovation, according to the report. 

Speed is another critical factor: Some 44% of leaders  said a top benefit of low-code is facilitating faster delivery of business apps in organizations, compared to traditional development processes. This priority could grow as executives consider how COVID-19 puts a greater premium on flexibility and the ability to respond quicker to widespread disruptions, the report found. 
 
Respondents recognized the importance of low-code tools, but concerns around security and compliance were present. More than half of executives said they fear shadow IT apps created  outside of IT will not meet necessary requirements.

Once those concerns are addressed and security is built from Day 1, dual-track transformation can provide major benefits to companies, according to the report. 

For more, check out Salesforce sees low-code as a key way to drive digital transformation in a new normal of remote work on TechRepublic. 
  

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