Striking a balance in a digital world

Doug Bannister, Founder & CTO
December 13, 2018
hand with tablet

How a focus on innovation and operational excellence drive business results

Earlier this year, I had the great privilege of attending the CIO Perspectives conference and participate in the Publisher’s Panel alongside executives from OpenText, ePlus and IDG Events. The topic of the day was business innovation and operational excellence, and as part of the conversation, we addressed some key findings from the 2018 State of the CIO Report

Of particular interest to me was the fact that while 88 per cent of CIOs say their role is becoming more focused on digital and innovation, nearly three quarters of respondents find it difficult to strike the balance between business innovation and operational excellence. Taken at face value, this presents a significant challenge for CIOs and other leaders, as digital transformation is becoming increasingly crucial to businesses’ ability to thrive.

However, operational excellence and business innovation are not either-or scenarios. In a recent blog post, I discussed the concept of digital maturity, which refers to a company’s ability to use new tools and strategies to adapt to a digital environment that is constantly evolving. Ultimately, digital maturity and best-in-class operations go hand in hand: for a business to maintain operational excellence, it must embrace the digital landscape and use innovation to maximize its efficiency, gain a competitive advantage and increase its bottom line. At Omnivex, we offer a free Digital Assessment Tool, which allows companies to assess their digital maturity and use the findings to inform their digital transformation strategies.

It’s important to note that operational excellence, purpose-driven innovation and successful digital transformation are tied together by effective communication. Muddled messages and tired delivery methods not only limit the potential for a symbiotic relationship between digital innovation and business excellence, but they can also have a negative impact on employee engagement, productivity and company results.

What’s more, effective communication starts from the top, and it is up to the entire C-suite (including CIOs) to develop a comprehensive leadership strategy that fosters an environment in which the right information is shared with right people at the right time on the right device. Tools like digital signs are a benefit to companies that want to communicate in a meaningful and relevant way, but on a higher level, leaders must first ensure that effective communication is baked into the company’s overarching strategy and is utilized up, down and across the organization.

Dovetailing from effective communication is company-wide buy-in, which is the most crucial piece of any organization’s digital transformation. CIOs, in collaboration with other leaders, must secure alignment and engagement from all levels and departments in order for change to be successful. If employees do not buy what the C-suite is selling, the risk of failure is high and, as a result, operational efficiency and productivity will likely suffer.

In order to mitigate this risk and build a cohesive, engaged workforce, employees must understand what is happening and why, meaning that any effort to improve operational efficiency through digital channels must be strategic and purposeful. Furthermore, executives must determine the methods and tactics of change that will work for their organization’s specific needs, goals and culture.

At the end of the day, leaders struggling to strike a balance don’t have to choose: they can have both digital innovation and operational excellence. With careful planning, effective communication and a clear, purpose-driven strategy, the two priorities can complement each other to ensure the business remains productive and efficient today while preparing for the new, always-changing realities of tomorrow.